Helping the UK Get Back to Work

The start of spring brings renewed hope for the UK. To date, 30 million people have received their first coronavirus vaccine dose — that’s 57% of adults. Meanwhile, unemployment has improved slightly to 5% (1.7 million people) according to the latest ONS figures and the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions is set to usher in a revival of some of the industries that have suffered the most due to Covid-19, including recreation, hospitality and retail.

With leaders, investors and academics alike predicting a second “roaring ’20s” post the pandemic, making up for lost ground is firmly on the business, economic and societal agenda. Recruiters will play an integral role in reigniting the economy, getting people back into jobs and re-instilling career confidence in those already in roles that may be feeling cautious to seek career progression and new opportunities. The latter may prove to be especially difficult in the short-term. The number of people ‘sheltering’ in jobs, waiting to see how things pan out before putting job security and a regular paycheck at risk, is likely to be high given the events over the past year.

Latest labor market movements. Employers are already showing signs of cautious optimism. Data from LinkedIn finds that the UK hiring rate increased by 2.4% between January and February, with industries that have been instrumental to the pandemic response experiencing growth, including Healthcare (+34.1%), Public Administration (+32.1%) and Transportation and Logistics (12.6%).

Likewise, two of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic are showing potential green shoots, with the Entertainment (+34.9%) and Recreation and Travel (+34%) sectors showing the biggest spikes in month-on-month hiring growth in February. While the steady improvements won’t be enough to offset unemployment, it’s certainly positive news.

Another trend we’re seeing is around career switching. Additional data from LinkedIn finds that over a third (36%) of new jobs started in the UK last year were by people moving into different industries or functions where they may not have previous experience. On the platform, we’ve seen stories of people who have sadly been made unemployed find new opportunities doing things that they may not have previously considered, like moving into a completely different field or starting their own business.

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Skills-based hiring essential. With many companies having to fundamentally change the way they operate over the past year, the reality is that some jobs just won’t be coming back. This will require job seekers to explore new opportunities, consider the skills they have and their eligibility for other roles, and for businesses to rethink how they find talent to fill skills gaps and ensure the future success of their organization.

Assessing candidates on their skills and future potential as much as their formal qualifications and previous experience is going to be imperative to helping people get back into jobs quickly. Doing so will enable organizations to expand their talent pools, improve the diversity of their workforce and contribute to ensuring a fair recovery.

To help, Microsoft and LinkedIn are committing to help 250,000 businesses hire candidates based on their skills in 2021, and we’re also piloting Skills Path — a new way to use LinkedIn Recruiter to hire for skills and broaden talent pools — with 10 organizations including Gap Inc., TaskRabbit and BlackRock. By bringing together LinkedIn Learning courses with Skill Assessments, recruiters can evaluate candidates based on their proven skills, which we believe is a more equitable way of hiring.

We’re also extending free access to our online learning courses available to everyone at opportunity.linkedin.com, which have already helped 30 million people around the world — including 1.6 million people in the UK — develop digital skills in the past 10 months. New features such as Cover Story can also help candidates share more about their career goals and showcase their soft skills to recruiters and hiring managers through their LinkedIn profile.

Connecting job seekers to recruiters and potential employers is more vital than ever if we’re to quickly turn the tide post-Covid and get back to growth. With new opportunities being created as a result of the pandemic, hiring steadily coming back and the economy reopening, there is much to be optimistic about.

Adam Hawkins

Adam Hawkins
Adam Hawkins is head of search & staffing at LinkedIn.

Adam Hawkins

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