Vacancy levels across the UK saw a sharp decline in 2020 with jobs falling 43% year-on-year as the country battled through the coronavirus pandemic.
That’s according to new research – ‘A nation in flux: a look at recruitment numbers in a Covid hit economy’ – produced by international jobs board, Broadbean Technology.
Applicant numbers up but furlough throws lifeline to employers and employees alike
Broadbean’s research also reveals that competition for jobs was high, with a 55% increase in the average number of applications per vacancy (APV) in 2020 when compared to 2019.
There were sector specific variations in APV numbers as the pandemic hit some areas harder than others. According to the research, administration & secretarial and call centre jobs saw a particular spike in in applicant numbers year-on-year.
While Broadbean’s APV data is consistent with the rising unemployment levels seen last year as a direct result of the pandemic, it would appear that the furlough scheme has, to some extent, provided a level of security, with 15% less applications made in total in 2020 when compared to 2019. This suggests that while the APV for some roles was high, many employees and organisations were relying on the job retention scheme throughout the height of the pandemic.
Winners and losers: travel and tourism hit hardest while IT holds strong
Elsewhere, Broadbean’s research highlighted that, while Covid-19 had an impact on every sector, some areas were hit harder than others.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the travel & tourism arena was a real casualty with vacancies dropping 98% in quarter two 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019. In contrast, and largely attributable to the huge move to remote working, the IT arena fared considerably better.
While demand for IT professionals peaked and troughed – jobs fell by 66% in Q2 when compared with Q1 2020 – this steadily increased throughout the pandemic. As a result, vacancy numbers were down by just over a third (38%) year-on-year for the final quarter of 2020.
Alex Fourlis, Managing Director at Broadbean Technology commented: “There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the employment market across the UK which is reflected in our research. However, there are some encouraging signs that positive steps were starting to be made at the end of 2020. And while the Prime Minister has outlined his roadmap to exit restrictions, we certainly still have a long way to go before ‘normality’ returns – in whatever form that takes.
“However, what we can see from our analysis is that the recruitment sector is, in many instances, in a better place than it was at the beginning of the pandemic. But while we are cautiously optimistic that the worst is behind us, there are additional challenges that will no doubt impact hiring throughout 2021 – namely Brexit and the fast-approaching private sector roll out of IR35.”