There has been a steady growth in the UK’s recruitment sector in the last five years, with growth being seen each year. The 2019 market, for instance, was valued at £38.9bn, which was quite impressive given the uncertainty that came with Brexit. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world economy, and while there are great initiatives that have been established, like the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, estimated at £42bn, recent numbers have indicated the sharpest decline in the recruitment sector since the 2009 global economic crisis.
The positive impact of the continuous growth in the recruitment sector has seen the UK reach the lowest unemployment rates since the 1970s. However, this impact has been watered down as there was a record-breaking unemployment claim in March, with a 910% rise in claims for universal credit. It’s no surprise that there was a projected rise in the unemployment rates, from 3.8% in the first quarter of 2020 to 10% in the second quarter, rates that date back to 1993.
Effect on Businesses
It goes without saying that the Leisure and Hospitality industry has been the worst hit, with the lockdown bringing businesses to a halt and reducing service provision. Studies indicate that 46% of the workers in the leisure and hospitality industry will be furloughed, with close to 11 million people across all industries expected to be laid off over the coming few months. While the leisure industry tops for the jobs that are in the balance, transportation, mining, and consumer-focused industries like retail and possibly the recruitment sector, also rank high on the list.
While these figures are worrying, the public feeling is that this will be a short term economic issue rather and not a full-blown depression. Projections indicate a 35% fall in the GDP for the second quarter of 2020, followed by a quick recovery in the third and fourth quarter, before stabilizing at the beginning of 2021. So, how will this impact the recruitment sector?
A few months back, we witnessed a moderate 3-6% year after year growth in the recruitment sector for 2019 to 2021 while trying to overcome the issues posed by our imminent exit from the EU. We are truly in a different situation, but the businesses that adapt and make it through the crisis will be positioned to take a competitive advantage in a potentially changing employment sector.
Recruiters like Stopgap have a significant role to play after the COVID-19 pandemic. With the unemployment rates expected to drop to about 6.6% by the end of the year, recruiters will be vital in rallying the UK workforce again and also assisting clients adjust to the current nature of recruiting, including the adoption of new technologies like video interviewing, virtual onboarding and accept the reality of remote personnel.
Recruiters who work in industries that are experiencing a surge in demand such as healthcare, pharmaceutical, and life sciences have potentially changed their normal way of doing things or going about their work to try and back the fight against the virus. Moving forward, we’d like to see the expansion of these markets as the pandemic continues to bring out the disappointing investment. The focus should also shift to healthcare tech advancements and increased staffing for future demand. Recruitment businesses that have quickly warmed up to working from home have invested significantly in technology and laid down a strong and flexible operational base will have better chances of supporting and benefiting from future developments.
Simply put, be ready for massive change, as the nature of employment and recruitment has seen significant changes that will last a long time. Once the pandemic is over, the world will be very different from what it was.