2020 In Review – A Year Like No Other!

At the beginning of 2020, none of us could have predicted what was going to happen to the UK – and, indeed the world – just a few weeks later. As news filtered out from China that a virus was on the move, we continued with our daily lives and hopes for the year ahead.

We might have assumed or hoped that the virus news wasn’t too serious. If our thoughts were leaning that way, we were not prepared for what was to come.

Whilst people’s daily lives were flipped on their heads, so was recruitment. Many sectors have suffered dreadfully since the beginning of the pandemic and lockdowns. Yet, on the flip side, because people’s habits have been forced to change and because of the situation in general, some industries have seen benefits.

As an employer, you will only be too aware of this. For some industries, they lend themselves well to allowing staff to work from home so some of you will have managed, with perhaps the odd bit of creative thinking, too, to keep operating and keep your staff in employment.

For other industries – especially the hospitality sector – we know the effects of the virus have been devastating and we are all hoping for some recovery as 2021 progresses.

For other sectors – those which have required a dedicated team of frontline staff – where recruitment and staff wellbeing is concerned, it’s busy and stressful times.

For young jobseekers, whether they be school leavers, students or graduates, they have also been adversely affected by the effects of the virus on the jobs market.

The Hospitality & Tourism Sector

Of course, many industries have suffered during the pandemic and one of the larger areas is hospitality and tourism.

The hospitality sector is vast and covers so many different roles. Employing over 3 million people and directly contributing almost £75 billion to the UK economy in 2019, this is certainly one sector that has suffered from the effects of the pandemic.

So much so that well known people in the industry felt compelled to set up a petition in an attempt to have a parliamentary role created for Minister for Hospitality. Those employed within the industry feel they need to be fairly represented, especially during these challenging times. After over 150,000 people signed the petition, it will now be debated in parliament on January 11th, 2021.

If you are an employer in the hospitality sector, you will be well aware of the financial struggle, the furloughs and the job losses.

For young people looking for entry level, casual work to support studies and to gain work experience, the hospitality industry is the area they are often drawn towards.

For those looking to forge full time careers in hospitality, Apprenticeships and graduate programmes have been difficult, if not impossible to come by as events up and down the nation were cancelled and cafes, bars, restaurants and hotels were forced to close their doors.

Flight cancellations and the closure of leisure and fitness facilities means, if you are an employer in this industry, if you were in a position to advertise job vacancies, Apprenticeships or internships, you were no doubt inundated with applications. Thousands of people competing for just a few roles. Stressful for both recruiters and applicants.

Observers within the lodging industry state that March 2020-2021 will be the worst 13 months ever recorded and it will be 2022 before the industry is 90% recovered.

We all look forward to that future recovery for employers, for job seekers and for clients, customers and guests.

Difficult To Fill Roles

We have written in the past about the UK skills shortage and offered tips on how to fill those difficult to fill roles.

Throughout the pandemic, the jobs market has changed. Whilst the hospitality sector struggles, other sectors have needed to recruit many more people to keep up with new demands as a result of the pandemic.

Health and social care, for example, fall into the category of ‘difficult to fill’ roles due to skills shortages. As you might expect, these are also two areas that have been looking to recruit more staff during the pandemic.

IT, engineering and other trades and professions are also areas where employers find roles difficult to fill. This has continued during the pandemic.

Other Employment Opportunities

Because people’s behaviour has been forced to change during the pandemic, it follows that some sectors have been forced to recruit more staff, quickly. Some of this has been recruitment of staff to entry level roles, giving young people the opportunity to gain some work experience.

Supermarket Retail Jobs

In food retail, supermarkets have needed to recruit more staff to cope with demand. Well known supermarket chains recruited by area as their stores were inundated with customers. Yes, we had the issues with panic buying, causing long queues outside supermarkets but, beyond this, the fact that more people are staying at home to eat rather than eating out means there is more demand for groceries.

Warehousing & Distribution

Another sector where recruitment drives took place was warehousing and distribution. As shoppers are either wary of venturing out to stores or were forced to stay home for health reasons, the online shopping industry boomed. This has meant a need for more warehouse and delivery staff across the nation.

Whilst many of these roles have been temporary to cover seasonal rushes like the Christmas period, there have also been permanent positions created. People who previously worked in other sectors and found themselves out of work have now taken up roles in both supermarkets and in the warehousing and distribution sector.

For employers, the challenge has been to manage the increased recruitment whilst also making sure staff are working in Covid-safe conditions.

As we emerge from the pandemic in the future, will customer needs and behaviour have changed to such an extent that roles within the industry will need to change to meet those needs?

Driving Jobs

Delivery drivers have also been in demand during 2020 and this looks set to continue into 2021. Delivering goods to customers, some delivery drivers have found employment contracts with companies whilst others operate on a freelance basis.

Deliveries are also made on motorbikes and bicycles and these types of roles are popular with young people. As well as goods, delivery drivers have also found work with takeaway food companies. Again, when people can’t eat out, they order more takeaways.

Local Companies

And finally, there are many people out there who have long advocated the need to support local companies. During the pandemic, this awareness has increased and some local employers in SMEs are enjoying a boost in customer support.

Depending on the sector they operate in, smaller businesses have been faced with different challenges as a result of the pandemic. Creative and innovative ideas for adaptation to the current climate have kept them in business and many have built their customer base and customer loyalty as a result.

Post-pandemic, will we see more small start-ups employing local talent and creating internships, Apprenticeships and graduate roles so that young people are not forced to move away to work in the roles they want to.

Into 2021

There is no magic wand that is waved at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve that heralds change for the year ahead.

According to this BBC article, the second quarter of 2020 saw the number of job vacancies fall by almost 63%.

Since that time, many companies have been able to adapt to the changes in staff and customer needs by changing the way they operate. More staff are working from home where possible and lots of jobseekers are tapping into their transferable skills to apply them to roles where employers are advertising vacancies.

If you are an employer looking to recruit young people to any of your vacancies, post your job and tap into some of the top young talent.