Over the past five years, the UK recruitment industry has been on an ascending trend. The 2019 market has reached the value of almost £39bn, despite the expected impact of Brexit. The COVID-19 pandemic has reversed this trend, triggering the steepest decline in the recruitment sector since the 2009 global economic crisis. Neither the Corona virus Job Retention Scheme nor other otherwise laudable government initiatives were able to stop this decline.
The Evolution of Employment Rates
The admirable growth of the recruitment sector has led to the UK scoring the lowest levels of unemployment in a very long while. Unfortunately, March came with a whooping number of unemployment claims and with a huge increase in claims for universal credit. As a result, the projected increase in unemployment for Q2 reached 10%, the highest level since 1993.
Impact on Businesses
Obviously, the Leisure and Hospitality industry has taken the hardest hit, with lock down measures preventing these businesses from operating and even closing many of them. According to research, 46% of employees in leisure and hospitality will lose their jobs over the next few months. Unfortunately, this situation will also affect jobs in many other industries such as transportation, retail, mining, and even recruitment.
While there’s good reason to worry, the public perception is that this will be nothing but a short-term economic slowdown rather than a severe depression. Projections show a 35% decline in GDP for 2020, followed by a recovery and a stabilisation by the beginning of 2021. How does this influence the recruitment industry?
A few months ago, we saw many 2019-2021 projections showing a 3-6% year-on-year growth of the recruitment industry, mainly due to the challenges associated with the imminent Brexit. Even though this health crisis is something different, businesses that manage to adapt and survive will gain a significant competitive edge in the post-pandemic world of employment. Being able to spot the trends and to embrace change to accommodate these trends can make a huge difference to the evolution of a business.
Impact on Recruiters
Recruiters will play an extremely important part in the new world. As unemployment rates will probably drop to 6.6% by the end of 2020, the recruitment industry will be responsible for mobilising the UK workforce, as well as for offering employers support and advice to help them navigate the shift toward remote work, virtual interviews, and the adoption of new technologies. As the management of remote workforce comes with specific challenges, companies need all the support they can get from recruiters and HR businesses, in order to develop effective work procedures for the future.
Recruiters handling clients in industries that are seeing increased demand for workforce such as healthcare and pharma are likely to implement changes to their procedures, in order to accommodate and support the fight against corona virus. Our prediction for the future is that these markets will further expand and that the focus will shift to the adoption of advanced healthcare technology. Recruiters who have seized this opportunity and have shifted to working from home are already one step ahead their competitors. They have already built a solid yet adaptable foundation such as Stopgap that can support their future growth, regardless of the health and safety challenges that wreak havoc on the business world.
As you can see, recruitment and employment have changed forever. Nothing is going to be the same again. The sooner you acknowledge this, the easier it will be for you to reinvent your business to accommodate the new social distancing and workplace safety norms. Those who won’t be able to adapt will sooner or later disappear, as they won’t find their place in the new, post-COVID-19 reality.