Job Market

Vacancy levels plummet in 2020

Competition for jobs remained high, however, with a 55% increase in the average number of applications per vacancy (APV) in 2020 against 2019

Job vacancies across the UK witnessed a sharp decline in 2020, with jobs falling 43% year-on-year amid the ongoing pandemic, according to new research form job board network Broadbean Technology

Competition for jobs remained high, however, with a 55% increase in the average number of applications per vacancy (APV) in 2020 against 2019.  

According to the research, there were sector specific variations in APV numbers as the pandemic “hit some areas harder than others”. Administration, secretarial and call centre jobs saw a “particular spike” in applicant numbers year-on-year, for example.

Broadbean noted that while its APV data was consistent with the rising unemployment levels seen last year, it appears that the furlough scheme has provided a “level of security”, with 15% less applications made in total in 2020 against 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.

Research also found that while Covid-19 had an impact on every sector, the travel and tourism arena was a “real casualty” last year, with vacancies dropping 98% in the second quarter of 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019.  

In contrast, the IT sector fared “considerably better”, largely driven by the rise in remote working. Demand for IT professionals peaked and troughed, as jobs fell by 66% in Q2 when compared with Q1 2020, though this steadily increased throughout the pandemic.  As a result, vacancy numbers were down by 38% year-on-year for the final quarter of 2020.

Alex Fourlis, managing director at Broadbean Technology said: “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.”  

He added: “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.”

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