Recruitment resilient in face of lockdown

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The latest ‘NIJobs.com Job Report with Ulster Bank’ indicates that some sectors are displaying resilience as lockdown restrictions tighten across Northern Ireland.

Recruitment has turned a slight corner with the employment market experiencing a 68 % increase in advertised vacancies from July to September (Q3) with 30 out of 32 employment categories posting a rise.

Despite an incredibly challenging economic backdrop some sectors have experienced quarterly and yearly growth including construction (up 160% q/q, 3% y/y), nursing, medicine and healthcare (up 5% q/q up 104% y/y) and education and childcare (up 133% q/q, up 25% y/y).

A significant rise in application numbers on the e-recruitment platform also demonstrate the demand for work. Graduate and apprentice applications more than tripled at 243% with many young people keen to start their careers. Overall job applications hit a record high in September, up 26% compared to the same month last year.

Recruitment resilient in face of lockdown

Sam McIlveen, General Manager at NIJobs.com says: “The last quarter reflects the resilience of the NI job market, which is encouraging. In Q3 many sectors began to recruit again after slowing down or pausing their hiring during the Q2 lockdown.

“Hospitality is a prime example as they were one of the most severely affected sectors in the first lockdown followed by a near seven fold increase (542%) as the sector reopened in Q3. The introduction of tighter restrictions last week will be a key focus and businesses are facing into a period of uncertainty as the long-term impact of both Covid and Brexit are yet to be fully realised.

“We also know that the younger generation will be the most affected by this pandemic. It is important, with the huge talent pool available here in NI, that employers keep the talent pipeline flowing in order to future proof their business. In our experience those employers who invest in talent, even during economic uncertainty are more likely to be better positioned for development and growth when they come out the other side.”

The ‘NIJobs.com Job Report ‘with Ulster Bank, now in its third year continues to provide valuable insight into the recruitment trends, economic environment  and the types of roles jobseekers are searching for online.

Recruitment resilient in face of lockdown

Richard Ramsey, Ulster Bank’s Chief Economist provides further context for the last quarter: “The trends of rising unemployment and falling employment are set to continue into 2021.

“One area of the local labour market that has witnessed a recovery in Q3 is the recruitment market. The latest NIJobs.com Jobs Report with Ulster Bank saw job listings more than halve in Q2 relative to the first three months of the year. That represented a year-on-year decline of 63%. However, record rates of decline have been followed-up with record rates of expansion in Q3.

“The number of advertised vacancies increased by 68% q/q in Q3 although they are still down one-third on the same period a year ago. For many areas, such as the hospitality sector’s near seven-fold increase in job postings, reflects a rebound from abnormally low levels of listings during lockdown in Q2. Many of the sectors that experienced the largest increases in Q3 were the ones most affected by the lockdown / social distancing restrictions. Alongside hospitality this included Publishing, Media & the Creative Arts (+600% q/q) and Beauty, Hair Care, Leisure & Sport (+450% q/q). Despite these large percentage increases, demand for some of these sectors remains well below pre-pandemic levels.

“What was more significant were the more meaningful increases in some of the largest recruitment categories. Notably these included: Production, Manufacturing & Materials (+61%), Accountancy & Finance (+115%); and Construction, Architecture & Property (+160%).  These three categories were the second, fourth and sixth largest recruitment categories respectively in Q3.

Meanwhile four categories posted record highs in Q3.  These include occupations largely unaffected by Covid-19 (e.g. Big Data & Analytics) or those that have experienced increased demand because of the health emergency i.e. Nursing, Healthcare & Medical and  Environmental , Health & Safety.  Once again Nursing, Healthcare & Medical topped the rankings for the third quarter running and accounted for 1 in 8 of all listings with Production, Manufacturing & Materials ranked second for the second successive quarter. It is interesting to note that the IT sector, which dominated the recruitment rankings prior to 2020 has fallen to eighth. IT’s share of listings has dropped from 1 in 8 to almost 1 in 20 in just over a year. Indeed, in Q3 IT vacancies were down two-thirds relative to last year.

“A corner has been turned on the recruitment front, but the wider labour market is set to be challenging for some time yet not least for sectors experiencing a fresh round of restrictions.

Before Covid-19, with widespread skills shortages, it was very much a sellers’ (of labour) market.  As we go into 2021, we find ourselves in a buyers’ market with the balance of power switching from workers to employers.  Even in a shrinking market – whether it be housing or recruitment – there will always been people wanting to move or change jobs or get on the first rung of the  property / jobs ladder. “

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