All posts by Charlie Ball

I am a specialist in labour market intelligence for graduates (and postgraduates), on higher education data and on dissemination of data-driven information. I am a Fellow of the National Institute of Career Education and Counselling (NICEC) and sit on HESA's Graduate Outcomes steering group and the Office of National Statistics steering group on occupational classifications. I'm also a Visiting Fellow at MMU.

I know you won’t believe it’s true – UK graduate labour market news to 16th October

You can’t dance like this and nor can I, but let’s have some Pulp and we’ll see you back shortly when you stop hiding in the wardrobe.

What we’re hearing:

  • The economy is improving, but we’re a long way from where we were at the start of the year and a prolonged return to lockdown will be a blow to small businesses and sectors like culture, retail and hospitality that have already had a hard time
  • The level of vacancies is running at just over 50% of normal rates and seems to be climbing – slowly
  • The graduate labour market has suffered significant damage, particularly in the arts – which may be the worst-affected sector in the UK. Many key graduate employment sectors – in health, social care, IT, finance– have been much less affected than many other areas of the economy. Retail, hospitality, travel and accommodation employers have all taken long term hits.
  • It looks like there’ll be a two-track recovery (US economists are calling it ‘K-shaped’, with some sectors, particularly those where remote working is effective, recovering rapidly and others slowly. As most of the rapidly-recovering sectors are highly graduate this may exacerbate the already serious social and economic divides in the country.
  • Things are also looking difficult for the self-employed, partly because a lot work in sectors, such as the arts, that have been badly affected and partly due to sheer lack of cash reserves although the sector has been more resilient than originally feared
  • Undergraduate students have shown up for the start of term in large numbers but COVID outbreaks and lockdown restrictions are affecting morale and mental health and dropout are concerns. But we must also be mindful that young people not in employments have very few alternative options at the moment.
  • Postgraduate interest is strongly up
  • Salaries are likely to remain stagnant or even fall
  • Decisions made about recruitment and business strength this year will also affect next year’s recruitment round (at least)
  • The collapse in employment in retail and services is likely to affect term-time jobs for students in the future and thus the ability for students from less advantaged backgrounds to support themselves at university
  • The pandemic is going to profoundly change the nature of work for many employees and professional services and IT workers in particular have proved as productive at home as in the office, so a widespread move to homeworking is likely for many graduates. The large majority of workers in tech and professional services are currently working from home, and if this pattern persists it will significantly change many aspects of society, particularly in our cities.
  • London seems to be taking a particular hit, with footfall and vacancies well below normal levels. It remains a very strong graduate economy though.
  • Many employers are at least discussing recruiting in Q3 and Q4 if conditions permit after missing the normal recruitment round earlier in the year. Others have decided to wait until 2021 though.

The ONS have issued their overview of the September labour market

  • In September 2020, 20,000 more people were in payrolled employment when compared with August 2020 and 673,000 fewer people were in payrolled employment when compared with March 2020
  • Estimates for June to August 2020 show an estimated 1.52 million people were unemployed, 209,000 more than a year earlier and 138,000 more than the previous quarter
  • The estimated UK unemployment rate for all people was 4.5% (4.9% for men, 4.0% for women); this is 0.6 percentage points higher than a year earlier and 0.4 percentage points higher than the previous quarter
  • Total working hours have improved but remain low
  • Redundancies increased by a record 114,000 on the quarter. Needless to say, this is a huge figure for a quarter.

  • The number of employees has fallen in recent months

  • UK Claimant Count level has increased by 120.3% since March 2020

There’s excellent commentary on it from the IES and the Learning and Work Institute.

And the House of Commons Library have updated their briefing on the effects of pandemic on the labour market.

The Employer Skills Survey report for 2019 came out this week. This is a marvellous piece of work that comes out from the DFE every 2 years and involves surveying a 5% sample of UK employers to find out about recruitment and the challenges faced by business. Over 81,000 employers were surveyed.

It’s particularly useful for (amongst other things) examining occupational shortages, and we’ll be taking a more in-depth look at the survey and the data in it at a later date.

  • Vacancies in 2019 were down on 2017
  • But hard to fill (HTF) and skills shortage vacancies (SSVs) were *up* on 2017
  • 24% of vacancies were SSVs, construction, manufacturing particularly affected
  • Employers had reduced training since 2017  – 60% of staff had received training in 2019
  • Hard to fill vacancies were more prevalent for high skill jobs
  • Vacancies that were particularly hard to fill included
    • Professionals in IT, business services, education and public administration
    • Associate professionals in financial services, public administration
    • Carers
  • Main reasons for HTF vacancies at grad level)
    • Low number of applicants with required skills
    • Not enough people interested in doing job
    • Just not enough applicants
    • For some associate professional roles, lack of work experience

We know that many shortages persist despite COVID-19 and we’ll be looking at that in particular in the weeks and months ahead.

The ILO have a global view of the impact of COVID-19 on labour markets around the world.

  • 94 per cent of the world’s workers currently live in countries with some sort of workplace closure measure in place
  • 12.1% of working hours were lost in Q3 2020, equivalent to 345 million full-time jobs
  • 8.6% of working hours are projected to be lost in the fourth quarter of 2020, equivalent to 245 million full-time jobs
  • The hardest hit groups are migrants, informal workers, young workers and women.

Skills Development Scotland have a rather good series of reports on the Scottish experience – here is September’s

And here’s the GLA’s September report for London.

People Management continue their liveblog on employer actions in the pandemic. 

The ONS have issued their biweekly report on the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

  • 86% of businesses were currently trading up to 20th September
  • 9% of the workforce were on partial or full furlough leave
  • 28% of the workforce were working remotely instead of at their normal place of work
  • 59% of the workforce were working at their normal place of work
  • 74% of IT and comms and 62% of professional services employees were working remotely
  • 72% of manufacturing and health and social care employees were at their normal place of work
  • IT and comms businesses were the most likely to still have paused trading, with 25.5% of businesses (do bear in mind that there are a lot of SMEs in this group)
  • 13.5% of microbusinesses (up to 9 employees) are still paused
  • No health and social care businesses appear to still be paused.
  •  43% experienced a decrease in profits compared with what is normally expected for this time of year
  • 34% experienced no impact on profits
  •  7% experienced an increase in profits compared with what is normally expected for this time of year

Across all industries, of businesses not permanently stopped trading and that reported more staff working from home:

  • 12% experienced an increase in productivity
  • 52% experienced no impact on productivity
  • 24% experienced a decrease in productivity

Of businesses not permanently stopped trading across all industries:

  • 19% intend to use increased homeworking as a permanent business model in the future
  • 67% do not intend to use increased homeworking as a permanent business model in the future

Education, IT, professional, scientific and tech and water supply, sewerage and waste management are the most likely industries to say they will have increased homeworking.

Of businesses intending to use increased homeworking as a permanent business model in the future, 60% reported it was because of improved staff well-being, 55% reported it was because of reduced overheads, and 34% reported it was because of increased productivity.

Across all industries, of businesses not permanently stopped trading:

  • 4% had no cash reserves
  • 24% had less than three months’ cash reserves
  • 51% had more than three months cash reserves

The accommodation and food service activities industry had the highest percentage of businesses that had no cash reserves, at 6%.

Conversely, the information and communication industry and the education industry (private and higher education businesses only) had the highest percentages of businesses that had cash reserves to last more than six months, at 43% and 42% respectively.

12% of businesses currently trading had low confidence that their business would survive the next three months. The water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities industry and the accommodation and food service activities industry had the highest percentages of businesses that had low confidence their business would survive the next three months, at 37% and 25%, respectively.

The ONS also have reporting on the social impacts of COVID-19 to the 15th October

  • 65% of adults travelled to work in the week ending 11th October
  • Between 2 and 9 October 2020, total online job adverts increased from 61% to 63% of their 2019 average
  • Healthcare and education each saw the largest increase by four percentage points, to 95% and 80% of their 2019 averages respectively
  • The two regions with the highest volume of online job adverts compared with the 2019 average were the East Midlands (at 83% of their 2019 average) followed by the North East (76% of their 2019 average). London remained the region with the lowest volume of job adverts at 51% of their 2019 average.

The Institute of Employment Studies have analysed September job vacancies on Adzuna, to 21st September.

  • There were 182,000 new vacancies notified in the week to 21st September, up from the average of 150,000 in August, but 25% lower than the equivalent week last year.
  • The overall level of vacancies at 13 September was 517,000.
  • The devolved nations and the North East of England have the lowest ratio of vacancies per capita, while London and the South East of England have the highest ratios.
  • However, London and the South East are also the regions that experienced the highest decline between March and September.
  • Jobs have increased in all categories since July, apart from teaching; customer services; and legal related professions
  • The level of vacancies now exceeds the levels reported in March in logistics and warehouse; manufacturing; and domestic help and cleaning

Whilst Indeed have their regular analysis of vacancies, this time to October 2nd.

Vacancies continue a slow but steady recovery and now stand at about 54% of the usual level – in line with other data sources. Roles with the greatest improvement since 4th June include construction, production and manufacturing, chemical engineering, medical technician and sports.

London is seeing the weakest recovery.

Indeed have also started hosting their data on Github, so if you want to dig into data from a number of countries (presently I see Australia, Canada, UK, Ireland, US and Germany) then get them here.

The IPPR are concerned that the new Job Support Scheme (JSS) and Job Retention Bonus (JRB) may save only 11% of viable jobs.

They estimate that only workers on monthly wages between £625 and £987 would benefit. This is because people with monthly wages below £625 do not qualify for the JRB. And the JRB received by the employer for employees paid more than £987 a month is too small to make it economical to hold on to workers on a part-time basis.

The Economics Observatory have updated their report on which parts of the UK have been most affected by COVID-19.

There’s a wealth of claimant count, footfall and other data to give a series of analyses looking at how different areas have been impacted.

I’m gonna set straight this Watergate: UK graduate labour market news to 9th October

Kate Bush last week, so let’s have a slight change of pace with three gentlemen from Brooklyn, NY and a bass riff. You’ll want to turn it up, because your neighbours will enjoy it, and watch the video. There is a little bit of what my grandmother would call ‘language’ so I suggest you don’t sing that bit too loudly if you’re anywhere where that might be a problem.

What we’re hearing:

  • The economy is improving, but we’re a long way from where we were at the start of the year and a prolonged return to lockdown will be a blow to small businesses and sectors like culture, retail and hospitality that have already had a hard time
  • The level of vacancies is running at just over 50% of normal rates and seems to be climbing – slowly
  • The graduate labour market has suffered significant damage, particularly in the arts – which may be the worst-affected sector in the UK. Many key graduate employment sectors – in health, social care, IT, finance– have been much less affected than many other areas of the economy. Retail, hospitality, travel and accommodation employers have all taken long term hits.
  • It looks like there’ll be a two-track recovery (US economists are calling it ‘K-shaped’, with some sectors, particularly those where remote working is effective, recovering rapidly and others slowly. As most of the rapidly-recovering sectors are highly graduate this may exacerbate the already serious social and economic divides in the country.
  • Things are also looking difficult for the self-employed, partly because a lot work in sectors, such as the arts, that have been badly affected and partly due to sheer lack of cash reserves although the sector has been more resilient than originally feared
  • Undergraduate students have shown up for the start of term in large numbers but COVID outbreaks and lockdown restrictions are affecting morale and mental health and dropout are concerns. But we must also be mindful that young people not in employments have very few alternative options at the moment.
  • Postgraduate interest is strongly up
  • Salaries are likely to remain stagnant or even fall
  • Decisions made about recruitment and business strength this year will also affect next year’s recruitment round (at least)
  • The collapse in employment in retail and services is likely to affect term-time jobs for students in the future and thus the ability for students from less advantaged backgrounds to support themselves at university
  • The pandemic is going to profoundly change the nature of work for many employees and professional services and IT workers in particular have proved as productive at home as in the office, so a widespread move to homeworking is likely for many graduates. The large majority of workers in tech and professional services are currently working from home, and if this pattern persists it will significantly change many aspects of society, particularly in our cities.
  • London seems to be taking a particular hit, with footfall and vacancies well below normal levels. It remains a very strong graduate economy though.
  • Many employers are at least discussing recruiting in Q3 and Q4 if conditions permit after missing the normal recruitment round earlier in the year. Others have decided to wait until 2021 though.

GDP grew by 2.1% in August 2020, but it remains 9.2% below the February 2020 level

People Management continue their liveblog on employer actions in the pandemic. 

The ONS have reporting on the social impacts of COVID-19 to the 8th October

Of businesses not permanently stopped trading across all industries:

  • 19% intend to use increased homeworking as a permanent business model in the future
  • 67% do not intend to use increased homeworking as a permanent business model in the future
  • Education, IT, professional, scientific and tech and water supply, sewerage and waste management are the most likely industries to say they will have increased homeworking.
  • Of businesses intending to use increased homeworking as a permanent business model in the future, 60% reported it was because of improved staff well-being, 55% reported it was because of reduced overheads, and 34% reported it was because of increased productivity.
  • Between 25 September and 2 October 2020, total online job adverts increased from 59% to 61% of their 2019 average.

PWC recruited a record number of graduates in Scotland this year despite COVID.

British Chambers of Commerce have published findings from their Quarterly Economic Survey for the third quarter of 2020.

The QES is an important piece of work – this survey canvassed 6,410 firms, employing over 580,000 people across the UK. It found that

  • In general conditions have improved over Q2, but remain extremely weak
  • 46% of firms reported a decrease in domestic sales. 27% reported an increase on the previous quarter
  • 66% of respondents in hospitality and catering saw decreases in sales and bookings
  • Indicators, including cash flow, remain at levels comparable to the 2008-09 recession for firms in the services sector
  • 41% of firms said they expected their turnover to increase over the next 12 months, 35% still expected it to decrease. 24% expected that it would stay the same.

The CBI and LSE have published a report on the way firms have innovated as a response to COVID.

“The Business Response to Covid-19: the CEP-CBI Survey on Technology Adoption” surveyed 375 UK businesses to understand the way in which firms have innovated in response to the crisis.

  • 75% of respondents had moved to remote working and, on average, they experienced a 25% loss of revenue compared to “business as usual”.
  • In the period from late March to late July 2020, over 60% of firms adopted new digital technologies and management practices; and around a third invested in new digital capabilities.
  • Nearly half of respondents have introduced new products or services.
  • The vast majority of respondents stated that Covid-19 prompted or accelerated the adoption of new practises and products.
  • These process and product innovations are generally considered to have had a positive impact on performance, and businesses expect to maintain them post-crisis.
  • When asked about the impacts of these changes on their workforce, most firms consider that their adoption of new technologies, capabilities or practices will increase employee productivity, or allow employees to be reallocated to different tasks, rather than reduce the need for employees over time. Only 10-15% anticipate that these changes will reduce headcount.
  • Firms that had previously adopted digital technologies were significantly more likely to adopt new technologies, capabilities and practices, and introduce new products, even after controlling for other key business characteristics.
  • London-based businesses were more likely to have adopted digital technologies, but there is no clear regional pattern to innovation in other measures

Indeed have updated one of their previous reports by looking at where it was hardest to find work in August.

  • Competition for jobs is higher in places with weaker economies, with eight times more local candidates per job posting in Middlesbrough than in Cambridge.
  • Jobseekers tend to be less specific in their job searches in cities where jobs are scarcer, suggesting they cast a wider net in weaker labour markets.
  • Competition for jobs has risen most in cities where jobs were already in short supply.

The cities Indeed report as having the most competition for jobs are Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Luton, Birkenhead and Dundee. Cambridge, Oxford, Exeter, Reading and Bristol had the least competition.

The Institute of Employment Studies have analysed September job vacancies on Adzuna, to 21st September.

  • There were 182,000 new vacancies notified in the week to 21st September, up from the average of 150,000 in August, but 25% lower than the equivalent week last year.
  • The overall level of vacancies at 13 September was 517,000.
  • The devolved nations and the North East of England have the lowest ratio of vacancies per capita, while London and the South East of England have the highest ratios.
  • However, London and the South East are also the regions that experienced the highest decline between March and September.
  • Jobs have increased in all categories since July, apart from teaching; customer services; and legal related professions
  • The level of vacancies now exceeds the levels reported in March in logistics and warehouse; manufacturing; and domestic help and cleaning

The Institute of Fiscal Studies have a ‘real time jobs vacancies tracker’, which isn’t really real time (it currently goes up to mid August) but which does examine DWP  vacancies in a variety of interesting ways and is worth a look as it provides some useful data that isn’t available elsewhere.

The IFS have also been releasing chapters from their Green Budget, their annual discussion paper around the decisions and choices facing the Chancellor about taxes, spending and public policy. The chapter about the ‘levelling-up’ agenda and regional inequality has just been published. There is a lot of interesting data in here but the labour market angle is that ‘left-behind’ areas tend to have a low proportion of the population with HE qualifications, and this is put into stark contrast when Wandsworth, where 71.6% of the population have an HE or equivalent qualification, is compared with Great Yarmouth, where 15% of the population are similarly qualified. There is also some very interesting discussion of the impact of COVID, with the iFS pointing out that some of the centres of our largest cities, such as Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle have been badly affected.

Tristram Hooley of the ISE examines the Winter Economy Plan.

LinkedIn report that a third of UK professionals are actively looking for a new job.

  • 26% of people are casually looking for a new job or project work and 30% – while not actively looking – are open to the right offer.
  • 10% said they expected the number of new jobs available to increase in the following two weeks, while 25% expected it to fall.
  • Only three industries are showing greater levels of confidence in this edition than they did in August – retail, corporate services and construction.
  • All other industries experienced a decline in confidence – the biggest decreases were among those working in the nonprofit, consumer goods and finance industries.
  • Retail, software & IT services, finance and construction workers anticipate strong, steady improvements in their companies over the next six and 12 months. The least optimistic about the future of their companies are those in the education, nonprofit, healthcare and manufacturing sectors

And PWC have produced their September UK Economic Update.

The report examines potential scenarios for the next few months in the UK. The two main scenarios are ‘contained spread’, where R stays slightly above one in the autumn, resulting in a gradual but marked rise in the number of new reported cases as winter approaches. Local lockdowns largely contain viral spread.

Under the ‘further outbreak’ scenario – PWC expect to see a more significant rise in infections leading to a number of simultaneous outbreaks in various parts of the country, possibly at levels close to the May peak, which precipitates the return of a national-level lockdown.

Under ‘contained spread’, UK GDP is expected to fall about 11% in 2020 and then rise by 10% in 2021, whilst ‘further outbreak’ sees a fall of 12% in 2020 and a rise of 4% in 2021.

The UK economy would recover to around pre-lockdown levels by the end of 2021 under the ‘contained spread’ scenario, and in the middle of 2023 under the ‘further outbreak’ scenario.

Most sectors will return to growth in 2021, including hard-hit sectors such as retail and hospitality as they recover from a low base in 2020.

Running up that hill – UK graduate labour market news to 1st October

Sorry, I keep forgetting to do these. Maybe Kate Bush will help me remember. Here she is showing us how to put on a show on, of all things, Wogan. You’ll want to watch this and perhaps gesture extravagantly whilst singing along, so we’ll wait for you.

Ready? Here goes.

What we’re hearing:

  • The economy is improving, but we’re a long way from where we were at the start of the year and a return to lockdown could be a blow to small businesses
  • The level of vacancies is running at about 50% of normal rates.
  • The graduate labour market has suffered significant damage, particularly in the arts – which may be the worst-affected sector in the UK. Many key graduate employment sectors – in health, social care, IT, finance– have been much less affected than many other areas of the economy. Retail, hospitality, travel and accommodation employers have all taken long term hits.
  • It looks like there’ll be a two-track recovery (US economists are calling it ‘K-shaped’, with some sectors, particularly those where remote working is effective, recovering rapidly and others slowly. As most of the rapidly-recovering sectors are highly graduate this may exacerbate the already serious social and economic divides in the country.
  • Things are also looking difficult for the self-employed, partly because a lot work in sectors, such as the arts, that have been badly affected and partly due to sheer lack of cash reserves although the sector has been more resilient than originally feared
  • Undergraduate students have shown up for the start of term in large numbers but COVID outbreaks and lockdown restrictions are affecting morale and mental health and dropout are concerns. But we must also be mindful that young people not in employments have very few alternative options at the moment.
  • Postgraduate interest is strongly up
  • The situation for international student recruitment is tricky, but it’s starting to look as if many, if not most, are showing for the start of term
  • Salaries are likely to remain stagnant or even fall
  • Decisions made about recruitment and business strength this year will also affect next year’s recruitment round (at least)
  • The collapse in employment in retail and services is likely to affect term-time jobs for students in the future and thus the ability for students from less advantaged backgrounds to support themselves at university
  • The pandemic is going to profoundly change the nature of work for many employees and professional services and IT workers in particular have proved as productive at home as in the office, so a widespread move to homeworking is likely for many graduates. The large majority of workers in tech and professional services are currently working from home, and if this pattern persists it will significantly change many aspects of society, particularly in our cities.
  • London seems to be taking a particular hit, with footfall and vacancies well below normal levels. It remains a very strong graduate economy though.
  • Many employers are at least discussing recruiting in Q3 and Q4 if conditions permit after missing the normal recruitment round earlier in the year. Others have decided to wait until 2021 though.

The Government has announced its new Job Support Scheme, to replace the current furloughing arrangements.

From 1st November to the end of January 2021

  • The government will contribute a proportion of the wages of staff who work a minimum of 33% of their hours. The scheme is available to all SMEs, and to large companies who can demonstrate that the coronavirus crisis caused turnover to fall by more than a third.
  • VAT will remain at the lower rate of 5% for the hospitality and leisure sectors until 31 March 2021.
  • All of the government’s state-backed loan schemes will be extended until the end of 2020 and a new guarantee loan programme will come in in January.
  • Businesses that took out Bounce Back Loans can extend their repayments over 10 years instead of six. Businesses experiencing particular difficulties can pause repayments or move to interest-only payments without affecting their credit score.
  • Banks who lent under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will also have the option of extending the loan from six to 10 years.
  • Self-employed people can defer their income tax payment and those with tax debts over £30,000 can set up payments in installments.
  • The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will be extended, but will now pay a taxable grant up to 20% of average monthly profits rather than 80%.

People Management continue their liveblog on employer actions in the pandemic. 

The Home Office’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) have released an immense Review of the Shortage Occupation List, used in determining criteria for eligibility for immigration.. Note that despite the title, this isn’t actually a list of occupations in shortage in the UK, it’s a list of those occupations where there is a shortage and overseas workers are considered an appropriate way of alleviating that shortage.

Despite COVID, the MAC have not recommended removing any graduate level role from the list, and have added health service and public health managers, senior care workers, pharmacists, physiotherapists and modern language teachers. The MAC also recommend having specific lists for the devolved nations and therefore recommend adding niche healthcare professionals, specifically audiologists, to the Welsh list, nuclear scientists, nuclear engineers, Gaelic teachers and housing officers to the Scottish list and housing officers to the Northern Irish list.

The MAC also expressed strong concerns about consequences of low wages in social care, with most frontline occupations in the sector ineligible for the skilled worker route, despite very serious shortages.

The ONS have issued another biweekly update on the impact of COVID on the economy, this one to the 24th September

  • 84% of businesses were currently trading, compared with 66% of businesses to 14th June
  • There were four industries where more than half of their businesses experienced a decrease in turnover compared with what is normally expected for this time of year. These were the arts, entertainment and recreation industry (68%), the education industry (private sector and higher education businesses only) (62%), the accommodation and food service activities industry (59%), and the administrative and support service activities industry (51%).
  • 12% of the workforce were on partial or full furlough leave.
  • 11% of businesses currently trading stated that they had a moderate or severe risk of insolvency, 78% they had a low or no risk.
  • 4% had no cash reserves
  • 22% had less than three months’ cash reserves

The ONS have reporting on the social impacts of COVID-19 to the 1st October

  • The proportion of working adults who travelled to work at some point during the week fell to 59%, from 64% the previous week
  • The proportion exclusively working from home increased to 24%
  • Between 18 and 25 September, total online job adverts increased from 55% to 59% of their 2019 average, with all categories seeing climbs. Health vacancies stood at 96% of the 2019 average, and education at 70%.
  • The East Midlands continued to see the strongest recovery in the volume of job adverts, standing at 76% of their annual average. Wales stood at 73%. London continues to see the weakest recovery, with job adverts at 48% of their 2019 average

UUK and the Industrial Strategy Council have released a report to better understand the contribution of further and higher education to the UK’s Industrial Strategy.

The report considers knowledge exchange, research innovation and skills development, the latter section including data on graduate migration using HECSU’s Loyals, Stayers, Returners and Incomers typology as developed by this author (and first published in the Summer 2005 edition of Graduate Market Trends, which is no longer available online).

  • University-owned spin-outs (firms using university developed ideas) generated £1.4 billion across the UK in 2018/19.
  • There were 20,039 newly-registered graduate start-ups in the last 5 years

REC and EMSI continue to publish their Jobs Recovery Tracker, this time to 20th September.

  • There were 129,000 new job adverts posted in the UK in the week of 14-20 September, the highest since lockdown measures were introduced.
  • Total number of job postings in the UK continued to rise to 1.21 million.
  • Nurses, secondary school teachers, programmers, accountants and mechanical engineers all saw healthy rises.

REC also published their JobsOutlook to the end of August in conjunction with ComRes.

This is based on interviews with 500 employers and found that

  • Employers’ intentions to hire permanent staff in the next three months rose to a net level of +11 in June-August. This is very good news in the current market
  • The survey’s measures of business confidence – while still in negative territory – have also improved. Confidence in making hiring and investment decisions was at net: -3 in June to August.
  • However confidence in the UK economy was at net: -44, showing the majority of employers still believe the economy’s prospects as a whole are worsening (although this is nevertheless improving from the previous quarter).
  • 34% of employers reported having no surplus capacity in their workforce in June-August, up from 29% in the previous rolling quarter. In August alone, this rose to 39%.

The latest round of figures on hiring from Indeed are here, this time to the 18th September.

The level of job postings continues to rise, albeit slowly. The strongest improvement in trend over the past month was seen for chemical engineering, mainly driven by gas engineers and water treatment specialists. Medical information (which includes registrars, healthcare advisors and clinic managers) also saw a healthy rise.

In common with other data sources, London remained the weakest performing region. All other regions of the UK improved over recent weeks, but the trend in the capital has been flat. Job postings in London were down -54.6% on last year as of 18th September, barely above their low point of -56.9% in early June. With the government reversing its push to get more people back into offices,  London in particular looks likely to continue to suffer.

These figures are reinforced by the footfall data from the Centre for Cities that shows London firmly at the bottom of the table comparing current footfall with the average. Manchester is the only other city still showing less than half of normal footfall.

The Resolution Foundation has released its annual Low Pay Report. The graduate labour market doesn’t feature strongly, but the findings are, nevertheless, important.

  • Before the crisis, the rising National Living Wage was driving down low pay, 15.5 per cent of employees were classified as being on low pay.
  • The proportion of employees paid below the real Living Wage fell to 21 per cent in 2019
  • In June, employees earning below the real Living Wage were around twice as likely as higher-paid earners to have lost their job, been furloughed, or lost hours and pay as a result of the crisis.
  • Low-paid workers were less likely than higher-paid ones (44 per cent, compared to 83 per cent) to have been working from home at the peak of the lockdown in May.

SPECIAL BONUS SECTION: VERY GOOD COVERS BY PLACEBO AND FIRST AID KIT

We work well together – UK graduate labour market news to 11th September

Just take a moment to appreciate the glory of Paddy McAloon. I’ll see you in a few minutes as you probably want to listen to this a couple of times to work out if there is any way it could be improved (SPOILER NO IT IS PERFECT)

As always this is a version of the Luminate blog although for some reason a lot of people did a lot of things in the middle of this week so there’s a fair amount in here that will make Luminate next week.

What we’re hearing:

  • The economy improved significantly in July but we’re nowhere near back to where we were pre-pandemic.
  • The level of vacancies is running at about 50% of normal rates.
  • The graduate labour market has suffered significant damage, particularly in the arts – which may be the worst-affected sector in the UK. But things are far worse for non-graduates. Many key graduate employment sectors – in health, social care, IT, finance– have been much less affected than many other areas of the economy. Retail, hospitality, travel and accommodation employers have all taken long term hits.
  • It looks like there’ll be a two-track recovery (US economists are calling it ‘K-shaped’), with some sectors, particularly those where remote working is effective, recovering rapidly and others slowly. As most of the rapidly-recovering sectors are highly graduate this may exacerbate the already serious social and economic divides in the country.
  • Things are also looking difficult for the self-employed, partly because a lot work in sectors, such as the arts, that have been badly affected and partly due to sheer lack of cash reserves although the sector has been more resilient than originally feared
  • Domestic student numbers seem to have held up strongly as young people opt for more education rather than taking their chances in an exceptionally difficult jobs market – but applications are not the same thing as actual enrolments.
  • Postgraduate interest is strongly up and the coming term could see a great many enrolments. Teaching, for example, is up significantly
  • The situation for international student recruitment is tricky, but it’s starting to look as if many, if not most, are showing for the start of term
  • Salaries are likely to remain stagnant or even fall
  • Decisions made about recruitment and business strength this year will also affect next year’s recruitment round (at least)
  • The collapse in employment in retail and services is likely to affect term-time jobs for students in the future and thus the ability for students from less advantaged backgrounds to support themselves at university
  • The pandemic is going to profoundly change the nature of work for many employees and professional services and IT workers in particular have proved as productive at home as in the office, so a widespread move to homeworking is likely for many graduates. The large majority of workers in tech and professional services are currently working from home, and if this pattern persists it will significantly change many aspects of society, particularly in our cities.

UK GDP went up 6.6% in July.

  • Economy has still only made up about half of its pandemic losses
  • Education and manufacturing (particularly distilling and car making) saw a strong increase
  • Production and construction still well below pre-pandemic levels

People Management continue their liveblog on employer actions in the pandemic. 

The ONS have reporting on the social impacts of COVID-19 to the 10th September.

  • Between 28 August and 4 September, total online job adverts decreased from 55% to 50% of their 2019 average, decreasing in every region and country of the UK.
  • The fall was spread evenly amongst job categories
  • Healthcare and social care decreased by 10 percentage points, bringing it to 84% of its 2019 average (still, it must be noted, far better than other sectors)
  • Wholesale and retail decreased seven percentage points
  • Legal and customer service/support both increased one percentage point

We also have ONS data on Wave 12 of the Business Impact of Coronavirus Survey (BICS) for the period 10 August to 23 August 2020

  • 11% of the workforce were on partial or furlough leave
  • 36% of the workforce were working remotely instead of at their normal place of work
  • 49% of the workforce were working at their normal place of work
  • 6% of the workforce that were still on partial or furlough leave returned from leave in the last two weeks.
  • The accommodation and food service activities industry reported the highest percentage of businesses reporting their risk of insolvency was severe to moderate, at 23%, compared with 11% across all industries.
  • The arts, entertainment and recreation industry reported the largest percentage of businesses indicating that operating costs had exceeded turnover, at 40%. Needless to say this is a pretty grim statistic.
  • Also alarming. 29% of private or HE education organisations stated that operating costs exceed turnover.
  • 35% of businesses had more than six months’ cash reserves. 4% have none. The accommodation and food service activities industry, and the construction industry had the highest percentages of businesses indicating they had no cash reserves, at 8% and 6% respectively. 52% of businesses in education said they had more than 6 months cash reserves, and considering their reports on turnover above that’s a very good thing.

The figure below shows the proportion of businesses currently trading by industry

Only one industry had less than 90% of their businesses reporting that they were currently trading. This was the arts, entertainment and recreation industry, at 79%

Only one industry had less than 90% of their businesses reporting that they were currently trading. This was the arts, entertainment and recreation industry, at 79%.

And this graph shows employee working arrangements by industry.

The three industries with the highest proportion of remote working – education, IT and professional activities – each have an overwhelmingly graduate workforce.

Note that the three industries with the highest proportion of remote working – education, IT and professional activities – each have an overwhelmingly graduate workforce.

Not entirely COVID-related but still significant – British Chambers of Commerce have published the progress report for their Workplace Training and Development Commission, looking at the barriers and opportunities for business investment in workplace training and development, for adults over the age of 25, and at all skill levels. The Commission have reached their halfway point and have released their report, which reflects both on their findings and the way the pandemic has shaped thinking. Key points include

  • In the years leading up around 3 in 4 businesses were struggling to fill job vacancies. 
  • Low levels of productivity, increased automation and an ageing workforce will continue to present significant challenges for businesses.
  • The introduction of a new points-based immigration system from January 2021 will increase recruitment and employment costs for firms unable to fill job vacancies from the local labour market.
  • Firms were investing less in training and development in 2019 than they were in 2014
  • Apprenticeships are highly valued by many employers, and can help to resolve skills shortages, but they are not the solution to all workplace training and development needs
  • A more flexible and modular approach to learning would allow people whose role spans several functions (such as in SMEs) to gain access to chunks of accredited learning
  • Many SMEs lack the HR skills and business transformation resources to properly identify, articulate and plan for existing and future workforce development needs. All SMEs should have access to impartial advice and support to adopt new innovative processes, conduct a workplace training needs analysis and identify relevant, high quality provision.

REC and EMSI have updated their Jobs Recovery Tracker to the end of August.

  • Total number of active job postings rose to 1.12 million in the final week of the month.
  • 107,000 new job adverts posted in the week beginning 24 August
  • Graduate positions on the increase include legal associate professionals, market researchers, dental nurses and podiatrists

BDO’s monthly ‘Rethinking the Economy’ survey of 500 medium sized businesses found that 60% of respondents  are planning redundancies as a result of the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme coming to an end in October.

  • 89% of those surveyed have already made up to a fifth of staff redundant.
  • Less than 10% have no plans for any job cuts at all.
  • 41% recorded the same or an increase in revenues compared to the same time 12 months ago
  • 57% have either partially or fully reopened their offices or place of work
  • 29% have launched new products or services as a result of the pandemic

Community Leisure UK have issued a report about the impact of pandemic on their sector. Community Leisure UK is a members’ association representing registered organisations delivering public leisure, sport and/or culture services for communities across the UK, and represents one the sectors most severely affected by COVID-19. It’s also an important employer of graduates in fitness and heritage.

Current reserves, compared with pre-COVID levels, have dropped to 64%. Only 10% of reserves are expected to remain by the end of the current financial year If there is a second lockdown, trusts will have no reserves to rely on and it is unlikely they would be able to remain solvent. In addition, as the anticipated recovery period for members is 12-18 months after reopening – and longer for those with cultural facilities – there will be no reserves available to support trusts as they seek to regrow and rebuild.

Currently 26% of the contracted workforce (6975 jobs), and 50% of the casual workforce (9218 jobs) is at risk. This is in addition to over 6000 contracted and casual staff already confirmed for redundancy. This disproportionately affects the workforce in the 18-34 age bracket. There are currently 342 facilities at risk of permanent closure, including 35 libraries, 85 leisure centres and 24 swimming pools.

Depressing but nevertheless useful reading – the Centre of Retail Research’s constantly updated ‘Who’s gone bust’ list.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG, with IHS Markit, have issued their September Jobs Outlook report as of 9th September. This is the result of a survey of recruitment consultancies and is a very useful barometer of hiring conditions.

  • Recruitment activity picked up in August, but mainly in temporary roles. Demand for permanent positions continued to fall
  • But there has also been a very significant increase in the supply of candidates
  • Pay pressure is downwards
  • Regional data highlighted divergent trends, with permanent staff appointments rising in the South of England and the Midlands, but declining in the North of England and London.

Indeed’s excellent work on the analysis of their own vacancies continues with the most recent data from their Hiring Lab, this time to 4th September.

The redoubtable Jack Kennedy, one of the labour market analysis heroes of COVID, tells us that job postings have increased very slightly but we’re still running at about half of annual trend. Childcare, construction, medical and cleaning jobs were on the rise, the arts, social science and pharmacy fell.

In common with other analysis, Jack’s data suggests that London is not faring as well as some other regions: “At the regional level, London is now showing the biggest gap in job postings versus last year. The capital held up best in the early stages of the crisis, but with large numbers of office workers continuing to work remotely from the commuter belt, the lack of footfall appears to be having a substantial drag on sectors like hospitality, food service and retail”, and goes on to note that whilst hiring in other regions is on a gentle upward trajectory, London’s is flat.

Manpower Group have published their Q4 Employment Outlook survey, which asks business how they see total employment changing.

  • Outlook for Q4 2020 at -8%, up 4 points from last quarter’s 28-year low, but still the second weakest since the recession of 1992 (which had a disproportionate impact on employment)
  • Early signs of twin-track recovery as construction, finance and manufacturing all rise sharply while retail and hospitality are unmoved
  • Two-thirds of employers to overhaul workplace policies on remote working, flexi-time and new skills.

There’s also a rather nice infographic here.

And again, not 100% related to COVID, but of great interest nonetheless. Alan Manning and Graham Mazeine of the LSE have written this paper on precarious work in the UK, US and Germany. The authors examined data over 40 years (using British Household Panel Survey data in the UK) and make interesting findings. 

The second is that while insecurity is very cyclical (e.g. rising in the last recession and almost certainly rising in the COVID-19 pandemic), the authors found little long-run trend, it simply tends to rise with unemployment rates. Adjusting for changes in demographic and other socioeconomic characteristics in the workforce makes little difference to the overall raw trend, and the authors found that the proportion of workers that feels insecure at any given point in time has not seen any demographically-adjusted rise over the last 40 years. However, the authors also counsel that there is little data over this time period on perceived job quality, and that there is not information to assess if workers today have a different preference for atypical arrangements than they did 25 or 30 years ago. If they do, then ways in which workers  assess their own job security and job satisfaction may have shifted, making analysis of long-run trends in self-perceived job security difficult. They further suggest that for many workers, there is evidence that ‘flexible’ arrangement are not favoured by employees when the terms are loaded in the employers favour and that workers may simply be more accepting – or resigned – than they were in the past. This is an interesting and nuanced topic an

Firstly that there is little evidence of increased job insecurity over the time period, examining measures such as labour turnover rates and job tenure distributions.

Leave home – UK graduate labour market news to 26th August

Some block-rocking beats this week, inspired by the listening choices of top labour market analyst Fiona Cobb of the Careers Group.

This is an updated version of my Luminate post from earlier in the week with a bit of extra content from the ONS, CBI and BBC that came out in the last couple of days.

What we’re hearing:

  • Not surprisingly, we’re officially in a recession.
  • The graduate labour market has suffered significant damage, particularly in the arts – which may be the worst-affected sector in the UK. But things are far worse for non-graduates. Many key graduate employment sectors – in health, social care, IT, finance– have been much less affected than many other areas of the economy. Retail, hospitality, travel and accommodation employers have all taken long term hits.
  • The level of vacancies is running at about 50-60% of normal rates.
  • Things are also looking difficult for the self-employed, partly because a lot work in sectors, such as the arts, that have been badly affected and partly due to sheer lack of cash reserves although the sector has been more resilient than originally feared
  • Domestic student numbers seem to have held up strongly as young people opt for more education rather than taking their chances in an exceptionally difficult jobs market but applications are not the same thing as actual enrolments.
  • It is now very clear that there is a significantly greater interest in postgraduate study than usual and students may be willing to accept some virtual delivery if they’re assured it is only temporary
  • The outlook for international student recruitment is very tough but many of our key international competitors have their own issues and many, possibly most, prospective international students still seem to be at least considering study
  • Salaries are likely to remain stagnant or even fall
  • Decisions made about recruitment and business strength this year will also affect next year’s recruitment round (at least)
  • The collapse in employment in retail and services is likely to affect term-time jobs for students in the future and thus the ability for students from less advantaged backgrounds to support themselves at university
  • The pandemic is going to profoundly change the nature of work for many employees and professional services and IT workers in particular have proved as productive at home as in the office, so a widespread move to homeworking is likely for many graduates.

People Management continue their liveblog on employer actions in the pandemic.

This week’s updates on the effects of pandemic on UK society and the economy from the ONS are here,  reporting to the 20th August.

  • 95% of UK adults wore a face covering when leaving the house in the last week.
  • In the week starting Saturday 8 August, there were 3,002 new business incorporations per working day on average, a decrease from the previous week. There were 865 voluntary dissolution applications per working day on average.
  • Between 7 and 14 August 2020, the total volume of online job adverts decreased from 62% to 58% of its 2019 average, partially offsetting the large increase of the previous week.
  • Prelimary results from the 11th wave of the Business Impact of Coronavirus Survey (BICS, which left the field this weekend) suggest that 12% of the workforce remain on furlough leave, with 67% of furloughed employees receiving top ups to their pay,
  • Of businesses paused or currently trading, 10% said that their risk of insolvency was “moderate” (this is a lot of businesses) and 1% said it was “severe”.

The ONS have also produced analysis on the effects of pandemic on occupational switching.

  • Of those employed in Q1 and Q2 2020, 6.1% changed occupation in the first half of this year compared with 5.7% in the same period last year.
  • Associate professional and technical occupations experienced the greatest percentage of occupational outflows (20.9%) and occupational inflows (21.2%); over half (52.5%) also changed major industry. By far the largest group of those leaving associate professional occupations were those entering professional occupations.
  • Of the workers who changed occupation between Q1 and Q2 2020, over half (52.6%) were men, 26.9% were aged 35 to 49 years and 26.9% were aged 50 to 64 years.

HMRC have issued figures on the effects of COVID-19 on business and the take up of Government interventions.

  • Over the course of the pandemic, 1.16m employers have furloughed a total of 9.6m employees. Data is
  • 6m people have applied for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme by the end of July. Data is here.

There isn’t much commentary here because the Resolution Foundation have produced some characteristically excellent and insightful analysis of this data.

British Chambers of Commerce have updated their Business Impact Tracker, to the 19th August. This survey covers 502 business, 97% of which were SMEs.

  • 38 per cent of firms reported improved revenue from UK customers.
  • More than 1 in 3 of businesses say they have three months or less worth of cash in reserve.

A BBC survey of 50 large businesses has found that they do not plan to return all workers to the office in the near future.

  • 24 firms said that they did not have any plans in place to return workers to the office.
  • 20 had plans to gradually return some workers to the office.
  • 20 have opened offices for staff unable to work from home.
  • 3 have returned some workers to the office but do not plan to return any more.

One of the main reasons given for the lack of a substantial return was that firms could not see a way of accommodating large numbers of staff while social distancing regulations were still in place.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) released their Jobs Outlook report on 19th August.

In May-July, employer intentions to hire agency workers in the short term (the next three months) reached net: +6, the highest level since October-December 2019. Employers’ intentions to hire permanent staff also recovered to net: +5.. Overall, firms are slightly more likely to look to bring on temporary workers than permanent members of staff in the next three months. This is the first time that has been the case since May-July 2018.

When asked why temporary agency workers are important for their organisation, more employers say that agency workers are important for short-term access to key skills. The proportion highlighting this factor rose from 53% in January-March, before lockdown measures were introduced, to 67% in May-July.

The Learning and Work Institute have been examining the future of the Minimum Wage.

  • A majority of businesses don’t believe an increase will have a negative impact on them or wider UK employment levels. In fact, employers believe an increase would boost the nation’s productivity.
  • A majority of businesses (54%) supported the UK government’s policy of increasing the NLW to two-thirds of median income (projected to reach £10.50) by 2024.

Engineering UK have surveyed young people (aged 11 to 19) on their attitude to STEM.

  • The pandemic is deepening gender differences in career aspirations in engineering or technology
  • The gender gap when it comes to choosing a career in engineering or technology is still very much prevalent
  • Young people are concerned going to university or becoming an apprentice will be more difficult in the future
  • Job security and job availability are important factors for young people when considering their future career choices

The Institute of Employment Studies have resumed their vacancy analyses, this time on a monthly basis. This latest examines the month to 9th August.

  • The overall level of vacancies at 9th August was 504 thousand.
  • The overall level of vacancies has increased by almost 40 per cent compared to last month, or by more than 140 thousand vacancies.
  • Vacancy levels remain lower by 316 thousand posts compared to before the crisis began, and there are393 thousand fewer vacancies than at the same time last year.
  • In the first week of July vacancy levels were 65 per cent lower than for the equivalent week last year, whereas on the first week of August vacancy levels were 44 per cent lower.
  • Jobs in healthcare, social work and teaching have held up over the last four months.
  • There were an estimate 6.8 claimant unemployed for every available vacancy, up from 1.5 before the crisis began, but down from 7.9 reported for May

The Centre for Cities have updated their fascinating data on city centre footfall. As always this is essentially impossible to summarise but it has a lot of interactivity and it is remarkably easy to lose a lot of time examining it!

The LSE have looked at the lessons previous recessions can teach us about the COVID-19 downturn.

  • The Covid-19 crisis  and  the  three  most recent  UK  recessions  share  the  common  feature  of  a  disproportionate  impact  on  the  most vulnerable (the poorest, the youngest, the least educated, and ethnic minorities).
  • As of  June  2020,  the  youngest  group  (18-24)  are  3  percentage  points  more  likely  than average to be furloughed or suffer a cut of at least 50 percent in hours worked (.  Analogous  figures  for  those  with  only  GCSEs  qualifications  and  for  black workers are 8.5 and 7.8 percentage points respectively.
  • Previous recessions   brought   significant   long-term   damage   (such   as   lower   future employment,  wage  penalties)  to  those  most  affected  and  those  just  entering  the  UK workforce.
  • The LSE are concerned that the adverse effect on full-time education leavers might be exacerbated in this crisis, due to school and university closures.

The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) have issued a report making recommendations on how the UK economy might recover from the pandemic.

  • The IPPR estimate that one million furloughed jobs could be lost permanently, in the sectors most heavily affected by the crisis so far, such as hospitality, retail, entertainment, manufacturing, support services and construction.
  • Disabled people, carers, those in the shielded group and those with caring responsibilities are all significantly more likely to be in formal or informal stages of redundancy proceedings than the general population.
  • Retail, hospitality, manufacturing and construction are amongst the industries with the largest number of employees on furlough and are those which could take the longest to recover.
  • Most workers typically move within sectors rather than between them, so without support and training to switch jobs many risk long term unemployment. Those working in the hardest hit sectors have a lower than average level of qualifications which reduces their potential options.

The Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre have released ‘For Love Or Money’, an examination of DLHE data for creative arts, dealing particularly with motivations and earnings data. It’s not got a lot to do with COVID-19 (at this point, although the creative arts sector has been hit) but it’s an interesting examination of some of the evidence that develops a useful counter-narrative to some of the jaundiced views of the value of these qualifications.

The CBI’s monthly Distributive Trades Survey found retail employment fell at the fastest rate since February 2009 in the year to August, with an even sharper decline anticipated this month.

  • Employment in the retail sector fell sharply (-45% from -20% in May), at the sharpest pace since February 2009, with a faster fall expected in the quarter ahead (-52%).
  • Retail sales fell slightly in the year to August (-6% from +4% in July) and are expected to fall at a faster rate next month (-17%).
  • Orders fell again (-27% from -14% in July) and are expected to fall at a similar pace next month (-26%)
  • Internet sales grew (+46%) at a pace broadly in line with the long-run average (+45%), with a similar rise expected next month (+48%).
  • Retailers expect the business situation to improve moderately over the next three months (+7% from -33% in May).
  • Wholesalers saw sales fall at a somewhat faster pace than last month (-30% from -22%) but expect an easing in the decline in the year to September (-18%).
  • Motor traders posted their second consecutive month of growing sales (+32% from +18%), with another rise expected next month (+17%).

The light at the end of the tunnel – UK graduate labour market news to 10th August

It might be the light of an oncoming train, though.

Yes, it was inevitable that at some point I’d do some Half Man Half Biscuit, so here’s the one that references the High Peak. I’ll let you all enjoy Mrs Gibson’s jam and and we can reconvene in a couple of minutes.

Right, where were we? Ah yes. As always, there is a slightly shorter version without the graphs published on Luminate.

What we’re hearing:

  • The market bottomed out earlier in the year and is slowly recovering, but we are not, and look unlikely to be at any point soon, back to where we were in February.
  • The graduate labour market has suffered significant damage, particularly in the arts – which may be the worst-affected sector in the UK. But things are far worse for non-graduates.
  • Many key graduate employment sectors – in health, social care, IT, finance– have been much less affected than many other areas of the economy. Retail, hospitality, travel and accommodation employers have all taken long term hits.
  • Things are also looking difficult for the self-employed and SMEs. A significant minority of SMEs have greater outgoings than turnover.
  • Salaries are stagnant and likely to remain s.
  • Domestic student numbers seem to have held up strongly as young people opt for more education rather than taking their chances in an exceptionally difficult jobs market – but applications are not the same thing as actual enrolments.
  • It is now very clear that there is a significantly greater interest in postgraduate study than usual and students may be willing to accept some virtual delivery if they’re assured it is only temporary
  • The outlook for international student recruitment looks a little less gloomy than earlier in the pandemic. Many of our key international competitors have their own issues and many, possibly most, prospective international students still seem to be at least considering study. Universities are nervously awaiting registrations.
  • Decisions made about recruitment and business strength this year will also affect next year’s recruitment round (at least)
  • The collapse in employment in retail and services is likely to affect term-time jobs for students in the future and thus the ability for students from less advantaged backgrounds to support themselves at university
  • The pandemic is going to profoundly change the nature of work for many employees and professional services and IT workers in particular have proved as productive at home as in the office, so a widespread move to homeworking is likely for many graduates.

The UK is officially in recession.

UK gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have fallen by 20.4% in Q2 2020, marking the second consecutive quarterly decline after it fell by 2.2% in Q1. This meets the official definition of recession.

People Management continue their liveblog on employer actions in the pandemic.

The House of Commons Library have again updated their briefing on the effects of pandemic on the labour market, this time to 12th August and mainly covering new data from the ONS and the effects of the pandemic on minority groups in the labour market.

The August labour market overview from the ONS came out on 11th August.

The number of employees in the UK on payrolls is down around 730,000 compared with March 2020. This is mainly because of fewer people moving into payrolled employment.

Unemployment is largely unchanged at present because of increases in economic inactivity, with people out of work but not currently looking for work. The quarterly decrease in employment was driven by workers aged 65 years and over, the self-employed and part-time workers. Meanwhile full-time employees largely offset the decrease. Men and women were both affected.

Hours worked have continued to fall reaching record lows both on the year and on the quarter. Data is here by industry and here on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

A large number of people are estimated to be temporarily away from work, including furloughed workers; approximately 7.5 million in June 2020 with over 3 million of these being away for three months or more. The youngest workers, oldest workers and those in manual or elementary occupations were those most likely to be temporarily away from paid work during pandemic. There were also around 300,000 people away from work because of the pandemic and receiving no pay in June 2020.

Vacancies in the UK in May to July 2020 were at an estimated 370,000; this is 10% higher than the record low in April to June 2020. This is driven by SMEs, some of which are reporting taking on additional staff to meet COVID-19 guidelines.

The Claimant Count reached 2.7 million in July 2020, an increase of 116.8% since March 2020. This includes both those working with low income or hours and those who are not working.

Self employment fell by 278,000 in the quarter – a record.

 

Figure 3_ Record quarterly decrease for self-employed workersPay fell for all measures in the three months to June 2020. Total nominal pay fell by 1.2% on the year and regular nominal pay fell by 0.2%.

And in another worrying development, the number of people on zero-hours contracts has risen sharply.

Figure 5_ Number of people on zero-hours contracts has increased to over 1 million

This week’s updates on the effects of pandemic on UK society and the economy from the ONS are here,  reporting to the 13th August.

  • The number of VAT new reporters did increase in July 2020 but remained below the 2015 to 2019 historical average.
  • For the week starting Saturday 1 August, there were 904 voluntary dissolutions per working day on average, which remains below the Q3 2019 average.
  • Adzuna data showed that between 31 July and 7 August 2020, the total volume of online job adverts increased from 53% to 62% of its 2019 average, the largest weekly increase in 2020. Transport, logistics and warehousing saw the largest increase, rising 46 percentage points to 117% of its 2019 average. This is its fifth consecutive week of growth, starting from a value of just 33% of its 2019 average five weeks ago. The next largest increase was 31 percentage points, for the category of facilities and maintenance, to 136% of its 2019 average. Creative, design, arts and media, decreased 2.2 percentage points to 41% of its 2019 average. Full data is here.

The ONS has also reported on its fortnightly Business Impact of Coronavirus Survey (BICS) on 13th August.

  • Of all responding businesses, most industries reported 90% or more of businesses as currently trading, and as having been, for more than the last two weeks. 94% of all businesses reported currently trading as their current trading status, while 6% reported that they had temporarily closed or paused trading. 1% responded that they had permanently ceased trading in the period that the survey was live – 27 July to 9 August 2020.
  • Of businesses that have temporarily paused or closed trading, 6% intended to close some sites in the next three months, compared with 3% of businesses currently trading.
  • Across all businesses currently trading, 29% reported that operating costs were greater than, or equal to, turnover.
  • The arts, entertainment and recreation sector reported the largest percentage of businesses indicating that operating costs had exceeded turnover at 42%.
  • The arts, entertainment and recreation sector reported the highest proportion of the workforce returning from furlough leave in the last two weeks, at 25%, followed by the accommodation and food service activities sector and the construction sector, at 17% and 10% respectively. 16% of businesses in the sector had resumed trading in the last fortnight, and 8% more intend to start in the fortnight to the 23rd However, a quarter stated that they were not intending to reopen in the same period.

 

Figure 1_ The arts, entertainment and recreation sector reported the largest percentage of businesses starting to trade within the last two weeks after a pause in trading at 16%

  • Of businesses that have not permanently stopped trading, 32% had postponed or cancelled bookings, services and events
  • Of businesses that are continuing to trade, 54% reported a decrease in turnover outside of normal range while 11% reported that turnover had increased between 13 and 26 July 2020. The sector that had the highest percentage of their businesses reporting that their turnover increased was the wholesale and retail trade sector at 20%. Of businesses currently trading, the industries with the highest percentage of their businesses reporting that their turnover had decreased by more than 50% were the arts, entertainment and recreation sector, where 47% of business had seen turnover halved or worse.

The Resolution Foundation have issued a useful corrective to some of the misconceptions about how many people are furloughed.  In total nine million people have been furloughed for at least one three-week period since March, this cumulative figure does not reflect what’s happening right now. The number of people furloughed today – as employer contributions towards furlough pay kick in – is likely to be at most half, and maybe even as low as one-third, and is decreasing all the time.

Slide2-2-2048x1152 (1)

The Runnymede Trust have examined the effects on pandemic on the job prospects of Black and ethnic minority groups.

Black and minority ethnic people are more likely than white people to be working outside of their home at the current time. A third of BME people (33%) are in this position, compared with closer to a quarter of white people (27%). People of African origin are particularly likely to be working outside of their home (41%).

BME people are also more likely than white people to be classed as key workers. 28% of BME people are key workers, compared with 23% of white people. 32%  of BME key workers reported that they were not given adequate PPE compared with their white counterparts (20%).

British Chambers of Commerce have updated their Business Impact Tracker, to the 5th August . This survey covers 517 business, 97% of which were SMEs.

  • More than half of firms reported cashflow decrease since June 2020, more than a third of respondents with improved cashflow cite furlough scheme cash as the cause.
  • 43% of firms intend to use Furlough Bonus, but other Summer Statement support schemes

 

The CIPD and Adecco have released their quarterly labour market update (10th August) covering employer plans for Q3 2020 (July, August and September).

  • 49% of employers responding to the summer survey are planning to recruit in thesecond quarter of 2020 – up 9% from spring but down 17% from the winter 2019/20 quarter. Employment confidence has risen most sharply in manufacturing (+22) and administrative and support services (+18).
  • The slight fall in net employment intentions is due to a fall in confidence in both the private and voluntary sectors. The net employment balance for the private sector is –13, a decline from –9 in the spring report. A third (33%) of private sector employers say their intention is to decrease staff levels – up from 26% in the spring report.
  • The proportion of employers intending to make redundancies over the next three months has increased to 33%, rising 11% since last quarter.
  • The net employment figure – which measures the proportion of employers planning to increase or decrease staffing levels – dropped from -4 to -8.
  • Recruitment intentions are lowest among hospitality (26%), transport and storage (33%) and business services (36%). Meanwhile, hiring intentions are highest in healthcare (80%), public administration (70%) and education (62%).
  • 45% of organisations surveyed said they will maintain total staff levels. 21% said recruitment and redundancies will increase staff levels. 29% said their intention is to decrease staff levels.
  • 40% of private sector firms expect to freeze pay over the next 12 months.
  • Employers received a median number of 20 applicants for the last low-skilled vacancy they tried to fill compared with 16 applicants in the summer 2019 report.
  • The supply of applicants for professional level jobs (ie graduate level) has also increased during the same period, up from five to seven applicants.

These last two points are extremely interesting and seem to counter the current fashionable view that the labour market is somehow saturated with graduates.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and  EMSI have updated the Jobs Recovery Tracker to 9th August. The latest analysis by the REC found that there were 1.10 million active job postings in the week starting 3 August, up from 1.04 million in the previous week. However, this remains well below the 1.35 million job postings active before lockdown in the first week of March.

Last week also saw the highest number of new job postings since lockdown began, with almost 126,000 adverts posted between 3-9 August. The previous high was the first week of June, with 112,000 new postings.

REC have also worked with KPMG and IHS Markit to produce their UK Report on Jobs on the 6th August. This is a survey of recruitment and employment consultancies, and is always a useful guide to hiring conditions. Although vacancies declined, the rate of reduction of both temporary and permanent hires eased considerably in July. However redundancies have led to a substantial increase in the availability of workers and this is driving starting pay down.

Indeed have also analysed their own jobs postings, to the 7th August.

Overall postings were down -56% on last year’s trend as of 7th August, but the total number of vacancies has risen by a fifth from its trough in early June.

Like most other analysts Indeed are finding the evidence is pointing to the Scottish labour market as being particularly badly affected.

A great many workers have seen their working conditions change rapidly and profoundly. As a consequence, the consultancy Robert Walters have found that 47% of managers are concerned about their employees burning out. The report gives a range of useful suggestions to protects workers from the risk of burnout.

And finally, the Daily Telegraph reports that arts degrees are useful in the labour market in this piece by, er, me.

We will praise him – graduate labour market news to 23rd July

Right, where were we? Oh yes. If you’re going to cast aside the premise of posting tunes you like that you think will appeal to other people for tune you like that you are pretty sure won’t appeal to anyone else then you might as well do it in style, and for a real reason. So in memorial to the inimitable Tim Smith, here’s some Cardiacs to sing along to (you won’t be able to sing along to it).

As always there is a version of this post on Prospects Luminate.

What we’re hearing:

  • The graduate labour market has suffered significant damage, particularly in the arts – but things are far worse for non-graduates. Many key graduate employment sectors – in health, social care, IT, business services – have been much less affected than many other areas of the economy.
  • Things are also looking difficult for the self-employed, partly because a lot work in sectors, such as the arts, that have been badly affected and partly due to sheer lack of cash reserves although the sector has been more resilient than originally feared
  • It does look as if many large graduate employers are not particularly keen at present to engage in the initiatives in the Government’s Plan for Jobs
  • It is now very clear that there is a significantly greater interest in postgraduate study than usual and students may be willing to accept some virtual delivery if they’re assured it is only temporary
  • The outlook for international student recruitment is very tough but many of our key international competitors have their own issues and many, possibly most, prospective international students still seem to be at least considering study
  • Many employers are yet to make firm decisions about recruitment for the rest of 2020, but the decision point is rapidly approaching. Don’t assume that the graduate labour market will remain this subdued all year.
  • Salaries are likely to remain stagnant or even fall
  • Decisions made about recruitment and business strength this year will also affect next year’s recruitment round (at least)
  • The collapse in employment in retail and services is likely to affect term-time jobs for students in the future and thus the ability for students from less advantaged backgrounds to support themselves at university
  • UCAS figures suggest widespread home student deferral may not be as serious a danger as was feared earlier in the year but applications and actual student registrations are two different things.
  • A ‘V’ shaped economic recovery now looks rather less likely than something showing an early initial surge to a lower level than before followed by a much slower, shallower recovery.

People Management have a liveblog on employer actions in the pandemic.

The Government issues its ‘Plan For Jobs’ on 8th July. A great deal has been written about it elsewhere, but the key points for the graduate labour market include:

  • A one-off payment of £1,000 to UK employers for every furloughed employee who remains continuously employed through to the end of January 2021. Employees must earn above 520 per month on average
  • A new Kickstart Scheme, to create 6-month work placements aimed at those aged 16-24 who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment.
  • An additional £32 million funding over the next 2 years for the National Careers Service
  • £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over
  • Support for 18-19 year olds to take college courses if job opportunities are not available
  • £40 million to fund private sector capacity to introduce a job finding support service
  • Tripling the number of sector-based work academy placements in England
  • The government is funding a scheme to support the redeployment of construction workers with in-demand skills who are at risk of redundancy
  • Office for Talent, to focus on attracting, retaining and developing top research and science talent across the UK and internationally.
  • £40 million in a Green Jobs Challenge Fund for environmental charities and public authorities to create and protect 5,000 jobs in England

The Institute for Fiscal Studies does note, however, that a lot of this funding had already been allocated.

The Resolution Foundation have produced ‘The Truth Will Out’, a guide to understanding labour market statistics in this challenging time, and why different elements of Office of National Statistics data seem to be telling different stories. In particular, the Foundation examine why claimant counts  rose sharply in April but official unemployment estimates did not. The Foundation identifies a number of  points to consider

  • The crisis occurred in the middle of the roll-out of Universal Credit.The replacement of legacy benefits by UC leads to more people being captured in the Claimant Count, including those who would have previously only claimed Child Tax Credits and Housing Benefit
  • The easing of the usual work-search conditions and contact between claimants and work coaches between March and June means that many new UC recipients have not had their work status accurately updated as quickly as usual.
  • Longitudinal survey data suggests that at least 27 per cent (400,000), and likely many more, of the 1.6 million Claimant Count rise between March and May is accounted for by those still working, furloughed workers, or Self-Employment Income Support Scheme recipients. While some of these people will ultimately be thought of as unemployed, it is far from clear that all should be right now.
  • The collapse in vacancies caused by lockdown, meant that many people who did not have a job during April, or who lost self-employed work, did not make an effort to look for new work.
  • Key employment measures do not give a complete picture of the state of the labour market. The headline employment measure includes people who are temporarily not working (the proportion of employees in this group has risen from around 7 per cent before lockdown to just under 30 per cent in the five weeks after lockdown began), while PAYE data misses out the self-employed, and includes employees who are not working but are being paid (including furloughed workers).

The Office for Budgetary Responsibility (OBR) have produced a report outlining scenarios for the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

The central scenario – which is now less positive than the central scenario issued in April – assumes activity recovers,  albeit slowly and incorporates some scarring to potential GDP. In this reading GDP falls by 12.4% in2020 and unemployment peaks at 11.9 per cent in Q4 of this year, possibly seeing more than 4 million out of work. It goes without saying that these are extremely serious economic effects.

Applications to university through UCAS have held up. 40.5% of all UK 18 year olds have applied – the first time more than four out of ten have applied by this point in the cycle. Last year’s equivalent figure was 38.9%.

281,980 young people have applied, increasing from 275,520 a year ago, despite there being 1.5% fewer 18 year olds in the population than last year.

This week’s updates from the ONS are here – reporting to the 16th July.

  • Between 3 and 10 July the volume of total online job adverts using Adzuna stood at 48% of its 2019 average. Almost all categories saw minimal changes from the previous week, although for the first time since early April, the volume of job adverts in catering and hospitality was above 30% of its 2019 average.
  • 4 million employments had been placed on furlough,
  • 14 million employers had made at least one CJRS claim
  • 57% of employments at employers with 5 to 9 employees had been furloughed against just 19% at employers with 250 or more employees
  • Employees aged 17 were most likely to be furloughed. 61% of female employees aged 17 were furloughed, the equivalent figure for males was 58%
  • Across the age bands and by gender, male employees aged 41 to 49 were least likely to be furloughed (28%), while for females, employees aged 41 to 57 were the least likely to be furloughed (23%)

The ONS have also published an analysis of which jobs are most able to be done from home. They use data from the (excellent) US resource O*Net, which looks at the characteristics of specific jobs to identify five factors that are associated with being less able to work from home. These are:

  • whether the job has to be carried out in a specific location
  • amount of face-to-face interaction with others
  • exposure to burns, infections and other hazards
  • whether the job requires physical activity
  • use of tools or protective equipment

The ONS then included data on the  extent to which digital communication is integrated into the workplace, and whether employees have the technology they need to work from home.

Employees who earn higher hourly wages are more likely to be able to work from home. Chief executives and senior officials, whose median earnings are £44.08 an hour, are among those most able to work remotely, as are financial managers and directors (£31.38) and programmers and software development professionals (£21.97). Gardeners, whose median hourly earnings are £10.27, are very unlikely to be able to work from home, as are carpenters and joiners (£13.18) and elementary construction occupations such as labourers (£10.25).

The median earnings of employees in the 20% of the workforce most likely to be able to work from home is £19.01, compared with £11.28 for workers in the 20% of workers in jobs least likely to be adaptable to home working.

The House of Commons Library have again updated their briefing on the effects of pandemic on the labour market, this time to 17th July and mainly covering the Plan for Jobs and OBR publications. Although it doesn’t contain anything that has not been covered in these summaries, this remains probably the single best overview of the current state of play (outside of Luminate!) and is highly recommended.

The Institute of Student Employers, in conjunction with the International Network of Employers and University Careers Services, have released this important report on the impact of pandemic on graduate recruitment around the world. Tristram Hooley provides his usual astute summary of the contents. The main points are that

  • Covid-19 matters everywhere and it matters to everyone.
  • The graduate market mirrors problems in the wider economy. While graduates often escape the worst impacts of recessions, thesize and health of the graduate labour market is tied up with the wider economy.
  • Graduate recruitment volumes are downeverywhere. This has led to overall numbers of jobs in the formal graduate labour market going into decline in all 21 countries that participated.
  • The graduate market will not recover straight away. Only 3 countries expect that the market will stabilise (Canada, South Africa and New Zealand) and only three more anticipate growth (Belgium, Poland and the UAE).
  • Uncertainty is the only thing that people are certain of.
  • Working practices and business processes are changing and moving online.
  • Young people may prolong their time in education.

Do read this report.

British Chambers of Commerce have updated their Business Impact Tracker, to the 22nd July. Businesses are, on average, operating at 53% capacity. 54% said that customer demand was a barrier to restart and 52% said that the prospect of future lockdowns was a major obstacle to resuming operations. 13% had laid staff off and 33% expected to do so in the next 3 months. 62% of respondents expect some or all of their staff to be working remotely in the next 12 months – note that 97% of respondents to this survey were SMEs.

The Institute of Employment Studies have released analysis on the impact of COVID-19 on the low-paid.  Those in low paid jobs are more likely to be women, to be young, to be black or from a minority ethnic group, to be under-employed and/ or to have lower qualifications.  So those in low paid work are already disadvantaged in the labour market compared to higher paid workers.

Employment has fallen significantly already for those in low paid jobs – down by four percentage points between February and April, from 82 to 78% – equivalent to a fall of 140 thousand. Meanwhile employment is unchanged for those in higher paying jobs. Those in lower paying jobs are twice as likely to report that they are ‘away’ from work (but still employed) and report a greater reduction in usual hours of work than those in higher paying jobs.

The CIPD have conducted research finding that  the number of people working from home post-pandemic may double, and that homeworking has not negatively affected productivity.

Employers expect that the proportion of people working from home on a regular basis once the crisis is over will increase to 37% compared to 18% before the pandemic.

Employers also expect the proportion of staff who work from home all the time to rise to 22% post pandemic compared to 9% before lockdown measures started to be imposed. Employers believe people working from home are as productive as other workers.  28% of employers believe the increase in homeworking has increased productivity or efficiency, compared to 28% of organisations that report the opposite effect and 37% that don’t believe there has been any effect on productivity or efficiency.

The Centre for Cities have updated their High Street Recovery Tracker to 15th  June. It looks at the average city centre footfall for the last week in June compared to pre-pandemic levels and whilst not easy to summarise for labour market updates is nevertheless worth a look. Basildon, Birkenhead, Chatham, Burnley and Doncaster are seeing town centre footfalls at the higher proportion of their pre-lockdown levels, Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Oxford and London are seeing the lowest percentages of levels pre-lockdown.

The Centre have also analysed Indeed data to establish where the hardest places in the UK to find a job might be. Their method uses the number of job searches against the number of updated CVs for a given area, and finds that Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Dundee, Luton, Burnley, Birkenhead and Barnsley have the highest ratio of CVs to vacancies, and Cambridge, Oxford, Reading, Exeter, Bristol,

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and  EMSI have updated the Jobs Recovery Tracker. This one goes to 12th July. The total number of active job adverts was 1.05 million in the week of 6-12 July, up from 990,000 in the final week of June. There were also 106,000 new job adverts posted in the week of 6-12 July, 14,000 more than the week of 22-28 June. IT roles saw a particularly strong increase, as did graphic designers and sales administrators.

Indeed have also analysed their own jobs postings, to the 10th July. Overall postings were down -59% on last year’s trend as of 10th July, a level that has changed little since May. Weakening most in the past fortnight have been social science (mostly psychologists), physicians & surgeons, pharmacy, insurance and medical information (including clinical managers and healthcare advisors), as some of the healthcare categories that had held up relatively well earlier start to tail off. Sports and hairdressing saw a modest recovery.

The majority of tour operators and destination management companies (DMCs), are set to make large scale redundancies as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, unless the Government provides more financial support to the sector.

  • 60% will be forced to make further redundancies in August when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme tapers off
  • 88% expect to make between 25% and 100% of their staff redundant
  • 53% expect their business to last no more than 6 months

PWC have issued another update to their ongoing analysis of the impact of pandemic on the economy, this time to 22nd July. This one features the prospects for labour market recovery.

PWC expect demand for labour to fall about 5% over the course of 2020, with accommodation and food services seeing a 22% reduction in labour demand and the arts seeing a fall of 18%. Admin and support and energy and utilities are expected to see no change in demand and financial services only a modest 1% fall. This will lead to about 17% of furloughed workers losing their jobs – about 1.6 million workers. Again, accommodation and food will be hit hardest, losing about a third of furloughed workers, although PWC anticipation over a fifth of furloughed workers in the arts and in education losing their jobs. As well as making the unsurprising prediction that jobs in health and social care will thrive, PWC also observe that the Local Government Association estimates that the ‘low carbon workforce’ will treble by 2030 and that demand for digital skills and transferrable skills such as creativity, critical thinking, interpersonal communication skills and leadership skills will also become more important as technology advances.

 

Efficient, logical, effective and practical – UK graduate labour market news to 27th June

This is a bit late and since I’m not doing a proper one next week due to having some proper time off, I’ll do a bit of a mid-week update here, which includes bits of the Luminate piece earlier in the week and updates the rest to today.

Careers-related soundtrack is from OMD with Genetic Engineering. You want this one loud.

What we’re hearing:

  • As lockdown eases things seem to be improving in those sectors that are getting back to work
  • But we are a very long way at present from the labour market we had in February
  • The graduate labour market has suffered significant damage, particularly in the arts – but things are far worse for non-graduates. Many key graduate employment sectors – in health, social care, IT, business services – have been much less affected than many other areas of the economy.
  • Things are also looking difficult for the self-employed although that may be partly because a lot work in sectors, such as the arts, that have been badly affected
  • Many SMEs are short of cash and have no prospect of recruitment right now.
  • But many businesses feel they can get back to operation quickly once restrictions are eased and are keen to do so
  • It is now very clear that there is a significantly greater interest in postgraduate study than usual. It’s not yet clear how enthusiastic prospective students might be about a blended learning experience though
  • The outlook for international student recruitment is very tough but many of our key international competitors have their own issues
  • Many employers are yet to make firm decisions about recruitment for the rest of 2020 and are continuing to defer decisions. Some businesses have quietly shelved recruitment plans, but others are making plans to recruit if the opportunity and business conditions allow. Don’t assume that the graduate labour market will remain this subdued all year.
  • Salaries are likely to remain stagnant or even fall
  • Decisions made about recruitment and business strength this year will also affect next year’s recruitment round.
  • We’re getting increasingly concerned about the way the collapse in employment in retail and services might affect term-time jobs for students in the future and thus the ability for students from less advantaged backgrounds to support themselves at university
  • There are also worries about student deferral, not merely because of the reduced financing for 2020 that will follow, but also because of the likely much larger 2021 entry cohort (undergraduate and postgraduate, home and international) result, and the ability of institutions (who are likely to have much less resources available) to cope with that.

The Bank of England reported its quarterly Agent’s summary of business conditions on 18th June, this for Q2.

In business and finance, activity weakened further overall, but developments across sectors were mixed. Activity held up in corporate restructuring, audit, debt management, employment and probate law, IT and telecommunications. Insurance activity was also maintained and demand for banking and financial services remained strong as companies sought finance to bridge the lockdown. But discretionary spending cuts have led to weakening in marketing, advertising and recruitment services.

In the professional services sector, many employees have been able to work from home during lockdown and that has led to reduced disruption. A number of companies said they don’t expect to return even to limited onsite working until the autumn. Some have been able to improve productivity during lockdown, reducing their need for staff.

Manufacturers are resuming production, though many are operating well below full capacity due to social distancing measures , and a high proportion of workers remain on furlough or reduced hours.

Social distancing and weak demand are expected to constrain output for several months, with a consensus of production being down 20% by the end of the year. The aerospace, automotive, heavy engineering and oil and gas industries have been most severely affected, leading to redundancies with more expected as the furlough scheme unwinds.

Food producers have also been hit by loss of food service business and a drop in demand for pre-packaged food, which has been only partially offset by higher demand from supermarkets. The industry estimates it could take two to three years for food service demand to return to pre-pandemic levels. By contrast, producers of chemicals, technology and healthcare and personal protective equipment (PPE) have reported strong demand. Supply chains were generally stable, with only a few reports of shortages.

Construction activity resumed on a phased basis in May and June, though mainly on sites where building had already started or was close to completion. Activity was being constrained by social distancing measures and by shortages of materials. Enquiries and orders for commercial work over the next two years have ‘collapsed’ and the industry is concerned that changes to working habits as a result of the pandemic could affect office developments. Redundancy consultations are reported to be underway at some employers.

However, public sector projects were holding up, and housebuilding activity was resuming slowly, though house builders expected output to remain well below normal levels for some time.

In the retail sector, while the majority of workers remain on furlough for the time being, permanent store closures, and therefore job losses are expected. Some smaller retailers are reluctant to take staff off furlough until there is more clarity over how demand will evolve.

In travel and tourism, major operators have already announced thousands of redundancies, and many smaller contacts in the sector also expect to cut jobs. Some leisure and fast food companies reported a small reduction in the use of furloughing as outlets begin to reopen.

boe employment intentions

The graph for employment intentions over the next six months is unequivocal – we expect to see significant redundancies.

Pay pressure has fallen sharply, as companies have deferred pay deals, cut pay or reduced working hours. There are also reports of sharp declines in bonus and commission payments.

The long-awaited data from the Graduate Outcomes survey of university leavers from 2017/18 was released last week. Just to declare an interest, I sat on the Steering Group.

Overall 71.8% of UK domiciled first degree graduates from the UK were working after 15 months. 83.% were studying, and 9.5% were combining both work and study (mainly working full time). 5.1% were unemployed and 5.2% were engaged in other activity.

Here’s a blog I wrote for Jisc on the data itself, and another I wrote for WonkHE on why it’s still relevant in the COVID-19 era. Tristram Hooley has his say here and WonkHE data guru David Kernohan is here.

There will be a great deal more on this data over the coming weeks and months as more is released and data users get their own datasets.

This week’s updates from the ONS are here – reporting to the 25th June.

Nearly half of all working adults (49%) had worked from home between 11 and 14 June 2020, an increase from 41% the previous week. This was mainly driven by adults shifting from not actively working to working. 5% of the workforce had returned from furlough leave between 18 May and 14 June 2020. Data from the (ONS’s) Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) to 21st June showed that 61% of working adults said the pandemic was having an impact on their work. The most common impacts reported were

  • decrease in hours worked
  • being furloughed
  • finding working from home difficult

The proportion of working adults who reported they had travelled to work in the past seven days increased to 44% this week from 41% last week.

One-third of adults (33%) who had worked in the last seven days said they had done so exclusively at home – a decrease from 38% last week

The House of Commons Library have updated their briefing on the effects of pandemic on the economy, largely to take into account the ONS labour market update. Although much of the content is familiar to regular readers of these updates it remains an excellent resource as an overview of the whole impact on the UK, and particularly important from a policy point of view as this is the core of Commons briefings on the topic. Two important diagrams are this on the sectors affected by furlough

Frulough by sector

And this on the regional impact

furlough by region

The ESRC’s Economics Observatory, has updated with a very insightful and thoroughly referenced analysis of the prevalence, effects and possible future of homeworking.

Of particular interest is the latter section referencing work from the US. A survey of 1,500 hiring managers found that more than half reported working remotely has gone better than expected, while only one in ten said it has gone worse.  US Jobs that are difficult to perform under social distancing policies are more often held by workers who are less likely to hold a college degree, to have a large amount of liquid wealth, to be white or to have been born in the United States.

They have also examined the effect of pandemic on the UK oil and gas industry, and report that Oil and Gas UK predict 25-30,000 job losses over the next year and a half unless there is direct Government policy action. The supply chains contractors, particularly those dealing with exploration, appraisal and new field developments, will particularly suffer.

In a similar vein, McKinsey have produced this discussion paper on the future of work in Europe. It’s a chunky 52 page number, that covers a lot of very interesting ground, but particularly eye-catching is Exhibit 13 (we don’t do ‘Figures’ in this kind of analysis) which states that current trends towards a higher level of education in the European workforce are not going to abate with automation and post-pandemic.

mckinsey

Almost the areas of employment expected to see growth are those where tertiary education is the norm, whilst with very few exceptions, those expected to shrink ask for lower levels of qualification. There seems very little evidence that graduates will be in less demand in the next few years. The whole paper is very highly recommended.

Time to revisit the IZA’s magnificent collection of global data to examine the effects of COVID-19. Data nerds everywhere can find things to bewitch and delight them within. I am delighted to report Prospects Luminate is amongst the global resources listed.

The IES have updated their ongoing analysis of Adzuna data on job vacancies from the Government’s ‘Find A Job’ site, to June 21st.

112,000 new vacancies were notified in the week to June 21st, up on the previous week and the third weekly rise in a row. There were 386,000 notified vacancies, again a healthy increase on the previous week and the best since the mid-April surge after Easter – but still running at about half the levels pre-pandemic. The IES remain cautious but suggest that the data shows tentative signs of recovery in the labour market, particularly in areas such as legal, IT, sales, accounting/finance, and engineering. Notably, these are all areas where the workforce are predominantly graduate.

However, the comparison of unemployment and vacancy data, which reflect the situation in mid-May before any increase in vacancies emerged, show that there were over eight unemployed claimants per vacancy, up from around four and a half in April.

This is the average across the country, and in some ex-industrial and urban areas outside of the south and east of England there may be as many as 50 claimants per vacancy.

This week the IES have again looked at SOC data for the period between the second week in March and the third week in June, and this is especially enlightening for examining the graduate labour market.

IES SOC2

Everything down to Business and Public Service Associate Professionals are SOCs 1 to 3 – so professional level vacancies. Note that these are percentage falls and a fall, for example, of 66.7% in business and finance service professionals is extremely grave but this is a very large job area and so there will still be many unfilled vacancies.

There is also a very detailed 3 digit SOC analysis for the same period.

Finally, there is also an analysis of the data using Adzuna’s own categories. All jobs categories have seen increases in vacancies in June, with sales seeing the largest rise.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) have surveyed employers along with ComRes for their JobsOutlook. Business confidence in the UK economy improved between May and June, although it remains strongly negative. Far more encouragingly, more employers are planning to expand their workforce than reduce it in the next three months. The net balance now sits at +6, an improvement of 11 percentage points from early May. Employers’ hiring intentions for the medium term (the next 4-12 months) also improved, rising from net: +6 in early May to net: +15 in June.

One particular area that has been affected by pandemic is work experience, and this has prompted a good deal of interesting discussion of how virtual work experience might be organised and managed. FE Week carries an interesting piece looking at this question.

Another area that has seen a substantial hit are the creative industries. The Creative Industries Federation commissioned Oxford Economics to examine the impact of pandemic on the sector.  The report predicts a 119,000 drop in employment among employees and a further 287,000 job losses among self-employed workers, compared to 2019 levels. In total, 406,000 creative jobs – 1 in 5 of the entire industry workforce – are considered at risk. More than one in three self-employed respondents to the research reported having had all their freelance contracts terminated by Q1 2020. 46% had experienced half of their freelance contracts terminated. The report includes sub-sector breakdowns.

PWC are back with another examination of the economic effects of COVID-19, right up to June 24th. Much of it discusses the UK labour market figures from the ONS. PWC remark that 79% of businesses were trading at the end of May and another 9% were expecting to be trading by the middle of June. Businesses also seem to have stabilised their cash reserves, with around 43% of businesses having  cash reserves of up to six months. The cash position for larger businesses  tends to be better. The economic projections are useful but not joyful reading; the consensus forecast currently has UK GDP falling by 9.2% this year – needless to say that is new territory for the UK economy. There is also a very interesting section on trade which makes sobering reading and is likely to have a bearing on the UK labour market in time.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies have published their own analysis of the regional impacts of COVID-19 in England, focusing on three key areas of vulnerability. The whole report is interesting, but our attention is with the labour market impacts. The IFS find that more affluent local authorities might face a bigger labour market challenge than first anticipated because many workers are moving from one local authority to another to work. LAs that are not usually vulnerable to this kind of shock appear to be under threat, and if many workers in shut-down sectors live in a different local area from where they work, it is possible that the economic hit will be felt in a different place from the need for social support, which is a significant policy challenge.

In addition, the IFS note that one effect of this crisis may be to expose many workers to the means-tested benefits system for the first time. The way this affects their perception of the system and of unemployment in general may be a long-term effect of the pandemic on policy.

Life’s what you make it – UK graduate labour market news to 15th June

4 wonderful minutes of the late Mark Hollis. I’ll see you back shortly while you practise your ambient sound effects.

To make up for my effrontery in taking a holiday last week, this is a bumper edition.

What we’re hearing:

  • The labour market seems to have hit bottom for now in March, but although things are better now the market has remained stable at a much lower level than pre-lockdown, rather than continued to recover through May.
  • Much of the graduate labour market has suffered significant damage, particularly in the arts – but things are far worse for non-graduates
  • Many SMEs are running short of cash – Chambers of Commerce were reporting half would run out money before the end of summer – and have no prospect of recruitment right now.
  • We’re expecting a real surge in postgraduate applications and it’s something students are really keen to discuss
  • The outlook for international student recruitment is very tough but many of our key international competitors have their own issues. Globally some innovative ideas are being discussed and a lot will hinge on students’ appetite for virtual delivery
  • Many employers are yet to make firm decisions about recruitment for the rest of 2020 – this goes particularly for international businesses. We’re keeping an eye on what happens in the US as the big corporate training schemes will be influenced by US employer decisions.
  • Some businesses have quietly shelved recruitment plans, but others are – equally quietly – making plans to recruit if the opportunity and business conditions allow.
  • Salaries are likely to remain stagnant or even fall
  • Decisions made about recruitment and business strength this year will also affect next year’s recruitment round.
  • We’re getting increasingly concerned about the way the collapse in employment in retail and services might affect term-time jobs for students in the future. This will affect the ability for students from less advantaged backgrounds to support themselves at university
  • There are also worries about student deferral, not merely because of the reduced financing for 2020 that will follow, but also because of the likely much larger 2021 entry cohort (undergraduate and postgraduate, home and international) result, and the ability of institutions (who are likely to have much less resources available) to cope with that
  • The uneven distribution of impacts means that the country will need to make some significant interventions in the next few months to avoid exacerbating existing disadvantage. The HE sector should have a very important role to play here.

UK GDP fell 10.4% in the three months to April, with a 20.4% fall in April, according to the ONS.

The ONS do urge caution on the exact numbers as the data can become less reliable at times of rapid change, but there is no doubt April saw the largest monthly GDP drop on record. The rapid decline of the service sector was a key driver, with the accommodation and food sector seeing a 40.9% drop in GDP over the three months, and the crucially important retail sector falling by 14.5%. Manufacturing and construction also saw significant falls, with manufacture of cars and housebuilding particularly badly affected.

Also, from the ONS, the  weekly update on the economic impact of pandemic – reporting to the 11th June. 42% of businesses in the UK continuing to trade had less than six months of cash reserves, while for businesses who had temporarily closed or paused trading this was 58%. The data is shown below.

cash reserves

30% of the workforce in businesses still trading had been furloughed by the end of May.

It is interesting to note that the majority of businesses trading online state that online sales have at least held steady or increased. 32% have seen online sales increase. Another interesting thing to note is that the ONS are reporting a slight increase in the number of firms newly reporting VAT – in other words newly trading firms – in May. The number is well below the rolling five year average but is another piece of evidence suggesting that the worst has passed for now.

The ESRC are funding an initiative, the Economics Observatory, that aims to amalgamate information about the effects of COVID-19 on the UK economy. There is an interesting section on labour market effects that will contain a lot of information familiar to readers of these updates but which also has a useful summary of academic studies of the 2008 recession..

An important staple of these updates is the sterling work by the Institute of Employment Studies (IES), working hard to demonstrate why they’re such a well-regarded organisation in labour market research. This week’s update of their analyses of Adzuna data (this time to 7th June) is here, and reports an upturn in vacancies of 6.5 per cent on last week – 21,000 new vacancies – to 364,000. This is now 64 per cent down on the same period last year and reverses last week’s small fall in new vacancies. Health, IT, education and social care jobs (almost all graduate entry) account for just over half of all vacancies – even though the number of jobs in IT has halved since March. There are some signs of improving numbers of vacancies on last month in a small number of job types – in particular in IT, accounting and finance, warehousing/ logistics, customer services and sales, but we have to be wary as these small fluctuations may be seasonal rather than a genuine change in the labour market.

This week’s Unsung Heroes award for labour market excellence goes to the IES coders who have matched the vacancy data to Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes, a job I am heartily glad I did not have to do, but which allows IES to examine some of the data at SOC level (only about half the vacancies could be matched). They find that associate professional, administrative and secretarial and skilled trades roles have fallen by the largest percentages – the latter two particularly concerning as they were badly hit by the last recession and had arguably not entirely recovered. The IES promise more from this study, and I’ll keep an eye on it.

Indeed have also been doing an excellent job analysing their own data and have published this analysis of job search terms on the site to the 6th June. The reopening of non-essential retailers has seen an increase in jobseeker interest, but the significant trend appears to be that searches for remote working are running at nearly 4 times their level this time last year.

Indeed also provide continuing analysis of their job ads and the most recent update runs to June 12th. Indeed have international data and note that the UK labour market now seems to be lagging that in some other countries. In the latest week, childcare saw the strongest rise, up 6.2 percentage points as nurseries and preschools reopen. Other categories to see improvements in the latest week were loading & stocking, customer service and beauty & wellness, the latter two particularly welcome as they had been hit particularly badly.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) have updated their Jobs Recovery Tracker, run in conjunction with EMSI, to June 7th. This uses jobs data from a variety of online sources and so reports higher numbers than some others. New roles saw a modest rise in the last week with 963,000 jobs reported and 112,000 new postings The largest increase in active job adverts was for customer service reps, rising by 18.6% in the first week in June, but the news is not all good as there was also an 18% rise in vacancies in parking and civil enforcement. Speech therapy – a graduate profession that has experienced shortages recently – was also up 8.8%, and therapists in general saw a rise in numbers. Graduate occupations seeing declining vacancies included photographer/AV operatives, tax professionals, architects and dentists .

The Resolution Foundation have spotlighted local and regional effects of COVID-19. The Foundation look at changes in unemployment claimant counts to map the effects of pandemic.  Areas that already had high claimant counts have been hit particularly hard and these are often coastal towns with important local tourism industries. Many also have ageing populations. There are some significant implications for inequality here.

LinkedIn report on global hiring trends and their Chief Economist, Karin Kimbrough, examined the situation on 11th June. China went back into positive year-on-year hiring growth by June 5th, and France and Singapore saw signs of a sustained sharp recovery., whilst hiring in the US, Australia, UK and Italy had broadly stabilised. LinkedIn data suggests hiring began to grow gradually starting four to six weeks after lockdown measures began to relax – where those measures were taken – but do urge caution due to differences in national Government policies.

The Centre for Cities have produced two interesting analyses this week. The first is a very interesting analysis of anonymised mobile phone data used to examine city centre footfall. This is not easily summed up as it’s quite complex  But the Centre seems to find that the large, diverse and populous cities of the UK with a strong skilled employment market have significantly lower footfall compared to their pre-lockdown levels than cities with a weaker graduate labour market, and that footfall tends to come more from within the city than it did pre-pandemic. Presumably remote working plays an important role in this.

The second examines Job Retention Scheme data for regional furlough trends by city. 33.7% of the workforce in Crawley and 30% of the Burnley workforce are currently furloughed. However less than 20% of the workforce in Exeter, Cardiff, Oxford and Cambridge are furloughed.

Our friends and colleagues in the US at NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers have been surveying their members.  Many are big multinationals with UK graduate training schemes and the decisions taking in the US will influence UK hiring patterns – so their findings are well worth considering.

  • 7% of employers have revoked or will revoke full-time offers to graduates from the Class of 2020.
  • 31% of responding employers are delaying start dates for full-time hires
  • Among the employers delaying start dates, most (77%) report the length of the delay is one to three months.
  • 66% of employers plan to start full-time hires working remotely

And finally, here’s the new Graduate Outcomes data for 2018 graduates!

Before HESA send out the data ninjas, this is the annual Graduate Outcomes data from Ireland, produced by the Higher Education Authority with the Central Statistics Office.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable read for data nerds starved of UK graduate destination data, and also gives us some pointers on good questions to ask and ways to present this data. The Irish destinations survey examined Irish graduates from institutes of technology, colleges and universities 9 months after graduation with an overall response rate of 51% (54% for university graduates).

Figures were quite similar to the UK’s DLHE data, with 71% in full time work, 12% in further study and 4% unemployed. For UK labour market specialists concerned about the dominance of London, it is worth noting that 46% of Irish first degree graduates and 50% of taught postgraduates were working in or around Dublin 9 months after graduation, whilst those concerned about underemployment will be interested to find that nearly half of the 4% of Irish graduates unemployed at the point of survey had had a job at some point in the 9 months prior to the survey. There are a lot of findings in here that will have relevance to the UK and it gives food for thought ahead of our long-awaited data release on the 18th June.

Time is short and life is cruel but it’s up to us to change – UK graduate labour market news to 8th June

This is shorter than usual as I’ve been on leave. But let’s play in with The Jam.

Here’s the original version on Luminate – there are a couple more graphs in here.

  • The labour market seems to have hit bottom for now in March, but although things are better now the market has remained stable rather than continued to recover through May.
  • The graduate labour market has suffered significant damage, particularly in the arts – but things are far worse for non-graduates
  • Many SMEs are running short of cash and have no prospect of recruitment right now.
  • It is now very clear that there is a significantly greater interest in postgraduate study than usual – but many students are clear that they want a ‘traditional’ experience, not a virtual one.
  • The outlook for international student recruitment is very tough but some ideas are being discussed. Many of our key international competitors have their own issues
  • There are increasing concerns about the early years sector whose entire financial model is under considerable strain. This is an issue for new graduates from FE and HE and for parents returning to work
  • Many employers are yet to make firm decisions about recruitment for the rest of 2020. Some businesses have quietly shelved recruitment plans, but others are – equally quietly – making plans to recruit if the opportunity and business conditions allow.
  • Decisions made about recruitment and business strength this year will also affect next year’s recruitment round.
  • We’re getting increasingly concerned about the way the collapse in employment in retail and services might affect term-time jobs for students in the future and thus the ability for students from less advantaged backgrounds to support themselves at university
  • There are also worries about student deferral, not merely because of the reduced financing for 2020 that will follow, but also because of the likely much larger 2021 entry cohort (undergraduate and postgraduate, home and international) result, and the ability of institutions (who are likely to have much less resources available) to cope with that.

The Office of National Statistics have updated their economic impact analysis from last week (as covered here), which includes findings from the most recent data from the Business Impact of COVID-19 Survey (BICS). The usual Adzuna vacancy analysis reads much the same as last week’s – the raw data is here – with advert activity now at around 43% of the levels of last year and beginning to stabilise (that’s not ideal – we’d like to see it climb up a bit before it stabilises).

It represents a very modest improvement. The categories of catering and hospitality, and wholesale and retail have hovered in May at between 20% and 25% of their 2019 averages. In contrast, education is around 80% of its 2019 average. The volume of job adverts in health and social care saw little or no change from March to May.

The BICS data has some interesting nuggets – 31% of firms (60% in hospitality) have reduced staff working hours, and 36% (48% in construction) have laid off staff already. But 6% of firms – and 24% in health and social care – recruited in May. 42% of staff were working at home in May, but 47% in large businesses of over 250 employees and 84% in the IT industry. 

The Institute of Employment Studies IES) continue their own analysis of Adzuna data and have published analysis to 31st May – the ONS are running a few weeks behind.

Total vacancies reported were down again to 326,000, with the number of new vacancies seeing a slight fall.

IES Adzuna 310520

The IES report that at the start of lockdown, there were around two vacancies per 100 people of working age in most parts of England, and the ratio was slightly higher in London and the South East. The devolved nations and the North East of England, had one vacancy or less per 100 people of working age.

IES Adzuna 310520-2

At the end of May, there was still at least one vacancy per 100 people of working age in London, but the rest of the country now seems to have below 1 vacancy per 100 working age people and the north-east and the devolved nations seem to have less than 1 vacancy for every 200 working age people . On top of this there appears to be considerable variation within regions as well as between them.

Social work vacancies are the only occupation seeing job vacancies hold up since the crisis began. At the end of May there were about 32,000 social work vacancies – around 10% of all vacancies. Although healthcare and nursing vacancies have fallen since the beginning of the crisis, they continue to make up 1 in 5 available vacancies.  That means that although we still have job vacancies, at least 30% or so are only available to people with specific qualifications.

There were signs last week of a pick up amongst some job types, with sales and customer service roles seeing modest increases. The IES also report that in areas that have been particularly badly affected, the proportion of available vacancies that are being advertised as part time has gone up substantially.

PWC have updated their weekly analysis of economic impacts of COVID-19. 38% of consumers surveyed by PwC think that their financial position in the next 12 months will be worse than this year. A third of workers in the lowest decile of earners are employed in shutdown sectors, compared to 5% in the top decile and so the lowest earners are more likely to report a worsening of their personal circumstances. But 21% of consumers surveyed report an increase in their cash balances, and 36% of those intend to spend some or all of this extra cash, with home improvements and household furnishings top of the list of spending intentions. Ethical considerations have become more important as well. 34% of consumers surveyed said they would buy from brands or stores which look after their staff after lockdown, and 31% indicated they would buy from brands or stores which support the NHS and vulnerable people.

And Indeed have returned to the fray with another update of analysis from their own adverts. Indeed also have jobs ads significantly down – 61% down on this time last year (29th May) – and also note that the UK seems to be recovering more slowly than Australia and the US. Indeed find that although things seem to be slowing down a little in health and social care (except for nursing, which continues to see an increase in vacancies), sections of the property economy – real estate and cleaning & sanitation and customer service –  had started to see modest but welcome rises in vacancy numbers