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HR jobs plunge as temp demand rises

Professional vacancies for human resources specialists dropped by 38.1% year-on-year in 2020, while employers increasingly turned to the contingent workforce, according to new research from the APSCo. 

The data, provided by business intelligence specialist  Vacancysoft, revealed that the year-on-year reduction in HR vacancies was largely due to the UK’s first lockdown, which forced hiring levels down by 80.1% in April 2020 compared to the same month a year earlier. In comparison, the number of HR openings started to recover as the year progressed and by the fourth quarter of 2020, vacancies were 12% higher compared to the same period in 2019.

APSCo’s data also underlined how, while many employers put a hold on permanent hiring, others turned to the contingent workforce, with hiring for interim positions increasing from 13.2% in 2019 to 17.8% in 2020.

Ann Swain, CEO of APSCo, said increased demand for temporary staff indicated how employers had turned to agile and flexible hiring solutions in an uncertain market. “As we progress throughout 2021 and lockdown measures are eased, we expect to see the recruitment market for HR professionals continue on a positive trajectory,” she said.

REC: employer hiring confidence up
The APSCo analysis coincides with new data from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) which shows that employers’ confidence in their ability to hire new staff continued to improve in the three months to February 2021 on the back of the announcement of the government’s roadmap for easing lockdown. However, employers still believe economic conditions in the UK more broadly are getting worse.

Other key figures from the latest JobsOutlook, provacanciesduced by the REC with Savanta ComRes, include:

  • Employers’ intentions to hire staff in the medium term (over the coming 4-12 months) increased in December-February 2021, rising to net: +30 for permanent staff and net: +15 for agency workers.

  • There was heightened concern about shortages of construction workers this quarter, from both employers of permanent staff and agency workers, while demand remained high in the sector.

  • Two in five (40%) employers reported having reduced workers’ hours in the year to December-February 2021, up from just 12% in the previous 12 months.
  • Half of employers have never discussed how they could improve the diversity of candidates with a recruitment expert in the past two years.

Latest lockdown ‘less damaging than feared’
REC Chief Executive Neil Carberry said recruiters reported that the latest lockdown had been much less damaging than many feared back in January. “The relative health of the economy and the jobs market is now being reported by business surveys, official figures and our own data,” he said. “Hiring companies are confident about bringing people into their businesses now, and that has to be good news for all of us. There is still widespread pessimism about the wider economy, but that may be because respondents fear for sectors that have been shut down during lockdown. This caution is also reflected in employers leaning more on temporary work in uncertain times.”

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