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2021 Recruitment Predictions

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As 2020 comes to an end, we’re taking this time not only to reflect on the past year, but to look forward to what 2021 has in store for the recruitment industry.

Unlike most years, where we can usually make such predictions with ease, next year is certainly not the same. There are still so many unknown variables such as the result of the vaccine and the end of the furlough scheme but, here are four ways Wade Macdonald thinks the industry is going to look in 2021.

The end of 2020 has brought fantastic news of a vaccine which has given businesses the silver lining they desperately needed. Since this news, we have seen more companies begin to consider their hiring plans for the next quarter (and beyond).

However, business leaders and candidates are still cautious about the year to come as business confidence is still rocky. With the furlough scheme coming to an end in March of next year, and Government support beginning to wane, it is likely we will see another wave of redundancies, especially across those harder hit sectors such as retail. Therefore, until the economy truly begins to repair and recover, candidates are a lot less likely to feel comfortable about moving jobs, instead opting for the safety of their current role. However, it is our hope that as we head into Q3 and Q4, cracks will begin to heal, and the job market will become a lot more active.

Of course, while we look forward to a much more positive year next year, the industry isn’t expecting full recovery, and it is doubtful that it will see activity levels return to the same scale as pre-pandemic until perhaps 2022/2023. As we found in our recent Economic Report survey, this sentiment is shared by other business leaders; half are expecting full recovery to take at least two years, while 20 per cent are less optimistic, expecting it to take five years.

Hot jobs
There will be two specific areas that we are expecting high levels of recruitments drives in for next year: one being Tech, Data, Data Science and Data Analytics, the second being HR interim roles.

As a direct response to the pandemic, not only have companies been investing in and implementing a lot more technology into their working models, but they have also been heavily relying on data to guide them through this unknown time.

As remote working becomes a much more normal practice across a range of sectors, this will undoubtedly mean a sharp rise in the number of vacancies for in-house tech specialists who can ensure new equipment and processes run smoothly and efficiently.

Additionally, over the past nine months, the use of Data and Analytics has boomed. The pandemic has greatly accelerated the rate in which we have been building, implementing and using data to help businesses and their teams to navigate through this turbulent time. From managing supply chains and financial risks, finding new ways to innovate services for the ‘new normal’ as well as making informed business decisions, the implementation and use of Data has been, and will be for the foreseeable future, a crucial element of any successfully operating business. Therefore, we will certainly see an increased need for in-house Data and Analytics specialists.

HR will be the second area of interest in 2021, and this predominantly comes from the increase of working from home, remote working and virtual working. It is the consensus that a lot of companies have simply had to ‘wing it’ over the past nine months when it came to managing the ‘new normal’, especially as we flitted in and out of lockdowns and the tier systems were introduced. But undoubtedly more and more companies will implement flexible working into their daily models and therefore, more solid structures will need to be put in place in the form of policies to regulate these new models as well as keep employees safe.

To manage the huge workload that this will create, teams will be looking to hire in-house interim HR staff as soon as the new year arrives. Indeed, now is a good time to get ahead, before the January rush.

While currently still a bit of an unknown entity to many it is certainly a topic loaded with anxiety, especially with recent discussions around the potential of a no-deal Brexit. A no-deal Brexit would undoubtedly mean that the UK immediately becomes a much less attractive location for business, employment and trade which will then most certainly have an impact on investments, employment opportunities and the size of the available talent pool, especially across sectors such as healthcare and construction. Research suggests that over half of recruiters (58 per cent) are expecting an immediate and significant impact on talent if a no-deal situation were to come to fruition.

Additionally, UK businesses will then have the added strain of other short- and long-terms challenges that will need addressing such as the change with workers' rights, the impact the freedom of movement may have on current employees, invoicing for EU clients and a slowdown in trade.

However, no matter which way the pendulum ends up swinging, Brexit will undoubtedly have an effect on all industries, some worse than others, and it may create issues such as a drop once again in business confidence and shrinking talent pools. This will certainly be a topic to watch in the coming months.

Online is here to stay
Even as offices begin to reopen early next year, that won’t mean the end of the new online working practices we’ve witnessed over the past nine months. Most obviously is the shift to working from home models which will mean a continuation of the so-called ‘Zoom generation’ but, we will most certainly also see virtual interviews and virtual onboarding sticking around too.

For many, the online interview has been a godsend. Not only does it mean candidates can save money on travel, but clients are spending less time waiting for candidates to have time off work to attend interviews as they can be done at anytime from anywhere. However, we don’t believe the whole process will be completed online, there still must be an element of human interaction during the hiring process post-pandemic, chemistry and personal brand are important, neither of which can be fully sussed out over a screen. The last stage of interview is most likely to be done in person.

​2021 will hopefully be a much more positive year for the recruitment industry, our clients and our candidates. While not all the issues of 2020 have been completely ironed out, more silver linings continue to emerge daily and, as a nation, we are more united than ever to tackle any challenges that come our way.


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