The future job market in the UK has been shaped drastically by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Companies of all sizes have had to adapt in ways previously thought to be unimaginable. And workers have faced everything from redundancies to newer ways of working; namely hybrid and remote working.
Looking at the face value of everything, there is good news and bad news for the future job market.
The good news? Reports predict positive economic growth to resume in the UK in Q2 of 2022, which will lead to many new opportunities.
The bad news? Many sectors facing a labour shortage, remote working stripped, and ‘The Great Resignation’.
Here are our predictions for the future job market in the UK in 2022 and post-COVID.
Sectors Hit Hard By COVID Will Struggle To Recruit
UK employers are struggling with the worst labour shortage since 1997, with many sectors feeling the shortfall worse than others. The worst-hit sectors include hospitality, retail, farming, healthcare, and construction. It is expected that this will continue into 2022.
The effects of COVID-19 on the UK economy has created an uncertain and unstable job market. Unfortunately, this is deterring workers from applying for work in the worst-hit sectors. Despite some recovery and the government’s plan to prevent another winter lockdown (COVID-19 winter plan), many workers are still reluctant to apply for work in these sectors. The two main reasons stem down to concerns with COVID-19 exposure, and redundancies or reduced hours triggered by another lockdown. Coupled with the uncertainty of when the pandemic will end, it is expected that recruitment numbers will remain low in these hard-hit sectors into the latter half of 2022.
What has not helped is the effects of Brexit, which has had a significant impact on the labour shortage. With the new immigration restrictions and processes in place, smaller numbers of immigrants are entering the UK. As a result, sectors that are more reliant on European workers are experiencing reduced applications and short-staffed workforces. In addition, transportation has been hit hard by Brexit, leaving many companies in various sectors with reduced supplies, including hospitality, healthcare, and construction. Whilst the government are encouraging UK employers to make jobs more attractive (career progression, increased wages, etc), this is not possible for organisations with reduced budgets and razor-thin profit margins. Until the UK government offer organisations help, or revise current immigration laws, it is expected that the worst-hit sectors will struggle to hire workers in 2022.
Workers Expected To Resign (The Great Resignation)
Informally known as ‘The Great Resignation’, press and industry bodies alike have predicted waves of resignations in 2022 and post-COVID. This is already happening, with millions handing in their notice within the last few months, but numbers are expected to grow.
Many UK workers have cited their reasons as:
Not Wanting To End Remote Working Lifestyle
Remote working roles became commonplace shortly after the pandemic started, and many workers welcomed the flexible working pattern and no commuting. For most, there is no going back. However, as lockdown restrictions eased earlier this year, many employers began withdrawing remote working and asked all employees to work from their office. This sudden change led to many workers resigning from their roles to look for remote, flexible work. If employers do not stick to their original agreement with new employees, then they can expect higher turnover numbers in 2022 and beyond.
Wages Not Up To Expectations
Redundancies caused by the pandemic forced some workers to take on a job with a lower salary. It is expected that towards the end of the pandemic, these workers will seek work that matches their pre-pandemic salary expectations.
Companies That Are Still Adjusting To The Pandemic Are Isolating New Staff
The pandemic has prompted UK employers to explore other areas of their business, including digitisation, new products/services, previously unexplored markets, and a remote working IT infrastructure. However, in the digital age, no company has endured a pandemic like this. As a result, many companies are finding themselves experimenting and trialling numerous different things to survive and hit targets. This is having a knock-on effect with new employees, who are finding their duties change as the company changes. This is leading to frustrated and confused workers, who are expected to seek alternative employment with better-defined duties next year and post-COVID.
Number Of Remote Workers Will Increase
In April this year, more employers reported increased productivity benefits from homeworking compared to last summer. Coupled with an increased demand for remote working and hybrid working, it is likely the number of UK remote workers will increase. This is not only expected in 2022, but post-pandemic and beyond.
The pandemic has proved that remote working is not impossible as previously believed. What’s more, employers are being urged to implement remote or hybrid working permanently and not as a temporary solution. Employers not considering this are likely to see a reduced number of applications from top talent and increased staff turnover post-COVID.
Digitisation Of Right To Work Checks
The return of physical right to work checks is expected to return on 5th April 2022. However, with the current lobbying and campaigning from authorising bodies and UK employers, it is expected that right to work checks will be digitised in 2022. Whilst there is an online checking system for EU nationals, this is not the case for British citizens; hence the call for the acceptance of digital right to work checks. In addition, digitising this process has proved to be safer, robust, and more versatile than physical checks. It is advised that employers prepare for RTW digitisation and source robust background check software.
The Future Job Market – Takeaway
It is evident that organisations must embrace digitisation and a remote/hybrid working culture in order to attract and retain their workforce. This will not be easy (or even possible) for sectors where remote working is not possible. However, with an emphasis on safety and a strategy to retain staff where possible, these hard-hit sectors will be able to survive post-pandemic.
The Great Resignation is happening now and expected to continue long-term. However, if employers act now, and assess current job market trends (e.g., remote working) they can prevent increased staff turnover numbers.
Some companies are already looking towards the future and offering remote roles. As a result, many job websites are seeing a huge increase in remote vacancies advertised on their platforms (Jooble recently reported a 20x increase).
In conclusion, we are not out of the woods yet. But with the right approach in place, the future job market could be one that benefits workers and organisations alike.