A return of market confidence

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Certainty and confidence are coming back to the UK job market. The government’s roadmap to exiting lockdown has provided industries with the visibility they need to plan a recovery from the impact of COVID-19.

How quickly each market recovers depends on its individual circumstance. Take the retail and hospitality sectors as an example. These sectors are directly impacted by lockdown measures, with very little scope to continue business as usual or work remotely. Whilst the end of lockdown suggests a light at the end of the tunnel for these businesses, this tunnel will certainly be longer than sectors that have restricted their growth plans in 2020 purely due to uncertainty. Of course, there remains a degree of uncertainty surrounding the future impact of COVID-19, but businesses can at least now plan their recovery or even start to execute their paused growth plans. 

Not all markets have been impacted negatively this past year. Life Sciences, IT, Digital, and Logistics recruitment are just some of the sectors that have seen continued growth over the last 12 months. The job vacancy index showed that across Manufacturing, Construction, Transport & Logistics and Scientific & QA there were more vacancies in Feb 2021 versus last year, with Manufacturing job vacancies up 128%. As these areas continue to accelerate their growth, the war for talent will commence again; the businesses that plan ahead will be in a stronger position to take advantage of the current passive and active candidate pools.

As a group we’ve seen positive changes in the job market in these early months of 2021 first-hand:

  • Our perm job flow was up 8% in February compared to January
  • Temp job flow was up 4% in February compared to January
  • 36% of February’s temp job flow and 17% of perm has already been seen in the first four days of March
  • A 44% increase in candidate registration in February vs January
  • 22% of February’s candidate registrations already seen in first four days of March
  • A 64% increase in interview flow
  • 15% of February’s first interviews recorded already in first four days of March

Greg Hollis, COO of Recruitment Entrepreneur, commented, “The growing confidence is reflected in our candidate and job flow data in the last six weeks and we expect to see this continue now that we’ve got a pathway out of lockdown, coupled with the vaccination rollout success. Looking at these numbers, it’s important to consider our group’s international operations – whilst there is certainly a big impact from the UK, these statistics do reflect other regions.

“A final note is that we’ve also seen a significant increase in bid activity. This indicates that our group’s clients are revaluating their supply chain as we predicted and are now looking for broader solutions, not just transactional relationships. Overall, as we enter into Q2 we remain cautious but our confidence is certainly growing.”


So why is it a good time to start a business?

Last year in the middle of the pandemic we wrote an article, Why is a tough trading period a good time to start a businessThe truth is this: no matter when you start, the environment you start in can always be capitalised on. Launching a business in a pandemic teaches you to run a business with a lean operation and often drives founders to work harder at business development. In buoyant markets, businesses launch easily with strong client demand and may then struggle to react to downturns. Some of the strongest businesses in history started during tough trading periods, from Uber and Airbnb to Burger King.

The reality of starting a business in these times is that we are still in that lull of what some describe as the bust of a market. A downturn is always followed by an upturn; the speed of that upturn for a business depends on its market recovery characteristics, depth of networks with key stakeholders, and the team’s ambition to deliver a strong service. The CIPD reported that 56% of recruitment businesses are planning to grow their workforce over the coming months, the highest figure since pre-pandemic intentions of 66%.

Setting up a recruitment business doesn’t happen overnight. You have to build your brand, establish the infrastructure, and wait to pass restricted covenants before you can network the market again. If you dream of recruiting with your own name above the door, there’s no better time than now to capitalise on 2021’s market recovery.