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Almost at the end of a year to forget…

Almost at the end of a year to forget…

Posted on 11th December 2020

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The November Markit figures dropped into my inbox this morning.  As the graphs below for the UK as a whole show (all sectors), this Markit Nov 20 1has been an extraordinary year for recruitment in particular and the economy in general. The depth of the fall in what we (now laughingly) called the Great Recession of 2009-10 was as of nothing compared to the off-the-cliff event that was coronavirus pandemic.  And while the V-shape of recovering may look impressive, on closer examination, the crucial perm market is still not significantly above the 50 mark that signifies growth (indeed, it is has gone backwards since October).

Moreover, although the contractor market has rebounded and is now showing growth, the combined index for the country as a whole is still below 50 (it’s 47).  In other words, we are not out of the woods yet, albeit with the beginning of the roll-out of the vaccine(s) we can see light at the end of the tunnel. Some job-boards are reporting an increase in job ads and when you drill down into individual sectors the picture is very variable, as our tables (all data taken from Markit) below show.

Here, I’m glad to say, our industry is, after taking some time to get up steam, now forging ahead, with positive growth in both the temp and perm markets.

Markit Nov 2020

This mirrors what we’re seeing on the ground at Be-IT.  We now have far more vacancies from clients than at any time in the previous eight months, with a pipeline of expectation stretching into the new year.  That said, finding quality candidates is, in many instances, no easier than it was pre-pandemic. Although Markit reports that candidate availability across the economy as a whole has risen, this, sadly, is a reflection of the rising tide of redundancies.  But in IT/digital, as I’ve noted previously, employers are doing all they can to retain their good staff, while the move to increased use of contractors has continued apace (witness the growth from October to November in the table above).  Of course, we have the joys of IR35 to come soon, but in the meantime, it makes sense for a lot of employers to keep their costs down by using temps in the short-term rather than burden their businesses with all the associated costs of full-time employees. 

On top of this, we have Brexit, currently (at time of writing) not so much on a knife’s edge as sliding down a razor blade of uncertainty (hopefully resolved by the time you are reading this).  I am pretty sure that most savvy businesses have already factored in the impact of various Brexit scenarios, but one that has still to play out is the impact on international recruitment.  I suspect that the new, worldwide level playing field might be to our advantage and we will be able to attract some previously undiscovered talent from across the globe to our shores, but equally it’s also possible that the most astute recruiters will be seeking overseas professionals who will work from home, based in their own countries, thus widening the potential talent pool available while reducing some of the associated costs.

One thing is certain.  During this annus horribilis, the pandemic has accelerated change in all sorts of industries. Recruitment is not immune from change, but how we manage an increasingly rapidly transition over the next few years, taking advantage of AI and associated technologies while still maintaining appropriate DP safeguards, will be one of our major challenges.  It’s one we’re up for at Be-IT.

Gareth Biggerstaff, CEO, Be-IT

Posted in Markit Survey, Opinion

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