itecopeople blog
Posted on August 31, 2021  in General
18 months on - how have the employment market and technology changed? And what changes might we see going forward?

There’s no doubt that COVID has changed the way we work and, as a result, the employment market itself. Over the past 18 months, we’ve seen job adverts at their lowest this millennium, only to rise in July 2021 to over a million for the first time ever, according to data reported by the BBC. But how did we get to this point? How has the job market changed and evolved since the beginning of the pandemic in the UK?

 

The changing UK job market

Despite 18 months sounding like a long time, the beginning of the pandemic in the UK still lives fresh in the memory for most, if not all of us, and many will remember the nose-dive the employment market took in March 2020. This saw the arrival of the furlough scheme, a government initiative to try and help employers to keep themselves in business and their employees in jobs.

Despite this, redundancies were inevitable. In particular, IT jobs in the sectors that couldn’t transfer to remote working, such as hospitality, took the biggest hit. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that in figures reported by the BBC, these are the industries with some of the highest job advertisements and increases in employees on the payroll since lockdown restrictions have eased. This is also reflected in the rise in job advertisements in holiday destinations, such as Cornwall and Wales, in comparison to the city.

The reduction in the growth of city-based job adverts is debatably reflective of how a switch to remote, and now hybrid, working has changed employment and the employment market. Job advertisements and applications, if they weren’t already, are nearly always completed online, with job interviews increasingly conducted on video call platforms. These new technologies and methods of working that have developed over the past 18 months, however, have also brought convenience for employers, so it seems unlikely that we will return to face-to-face interviews, at least in the initial stages of the employment process.

 

But what about the IT sector?

As we discussed in a previous blog, the switch to new technologies and remote working has put a lot of pressure on employees who work in IT. This reflects a wider nation and industry-wide skills shortage and the discrepancy between employers and employees that have developed in the UK employment market since the beginning of the pandemic.

As the BBC reports, employers who are looking for individuals with certain, very particular skillsets, such as photography, broadcasting, and IT, all of which have seen sharp rises in job advertisements, are finding it harder to attract, employ, and retain their workforce. But people with these skillsets are benefitting from this and have seen their value in the workplace and income rise as a result, a trend also identified in the IT market. As a result, Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG UK notes that there has been “an unusually high level of mismatch in the UK’s labour market”, with certain jobs much more in demand than others. To find out more on the IT employment market, read our blog on The UK Employment Market.

 

How has technology changed since lockdown?

It’s arguable that the technology industry has seen the biggest transformation of any since the beginning of lockdown. In fact, statistics from The Drum show that UK consumers bought a record 19.2 million devices in the year to July 2021, with wearable technology, in particular, benefiting from changes in working patterns. New and developing technologies, such as Cloud databases and video calls platforms such as Zoom and Teams have also become increasingly popular since 2020 and look set to continue their growth throughout 2021. People’s disregard for previously popular platforms, such as Skype, however, shows how rapidly the technology sector develops and is something that IT employees will have to keep up with.

 

What can we expect to see in the coming years?

Despite the exponential growth in demand for technology, as The Drum reports, we can probably expect to see a reduction in the number of devices purchased in the coming year. Companies used 2020 as a trial run to establish what technologies and systems they need and should now have the appropriate devices in place. This, however, will mean no let-up for IT employees, who will need to keep on top of changing trends and new working patterns to accommodate to those who want to work in the office, purely remotely, or a mixture of the two.

As for the job market, that’s always difficult to predict, but the outcome doesn’t look as bleak as some had suggested despite the furlough scheme ending in September. In fact, Jonathan Athow, deputy statistician for the Office of National Statistics, states that there was “no sign of redundancies starting to pick up” according to their data on UK employment. All of this sounds promising for the job market, but, as we discussed above, whether this will itself become an issue due to the shortage of skilled workers, we will have to wait and see.

How do you think the job market and technology will change over the coming months? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to get in contact with a member of our team to discuss what you expect post-lockdown life to look like.

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