itecopeople blog
Posted on October 21, 2021  in General
As the furlough scheme ends, how has the job market changed since the UK’s first lockdown?

And what changes might we expect to see over the coming months?


For many employers and employees, the Government’s furlough scheme provided safety and security during the uncertainty of the pandemic. According to figures published by the BBC, the furlough scheme has supported approximately 11.6 million workers since March 2020, with around 1.6 million still receiving support at the end of July this year. But how has the job market changed since the introduction of Covid measures? And will there be radical changes in the job market now that the furlough scheme has ended?


How furlough impacted employment in 2020

The beginning of lockdown measures saw many people working from home. But the furlough scheme provided a lifeline for those who couldn’t, such as workers in the travel, hospitality, or events sectors. As discussed by the BBC for some, this was the catalyst to begin new jobs, as more people shopped locally or independently. But, for many others, it was a wait for restrictions to ease before they could go back to the workplace. As a result, vacancies were low, which especially affected younger employees. Interestingly, however, in figures published by Yahoo, the over 65s are the demographic who are most likely to be on the furlough scheme now, which is just one of the major changes to the employment sector that we’ve seen since March last year.


Furlough’s impact on recruitment

Furlough has also dramatically changed the nature of the job market. As we stated above, at the beginning of lockdown very few companies were hiring, making it difficult for those who had lost their jobs to find alternate work. Fast forward 19 months, there are now a record number of vacancies.

The high number of vacancies we see now may be a result of the furlough scheme ending, as employees wait to see if their employers would like them to return to their pre-pandemic work. An alternate view could be that employees are seeking more “secure” employment in industries that were less affected by the pandemic, as opposed to the hospitality and events sector, which saw major disruptions to their operations and are now struggling to recruit.

There have also been lots of discussions about the difficulties recruiting skilled workers such as HGV drivers. As Andy Steele, Director of 360 Chartered Accountants, writing in Bdaily observes, many industries with employee shortages require lengthy training. And much of the training is now completed using technology which indicates the task IT staff have post-furlough.


The effect on IT

Much of the training for new employees is now conducted online. It’s therefore up to IT departments to deliver the training resources required for new staff, from online courses and exams to training videos and virtual reality, IT staff face the additional challenges of ensuring technology is up to date, reliable, and accessible.

Furthermore, as we discussed in September, technology has rapidly developed and innovated since the beginning of lockdown, and this has changed how many businesses operate. With around 1 million people returning to their previous jobs or finding new employment, there will be a lot of work involved to train returning employees and get them up to speed with new office-based technology or technology required for remote or hybrid working.


The post-furlough future

Whilst it’s too early to tell what impact the end of the furlough scheme will have on business and recruitment, we can make some predictions based on the trends we have already observed.

There will be several companies who will be looking to keep costs down, which will, unfortunately, result in redundancies, as well as many individuals looking for a change in career. Some industries, such as travel and hospitality, both of which have passed their peak season for this year, aren’t ready for furlough to end, so we may expect additional redundancies in this sector.

However, there is still a high number of vacancies. Therefore, whilst redundancies are likely to rise, we may hopefully also see a rise in employment.


How will the end of the furlough scheme affect you and your business? We’d really like to hear any thoughts you have on the topic.

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