Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

UK braces for toughest jobs market in a generation

The UK is facing the toughest jobs market in a generation as Covid-19 is forcing businesses to cut jobs and slow hiring in most areas, leaving people with fewer options, according to Microsoft and LinkedIn. With stiff competition for jobs, reskilling will be crucial to helping people find opportunities.

  • Large-scale reskilling needed: Microsoft and LinkedIn to help people improve job prospects through free reskilling
  • LinkedIn finds UK jobs are 3x more competitive due to Covid-19
  • Workers in sectors hardest hit are being pushed to find jobs in other industries
  • 2.8 million people claiming unemployment benefit according to ONS

The UK is facing the toughest jobs market in a generation as Covid-19 is forcing businesses to cut jobs and slow hiring in most areas, leaving people with fewer options, according to Microsoft and LinkedIn. With stiff competition for jobs, reskilling will be crucial to helping people find opportunities. 

New data from LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, finds that job applications are already three times higher compared to this time last year. People working in the sectors hardest hit by Covid-19 are looking to other industries to find work. The share of job applications in Recreation & Travel, Media & Communications and Real Estate from people working in these industries are down 53%, 43% and 35% respectively compared to last year, due to fewer open roles in these sectors and comparatively more available in other industries. 

New analysis of LinkedIn data also finds that workers in Europe need to acquire new skills if they are going to move into jobs of the future and have better prospects and stability. Workers in declining occupations cannot rely solely on their existing skills in the current jobs market.

Helping the UK workforce reskill

To help people impacted by Covid-19 find new jobs, Microsoft and LinkedIn are giving 25 million people the opportunity to reskill by offering free access to learning resources and interview tools. 

LinkedIn analysed data from its 690+ million members to identify 10 jobs that are in-demand in today’s economy. These roles have the highest number of openings, pay a good wage, offer long-term stability, and can be learned online. 

The 10 roles and LinkedIn Learning courses to learn the relevant skills are:

The 500+ LinkedIn Learning courses are free until March 2021 and include 950+ hours of learning content. Microsoft Learn is offering free access to 225+ learning paths and 1,000+ modules of technical skilling. Furthermore, GitHub Learning Lab is continuing to provide free access to hundreds of demonstration-based modules to teach technology, coding, Git and GitHub.  

Josh Graff, UK Country Manager at LinkedIn, said: “Covid-19 has drastically changed the dynamics of the UK jobs market, making it much harder to land a job. People working in the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic are already looking at changing industries to find new opportunities, but there’s huge competition for roles. Gaining new skills, particularly digital skills, is essential to helping people improve their employability and that’s why we hope these free resources will help anyone facing challenging circumstances reskill for some of today’s most in-demand roles in the digital economy.”

Hugh Milward, Senior Director of Corporate, External and Legal Affairs at Microsoft, said: “The shock of unemployment as a result of Covid-19 is now a real fear for many in the UK. But at the same time, the economy has embraced digital during this crisis like no time before it.  Reskilling is essential if people are to take advantage of these changes and thrive. Whilst there may be difficult times ahead, we also estimate there will be close to 3 million new technology jobs in the UK by 2025. Microsoft and LinkedIn are committed to equipping UK job seekers and workers with the resources and tools needed to access the most in-demand digital jobs that provide stability, long-term prospects and to ensure an inclusive and accelerated economic recovery.” 

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said: Re-skilling and re-training are key parts of our Covid recovery programme and digital skills will form a crucial part of that. That is why I welcome this project announced today by Microsoft. It’s a fantastic initiative and demonstrates how we can all play a part in contributing to our recovery and driving growth for the future.”

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “Online learning has long been an important way of helping individuals reskill. Now more than ever, it offers people the chance to improve their long-term career prospects. These courses can equip job-seekers and employees with the digital and data skills needed to drive a UK-wide economic recovery and keep businesses at the forefront of technology. 

“Alongside the focus on digital and data, firms will be glad to see modules which help build soft skills like resilience, emotional intelligence and communication. Knowledge, capabilities, and character are equally valued by firms as all are essential for the world of work.”

Sir Peter Estlin, Chair, FutureDotNow, said: “I am pleased with Microsoft’s commitment to upskilling the UK workforce. We know that 17.2 million people in the UK currently don’t have the basic digital skills to support them both at home and at work, and the current crisis has highlighted the need to bridge this gap in digital upskilling. At FutureDotNow, through our coalition of members, we aim to help create a workforce that is fully able to benefit from our digital future. Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction and I urge everyone to please take advantage of the fantastic array of skills and support on offer from Microsoft and LinkedIn.”

LinkedIn is also making available for free the following soft skill learning courses: 

LinkedIn is also providing free tools to help people with their job search. Job seekers can indicate to employers and their LinkedIn network that they are ‘Open To Work’ through a simple profile photo frame update. They can also access free interview preparation tools.  

All learning resources are available at

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

About LinkedIn 

LinkedIn connects the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful and transforms the way companies hire, learn, market, and sell. Our vision is to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce through the ongoing development of the world’s first Economic Graph. LinkedIn has more than 690+ million members and has offices around the globe.

LinkedIn Learning is a leading online learning platform that helps professionals learn relevant skills and achieve their goals. It combines a library of 16,000+ up-to-date courses in 7 different languages with an engaging, intuitive, and personalised learner experience. LinkedIn Learning also includes real-time skills insights that help learning leaders identify skills gaps. For more information, visit