Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Data insight: Who’s hiring and top trends in the UK job market amid Covid-19?

John Bolton, Marketing Executive, Recruitment

We teamed up with Alex Fourlis, Managing Director of Broadbean Technology, to share insightful data on the current status of the employment market due to the effects of Covid-19.

Here’s our key takeaways from the recent webinar. You can also watch it now on demand for all the relevant data, charts and detailed analysis for each topic.

Alex gave us a fascinating insight into the data-driven world of Broadbean, which allows them to make evidenced predictions and ground-breaking analysis into where the jobs are right now. We’re sure everyone has a multitude of questions about the employment market – and Alex answered the following:

  • What is the state of the global market?
  • What are the key trends in the UK employment market?
  • Who is hiring in the UK right now?
  • What should recruitment companies do next?
  • Why is Broadbean in a good position to talk about employment data?

What is the state of the global market?

On a global level, China was a precursor both in terms of the healthcare market and the job market. China’s market fell by almost a third when they went into lockdown on 3rd February 2020. This was to be expected, as around Chinese New Year there is often little activity in the job market. However, since this time the number of jobs being posted in China have not risen back to the levels they were at in December 2019. The main drop for UK in the job market was from 16th March 2020, and we can see the rate of decline compared to other countries based on the number of jobs posted the week of March 22nd vs. March 8th 2020.

Right now, in the UK we are seeing about a third of the usual hiring and job posting activity we would see on a normal week, prior to the impact of Covid-19. In fact, at the moment England is closer to -60% than the -42% figure shown in the chart above. The same can be said for US, which is closer to -80%, and across the world any country with a strong recruitment market, such as France, Netherlands and Germany, we can see significant declines in the amount of hiring activity.

What are the key trends in the UK employment market?

The UK labour market is in a period of “deep freeze”. What this means is that we are now seeing even less activity than in the Christmas week, which is a period renowned for its decreased number of vacancies, as can be seen in the following chart where the dip began prior to the lockdown at the start of March.

All industries have been impacted… even industries that you would expect to do a little better in the current circumstances, such as Police, Fire Department and Security roles as well as Healthcare. Meanwhile, as expected, roles in Hospitality and Leisure, Sports and Tourism have been massively affected. For a full list of the percentage decrease in job postings for industries, based on the last two weeks average job posting the previous 6 weeks, see the webinar at 10:29.

When looking at the types of roles that are declining the most - when comparing the percentage of job posting increase from 1st week in April to 1st week in March - generic, office-based administrative roles have shown huge declines, while there have been increases to functional roles such as cleaners, healthcare assistants etc.

Interestingly, the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) could well have contributed to an unprecedented, sharp decrease on the amount of applications per vacancy. While we knew that vacancy volumes would show a steep decline, the amount of applications have gone down even more. This demonstrates the period of deep freeze for the recruitment market – people are not going out to get new jobs at the moment as they are on the CJRS. However, as people begin to think more about their long-term future, we anticipate that this will change and show a sharp increase in the number of applications.

So… who is hiring in the UK right now?

It may not surprise you to learn that the top three employers hiring right now, in the UK, are in the healthcare industry (Barchester Healthcare, Newcross Healthcare and the NHS). Equally, out of the top job roles available, they are primarily ones to help deal with the effects of Covid-19 such as Support Workers, Nurses, Schoolteachers and Cleaners. Without further ado, here are the main companies that are hiring, as well as the top 20 job roles available in the UK.


What should recruitment companies do next?

Evidently this a pretty gloomy insight into the past, present and future of the recruitment market during Covid-19. So, when can we expect a rebound?

China were the first to be affected by Covid-19, but for three months since the decline they have not shown signs of hiring pickup, despite having now reopened factories, shops, bars, restaurants etc. It can therefore be expected that, for at least 3 months, the UK’s hiring activity will also not show signs of picking up.

Broadbean advise recruitment companies that if they take anything away from the webinar, it’s to focus on the following three areas:


Make sure to focus on the areas of activity and opportunities available to you. Track your clients and competitors' activity closely, and understand that speed is of the essence as we expect the median number of job postings will come down dramatically. Alex learned from the previous job crisis in Greece that the median life of a job posting could decline from the usual average of 25 days to as little as 7 or 8 days!


Your business needs to be able to deliver lightning fast results at a lower cost. Alex advises that anything you do to improve the way you sort and manage your funnel of candidates must be visited, and automation is an absolute must. Manual processes will slow your business down, so you should consider using programmatic advertising to attract audiences and applications, as well as an automated background screening process. Integrate your tools where possible, as you will almost certainly see efficiency and productivity gains by doing so.

Use data

If you have more time, look at your data and figure out how you can clean it. Use a parser, if you don’t already, to understand the details of your CVs and jobs. Make sure to make data driven decisions throughout this time, and use your existing data to provide client insights while constantly reviewing and adjusting these insights. You cannot depend on historic government data – it’s already outdated.

Why is Broadbean in a good position to talk about employment data?

As Broadbean works with over 50% of the top 250 UK recruitment agencies and is essentially the “air traffic control” of the job market in the UK. Here’s a few more stats:

Data was also taken from Textkernel - one of the first companies to use AI and Machine learning in the UK recruitment market.

Alex Fourlis has plenty of relevant experience with jobs crises having run the biggest job board in Greece on behalf of CareerBuilder when Greek unemployment rates exceeded 25% in 2012 to 2015. His message during this time of uncertainty:

“Even during that time, we actually ended up doing well as even at the depth of the crisis there were always jobs.  I have a picture in my office which is a contract we signed on the day the banks closed in Greece. Don’t despair… there is always an upward trend that will follow this steep decline we have seen in the last few weeks”

When Broadbean began looking at the data last month, it didn’t look great as the major KPIs of the activity in the market were declining exponentially. However, amidst the whirlwind of declining charts, one data analyst found a graph that was going up explosively, which was the number of jobs that mention Covid-19 or Coronavirus in the description.

Comparing types of roles in the frontline in terms of volume of posting, Alex compared the percentage increase of postings from the first week in April to the first week in March. There’s nothing you wouldn’t expect given the circumstances: Out of the top 5 roles being posted, Nurses and Warehouse Employees are still showing declines, while Support Workers and Cleaners are not so much showing an increase, but “less of a decline”.

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