Job Report reveals new demand for remote working

Online recruitment platform, NIJobs.com believes that 2021 could mark a significant shift regarding the traditional office space, encouraging employers to become more innovative and flexible.

By Claire Cartmill
Monday, 1st February 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 1st February 2021, 11:25 am
NIjobs.com is also predicting that the office will never return in its previous form
NIjobs.com is also predicting that the office will never return in its previous form

Leading online recruitment platform, NIJobs.com believes that 2021 could mark a significant shift regarding the traditional office space, encouraging employers to become more innovative and flexible.

Their latest ‘Job Report ‘with Ulster Bank indicates a change in market demand with jobseekers. Searches for work from home roles more than doubled (140%) from Jan-Dec 2020.

Q4 2020 job listings on the site, which are viewed as a leading indicator of the labour market performance, more than doubled relative to the Q2 lockdown low. Job applications on the site increased by 30% in the second half of 2020 (H2 2020 vs H2 2019). Job postings are down 10% YoY but despite this, the data demonstrates that the local job market has regained over 80% of the decline in listings following the start of the pandemic.

Hospitality and Tourism sectors remain Covid-19 casualties whilst Nursing, Healthcare and Medical takes prime spot as the top performing category. NIJobs.com has been working alongside the HSCNI (Health and Social Care) by listing a number of roles, which is contributing to a significant increase in roles in the sector.

The true impact and real cost of Covid-19 on the recruitment market will become more evident next quarter (Q2) when some UK government supported initiatives come to an end including the Furlough Scheme. This will produce a range of challenges and opportunities as Northern Ireland moves towards a post-pandemic recovery.

Sam McIlveen, General Manger at NIJobs.com explained: “The introduction of vaccinations has brought hope for the local economy, but social distancing and other measures are likely to remain in place for a considerable period of time. The office environment is unlikely to return as we know it with some now viewing it as redundant.

“Our data reveals that there is a clear demand for long-term remote working but only certain industries can currently accommodate these types of roles. Currently only a few sectors offer complete remote working so there is the prospect for growth for these types of roles in various sectors.

“We predict that the post pandemic office will still have a role to play in terms of collaboration, but employers need be innovative and provide blended working patterns- a mixture of home and office- for everyone.”

Supporting this trend further, The Irish Government has pledged that remote working will be permanent for businesses post Covid-19 in their new ‘National Remote Work Strategy’. This will legally entitle employees to select home working. Plans will also include the right to disconnect from work, including phone calls, emails, and switch-off time. Several global brands too, are reviewing the future office. Unilever has announced that its employees will never return to a desk five days a week- the company is currently trialling a four-day week with staff in New Zealand.

If employers can strike the right work and home life balance whilst boosting productivity and performance, there are opportunities for according to Sam.

“As the economy begins to open up again a blended approach will offer a range of opportunities and challenges. Workers in NI can already request flexible working from their employer but companies must be prepared for more work from home requests than ever before. We can see the demand for this type of opportunity in our data and talent will seek out companies who meet this need. That being said, companies need to also consider employee engagement so people can continue to feel connected, as well as invest and develop employees remotely to attract a skilled workforce.

“When furlough ends, there is likely to be an increase in the unemployment rate too so it’s important for every business to look how they can sustain employment, look at business growth opportunities, productivity and improve staff wellbeing in this new world.”

The ‘NIJobs.com Job Report ‘with Ulster Bank, offers respected insight into the recruitment trends, economic environment and the types of roles jobseekers are searching for online.

Richard Ramsey, Ulster Bank’s Chief Economist added: “The Labour market is a lagging indicator of activity and more so during this recession due to the unprecedented levels of employment support. Unemployment has remained relatively low and the degree of job losses has not been what it otherwise would have been. Nevertheless, redundancies have still been coming in thick and fast with the number of proposed redundancies hitting a record high for 2020.

“Those employment categories most affected by lockdown restrictions are experiencing very subdued levels of demand. The beleaguered hospitality sector is a case in point. Back in Q3 & Q4 2019, the Hospitality sector had the most job listings of the 31 employment categories and accounted for almost 1 in 9 of all online vacancies.  But 2020’s lockdown saw demand for hospitality jobs slump and in Q4 listings were down 88% y/y. Hospitality has fallen from being the top ranked category to 20th in the space of a year.

“Meanwhile at the other end of the spectrum the Nursing, Healthcare & Medical category remains the top employment category accounting for more than 1 in 6 of all vacancies. Demand for Nursing, Healthcare & Medical roles have increased by 47% q/q and by 84% y/y.

“Positions within Education, Childcare & Training have soared to a new high having risen by 46% q/q and more than doubling over the last year. Roles within this category now account for 10% of all employment positions advertised in Q4.

“Given Covid-19 and Brexit challenges, General Management and Consulting roles hit a record high in Q4 surging by 187% q/q in Q4 and 73% y/y. Other sectors that recorded the largest rebounds in demand in Q4 2020 included Secretarial & Admin (+182% q/q); Science, Agriculture, Pharmaceutical & Food (+112% q/q) and Banking, Financial services & Insurance (+78% q/q).  IT is traditionally one of the biggest employment categories. While Q4 saw a 48% q/q rise in advertised positions in this category, vacancy levels are still less than half what they were a year ago.

“Overall, 2021 is expected to see more activity return to the recruitment market.  A quick and efficient rollout of the vaccine, and ultimately a lifting of lockdown restrictions, will be the main factor determining economic growth in the year ahead.”

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