Monday 16 November 2020 5:00 am

Restrictions confusion and lockdown fears stunt white collar job openings

Regional tiered restrictions confusion and rumours of a national lockdown stalled white collar hiring in October, with contract vacancies dropping -1%, according to the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).

The latest data found that while month-on-month vacancy numbers saw little to no change, the year-on-year percentage drop slightly increased for October following several months of improvement in annual comparisons. 

In September, the year-on-year drop in vacancy numbers stood at -33% for permanent and -15% for contract. For October, it stood at -38% and -22% respectively.

According to APSCo, much of this drop in job vacancies can be attributed to the confusion surrounding the tiered lockdown system and rumours of increased restrictions on a regional and national basis throughout October, in response to an increase in coronavirus deaths and cases. 

Source: APSCo

Lockdown impact

The daily tracking data also indicated that rumours of a national lockdown had an impact on hiring in the UK.  

Contract vacancies saw a small drop of 3% at the end of month when compared to the beginning, while permanent jobs dipped by 0.5% in the last two weeks. Interview numbers were fairly flat with similar levels across the month, which APSCo said is indicative of the uncertainty created by the increasing introduction of the tier system around the country and the original end-date of the furlough scheme nearing. 

APSCo CEO Ann Swain said: “It’s disappointing to see the progress the UK had made in closing the annual percentage drop in hiring activity stall in October, though it’s perhaps unsurprising given the continued uncertainty as we moved towards another national lockdown.” 

The CEO said she did not expect hiring to be impacted during the current national lockdown as it was at the height of the pandemic, as many businesses have the set up in place to support remove recruitment.

“And with news of a potential vaccine breaking this month, November could potentially be a turning point for the UK’s business confidence,” she added.