As expected, the most recent KPMG/REC Jobs Outlook Report continues to showcase a difficult time for the jobs market in the wake of Covid-19 implications. However, as I’ve said over the last few weeks at various events I’ve been asked to speak at, it’s important to temper this with an air of optimism that things are, at the very least, stabilising.

Indeed, look closely at the data in conjunction with the REC’s Job Recovery Tracker and it’s possible to see chinks of hope on the horizon (I’ll be posting a separate blog on this later this week).

Key findings

There are three key findings highlighted in the report:

  • A softer (but still steep) fall in permanent placements and temporary roles
  • The quickest rise in staff supply since the start of 2009
  • A surge in candidate availability

Taken in conjunction with the regional report covering the North of England, the region generally matches the overall picture for the whole of the UK. However, we will reveal where there are some differences or outlying data concerning the North.

Falls in permanent and temp placements

June saw more falls in both permanent placements and temporary roles, with the North experiencing the second worst fall nationally. However, these falls are markedly softer than in the preceding months.

Staff supply

For the third month in a row, there were more candidates available across the country with the North seeing the highest rise in candidate availability. Anecdotally, this is believed to be due to the amount of redundancies in the area.

The availability of workers has risen at the fastest rate since January 2009. Temp staff numbers have also risen at the fastest rates since these reports began.

This should be understood in the context of vacancies however, with the North also reporting a good number of vacancies, including skills shortages in industries such as engineering, which indeed is the second most sought after grouping of jobs after healthcare.

Nonetheless, starting salaries in the North are falling more than elsewhere.

Hope on the horizon

Taken in isolation, the reports can seem bleak. But it’s vital to recognise the word “softer” dropped into the report with regularity!

Yes, there are still declines in recruitment activity but they are notably less sharp than in the previous few months, signalling that we could be at the turning point.

As Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of REC says: “…there are signs that the worst declines are behind us…”

In terms of the North’s data, it is likely just a matter of timing in terms of each region experiencing the worst impact of Covid-19 and the North is ahead, along with London.

Of course, uncertainty will linger, but confidence is building and that gives hope too. Unlike in most Report on Jobs releases, the REC has added an entire section to the latest report putting the data into context.

Most notably is the data they have included regarding business confidence.

Business confidence

Whilst business confidence is still down, it’s important to understand that this is rapidly improving. Between May and early June there was an improvement of 17%.

Alongside this, employer hiring intentions are improving, showing that employers are starting to feel confident again.

The data in this report shows the situation at the point at which the impact of the lock-down was most severe.

But as the report suggests, there are clear signs that we are moving towards “stabilisation” and the beginnings of light at the end of the tunnel.

As I mentioned this morning, today will see the release of the Chancellor’s summer economic statement which is planned to shed further light on how to boost confidence in the jobs market going forwards.

I’m hoping the statement will genuinely be a welcome one as the jobs market has to be a key focus over the coming months.