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UK graduate labour market update: 23 February

February 2021

Charlie Ball's latest summary of data, research and reports on the labour market includes a look at the future of work over the next decade, and an analysis of outcomes for graduates with disabilities

Welcome to the latest instalment of our round-up of the week's developments in the UK graduate labour market, brought to you by Prospects Luminate at Jisc.

The latest round of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) fast response experimental statistics on the impact of COVID were released on 18 February.

  • Between 25 January and 7 February 2021, 20% of the workforce of all UK businesses were on furlough leave.
  • 37% of working adults in Great Britain worked exclusively from home in the last seven days - up slightly from last week.
  • In the week ending 12 February 2021, the volume of UK online job adverts stood at 81% of the level seen in the same week last year.
  • Online job adverts increased in 11 of the 28 Adzuna categories.
  • Ten of the 12 UK regions and countries saw a higher proportion of online job adverts when compared with the same week last year, than that seen in the previous week. The volume of online job adverts in Wales remained broadly unchanged, whereas Northern Ireland fell by five percentage points – but still remains above the level of this time last year.

The UK Supreme Court has ruled that Uber drivers are workers and not self-employed. Needless to say this may have profound implications for parts of the gig economy.

British Chambers of Commerce have surveyed their members on the impact of COVID 19:

  • 61% of firms reported decreased revenue from UK customers.
  • 19% of firms reported increased revenue and 20% reported no change.
  • 23% of firms say they have less than three months cash reserves left.
  • When asked what their business might do if the government support schemes end according to published timetable in March and April, 25% of firms overall said they would 'make staff redundant', 25% would 'reduce staff hours' and 19% would 'cancel or reduce investment or recruitment plans'.

The CIPD and Adecco Group have released their latest Labour Market Outlook report, surveying 2000 employers:

  • The survey's net employment intentions figure, which measures the difference between the proportion of employers expecting to add jobs and those planning to cut positions, rose to +11 this quarter - its highest in a year.
  • 56% of employers surveyed indicated they are looking to recruit in the first quarter of 2021.
  • Sectors that are indicating strong hiring intentions include healthcare (80%), finance and insurance (65%), education (65%) and information and communications (67%).
  • 20% of organisations planned to make redundancies in the first quarter of 2021.

Almost two million workers were unemployed or fully furloughed in January - and had been for at least six months according to the Resolution Foundation.

  • 700,000 workers had been unemployed for at least six months in January, while a further 500,000 workers had been fully furloughed (not working any hours) for that many months.
  • Because some people have moved between unemployment and full furlough in recent months, the total number who were unemployed or fully furloughed in January, and had been so for at least six months, was 1.9 million.
  • Around 8% of workers currently employed either expect to lose their jobs in the next three months, or have been told that they would be made redundant. This figure rises to 21% among those who have been furloughed for at least six months of the crisis.

McKinsey estimate that 8.1% of the UK workforce may need to transition to a new occupation by 2030.

McKinsey have released a report on the future of work.

  • Considering only remote work that can be done without a loss of productivity, McKinsey find that about 20% to 25% of the workforces in advanced economies could work from home between three and five days a week.
  • On average, companies plan to reduce office space by 30%.
  • About 20% of business travel, the most lucrative segment for airlines, may not return.
  • Two-thirds of senior executives surveyed said they were stepping up investment in automation and AI either somewhat or significantly. Production figures for robotics in China exceeded pre-pandemic levels by June 2020.
  • Compared to our pre-COVID-19 estimates, McKinsey expect the largest negative impact of the pandemic to fall on workers in food service and customer sales and service roles, as well as less-skilled office support roles. Jobs in warehousing and transportation may increase as a result of the growth in e-commerce and the delivery economy, but those increases are unlikely to offset the disruption of many low-wage jobs.
  • Demand for workers in the healthcare and STEM occupations may grow more than before the pandemic, reflecting increased attention to health as populations age and incomes rise as well as the growing need for people who can create, deploy, and maintain new technologies.
  • All occupational groups that McKinsey expect to grow to 2030 in the UK (and US, Germany and Spain) require post-18 qualifications, with the exception of transportation.
  • Before the pandemic, net job losses were concentrated in middle-wage occupations in manufacturing and some office work, reflecting automation, and low and high-wage jobs continued to grow. Nearly all low-wage workers who lost jobs could move into other low-wage occupations - for instance, a data entry worker could move into retail or home healthcare.
  • Because of the pandemic's impact on low-wage jobs, McKinsey now estimate that almost all growth in labour demand will occur in high-wage jobs.
  • More than half of displaced low-wage workers may need to shift to occupations in higher wage brackets and requiring different skills to remain employed.
  • McKinsey estimate that 8.1% of the UK workforce may need to transition to a new occupation by 2030.

Indeed have been busy. First, their analysis of job ads to 12 February:

  • Job postings were 37.3% below 1 February 2020 pre-pandemic baseline, seasonally adjusted.
  • The biggest improvement in job postings over the past month has been in construction (+17.4 percentage points versus the pre-pandemic baseline). Loading & stocking, manufacturing, logistic support and security & public safety have also seen improvements.
  • Regionally, job postings are down most in the South East, followed by Northern Ireland and London. The North East is closest to its pre-pandemic baseline.

Next, Indeed have examined the jobs markets in London, Paris, Berlin and Madrid:

  • Europe's four largest capitals - Berlin, London, Madrid and Paris - have embraced the shift to remote work but lag in total job postings.
  • Postings for higher-paid jobs perform better than those for lower-paid service jobs, aggravating inequality of opportunity.
  • Postings for work-from-home jobs are more prevalent in these capitals than elsewhere and grew faster in 2020 than postings for jobs that cannot be performed remotely, even when COVID-19 restrictions were being eased.
  • At their low point, postings were down 26% in Berlin, 57% in London, 48% in Madrid and 42% in Paris compared with the pre-pandemic baseline of 1 February 2020.
  • Relative to the rest of Spain, Madrid has staged a recovery, which probably reflects looser health restrictions there than in many other Spanish regions. London has also substantially narrowed the gap with the rest of the UK, but this may be because postings outside London have slumped again.

And Indeed have also looked at the Irish labour market.

  • Job postings on Indeed Ireland are 23.8% below the pre-pandemic baseline.
  • The COVID-19 adjusted unemployment rate jumped to 25% in January as the country went back into full lockdown.
  • Sectoral impacts from COVID-19 have been very uneven. Only in healthcare and production occupations have job postings exceeded their pre-pandemic baselines. Sectors impacted most by social distancing remain far below those levels.
  • Looking at jobseeker interest patterns since the start of 2021, there are tentative signs of increased EU interest in lower-paying sectors in Ireland. These are roles that would typically be harder to secure UK skilled worker visas for post-Brexit.
  • The share of job postings mentioning remote work has increased from 3.6% to 13.4% over the past year.
  • Some occupations have seen large jumps in the share of remote job postings, led by arts & entertainment, media & communications and marketing.

At all qualification levels, the proportion of disabled graduates in full time employment was lower than the proportion of non-disabled graduates in full time employment.

Also from Ireland - the Social and Living Conditions of Higher Education Students in Ireland. This is part of the Eurostudent VII Report, which reports on aspects of student lives ranging from their health and wellbeing, income and expenditure, socio-economic background to travel and accommodation.

  • The proportion of students studying at Irish higher education institutions has steadily increased in recent years - since the last Eurostudent report in 2016, the numbers of students enrolled has increased by 3.8%.
  • At undergraduate level, 52% of full-time students and 54% of part-time students are female. At postgraduate level for full-time students, this rises to 58% and for part-time students to 55%.
  • Students report high levels of feeling that they 'fit' into higher education and appear to have few doubts that higher education was the right choice for them.
  • Student satisfaction with the quality of teaching and the facilities of their institutions is high.
  • 74% of students have experienced at least one form of difficulty during higher education. The most common being difficulties due to the standard of work in their programme, followed by financial difficulties.
  • 35% of students in Ireland work throughout term - 40% of women and 30% of men.
  • Full-time students who work consistently throughout the term spend on average 17 hours per week in employment. For part-time students (who work throughout the term), the average amount of time spent in employment is 38 hours per week.
  • Of the total full-time student population, 94% of students said that they thought of themselves as a student first, and they work alongside their studies.
  • Of the total part-time student population 92% said that they thought of themselves as working first, and that they study alongside their job.

And new AGCAS research finds disparities between the employment outcomes of disabled and non-disabled graduates:

What Happens Next uses data from the Graduate Outcomes survey. 39,185 students (14.8% of the cohort) identified themselves as having a disability or learning difficulty during their studies.

  • The proportion of 2018 graduates at first degree level disclosing a mental health condition (22.0%) is higher than 2017 graduates (18.5%), which is in turn higher than the proportion of 2016 (15.6%) and 2015 (13.0%) graduates.
  • At all qualification levels, the proportion of disabled graduates in full time employment was lower than the proportion of non-disabled graduates in full time employment.
  • Disabled graduates at first degree and postgraduate (taught) levels were less likely to be employed on a permanent contract than non-disabled graduates. However, at postgraduate (research) level this gap is not evident.
  • At all qualification levels, graduates disclosing autism were least likely to be in full time employment and were most likely to be unemployed.
  • At all qualification levels, graduates with autism are the least likely of all disability graduates to be employed on a permanent contract and are most likely to be employed on a fixed term, temporary or voluntary basis. These graduates were also least likely to indicate that their qualification level and subject had been required for their job role and were least likely to have supervisory responsibility in their job role.

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