As the UK officially enters recession, many people based in industries hard-hit by the pandemic will be faced with loss of work. Official jobs figures released on Tuesday showed the number of people in work fell by 220,000 between April and June. More redundancies are inevitable when the government furlough scheme ends in October.
While some industries are expected to pick up again in 2021, the chancellor said the government should not pretend that "absolutely everybody can and will be able to go back to the job they had". Yet his summer statement also acknowledged that the longer people were out of work the more their skills begin to fade. The statement was strongly focused on getting people back to work, with funding to support job creation in new areas and increased careers guidance.
Although the pandemic has caused the economy to shrink by some 20%, it has also wrought massive changes in the busines world that are creating new areas of demand. While laying off staff is inevitable for many organisations, the ability to make the transition into this new market will be a key factor in keeping working.
While one in three firms say they will announce more redundancies by autumn, hiring has also seen sustained growth. With some joined-up thinking, there’s surely a huge opportunity for the ‘redeployment’ of skills here. Afterall, redundancy is about a business’s ability to survive, and not about the relevance of a person’s skills in the wider market.
Unfortunately, the reliance of recruitment agencies on sector specific key words radically narrows the candidate search. It also has the knock-on effect of populating companies with workers who demonstrate similar skills and educational backgrounds. While this may seem like a generalisation, there’s enough truth in it to have caused business to diversify their work force in recent years.
While there’s societal pressure to see businesses hiring a more socially representational workforce, the truth is that greater diversity brings increased strength and dynamism to business. In many areas, workers develop core skills that can be redeployed in many areas – often with the added benefit of injecting businesses with fresh perspective.
The Covid-crisis highlighted how adaption and ingenuity helped organisations to survive. Take Ford, for example, who shifted their activity from making cars to making ventilators. When front-line help was needed in hospitals, many roles were filled by cabin crew staff trained in basic emergency aid – an initiative that took place not only in the UK, but also in Sweden. The recent crash in the oil and gas sector has led some energy workers to look into recycling their skills in the renewables sector, which is going from strength to strength.
The pandemic has been a particularly tough time for many contractors, with little government support available to them and the threat of the IR35 reforms to contend with next year. Yet contractors are familiar with change and using their independent skills to bring fresh blood to an organisation. The current situation signals a prime opportunity for contractors to think carefully about how their expertise can be utilised in areas of demand they might not have previously worked in.
Recent data indicates a massive boom in online learning, with people using time out of work to build on their existing skills and professional development. This can be a fast and effective way of plugging any gaps that exist between sectors, and upcycling your current skills to minimise transitional difficulties. While crossing into a different industry might not be seamless, companies stand to gain more from someone with relevant experience and skills form a different sector, than from a person with narrow or limited experience.
If you’re looking for a new role, read up on who’s hiring post-lockdown. Umbrella Exchange have access to a wide range of hassle-free services that can help you with setting up a limited company or finding the right umbrella company for you. To talk to a member of our team, call: 0203 393 3881