The Covid-19 pandemic has devastated businesses across the UK, with tens of thousands of jobs having been lost, but some companies are hiring nonetheless.
Many of the roles are in industries that have experienced high demand, such as doorstep delivery and hygiene products. According to one employment website, coronavirus has significantly altered the market by not only reducing the number of vacancies but also by changing the nature of the opportunities that are available.
Jack Kennedy, an economist at the jobs website Indeed.com, said: “We have seen recent upticks in reopening sectors of the economy, but overall hiring trends remain far below pre-crisis levels. The types of available jobs have changed too. This represents the biggest shift in job opportunities since the post-financial crisis recovery began.”
Simon French, chief economist at stockbroker Panmure Gordon, said many of the changes in employment would be cyclical. “There are compliance jobs to make your operations Covid-19 compliant. These are a mix of the temporary and the repetitive (or at least as long as the virus lasts).”
He added: “There are ‘channel shift jobs’ that service remote transacting whether it is shopping, home working or staycations. These will persist if these behaviours are sticky post-Covid. And there are disruption jobs – where recession benefits the sector – like debt collecting. This is likely to be cyclical.”
Amazon and Hermes
One of the obvious winners of the jobs shift have been home delivery and logistics businesses. The giant online retailer Amazon has “opened 15,000 new full- and part-time positions and delivery driver opportunities” across the UK in its fulfilment centres and logistics network.
Meanwhile, the parcel delivery firm Hermes is creating more than 10,000 jobs as it gears up to cope with the shift to home shopping.
The company said last month it wants 9,000 more couriers, most of whom are classed as self-employed and so not guaranteed the legal minimum wage, full sick pay or holiday benefits. It will also hire 1,500 full-time staff.
Elsewhere, the number of job postings for heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers rose by 9.7% in the first week of July compared with the prior week, according to analysis conducted by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).
The acceleration of the home delivery trend has affected hiring at the supermarkets, although the increases are not totally down to the rise in doorstep drop-offs.
Aldi is to hire 1,200 new employees as the supermarket chain plans to open an average of one new store a week between now and Christmas. Its German rival Lidl plans to open 25 stores in the next six months, creating up to 1,000 jobs by the end of the year. Neither of the German chains offer a full online shopping service to customers.
Morrisons is also hiring more than 20,000 staff to handle an increase in online shopping, but also as cover for the large numbers of its employees that are either off sick, are shielding or are caring for relatives, plus generally higher staffing needs in the current environment.
While supermarkets are hiring, the pandemic has also increased demand for other food businesses, including those supplying pre-prepared ingredients for customers to cook meals at home.
One such company, Gousto, says it has already sold more meals in 2020 than it did in the whole of 2019. The London-based firm has announced it is creating 1,000 jobs.
According to the REC data, one of the more buoyant sectors for new jobs at present is in technology, with the number of job postings for programmers and software designers increasing by more than 6%.
Among the tech firms that are hiring is the Cambridge-based chip designer Arm Holdings, which has confirmed a previous commitment to having at least 3,494 staff in the UK by 2021, of which 70% must be in tech roles. The company is currently 575 roles short of its target with 2,919 employees in the UK currently.
Reports on Friday suggested the firm could be up for sale to US firm Nvidia.
Products we hardly considered using before coronavirus came into our lives are suddenly in demand – and scores of companies are responding.
Ineos, the chemicals group owned by billionaire industrialist Sir Jim Ratcliffe, plans to produce hospital grade hand gels, sanitiser sprays and sanitiser wipes. The new business was set up as a crash project in March and will initially employ 200 people – some of whom will be existing employees – with hopes to create more jobs.
Meanwhile, Medex Scientific is creating 30 new jobs at its facility in Ebbw Vale, south Wales, to satisfy the growing demand for masks from all parts of the UK economy.