Report highlights ‘two-speed’ approach to jobs in wake of pandemic

A new report from the CBI and Pertemps finds some firms still hiring, while the rest are reducing or freezing jobs, but action on diversity and inclusion has increased, particularly on race.



A two-speed jobs market is emerging with 51% of firms expecting to maintain or increase their permanent recruitment in the next 12 months and 46% planning to either reduce permanent recruitment or not recruit at all, according to an annual report from the Confederation of British Industry and Pertemps.

The report shows that nearly half of the 248 employers questioned say they are exploring business transformation and restructuring plans as a priority.

In light of the pandemic, half of respondents said that they have taken steps to protect jobs. Within this group, nearly half of them have reduced working hours (46%) while more than two in five (43%) have reduced bonuses. One quarter of them have reduced overtime and pay premiums (26%).

Firms are taking a cautious approach on pay in an attempt to preserve jobs, particularly on raising the National Minimum Wage. A third of respondents plan to implement a pay freeze across all roles (up from 5% in 2019). Meanwhile, 8% plan above inflation increases and 29% aim to raise pay for their employees in line with inflation.

On diversity and inclusion, nearly two in five respondents have either slightly increased or significantly increased their focus, while the remaining 62% report no change. The largest increase in terms of action on diversity has been to focus more on race at work, with nearly one fifth (17%) of respondents starting an internal process to assess how they recruit, retain and progress their BAME employees. Meanwhile 14% of firms are organising internal activities to raise awareness of the experiences and outcomes of BAME employees.

When it comes to entry level jobs, 47% plan to maintain or increase recruitment, compared to 45% of respondents who expect to reduce recruitment or stop hiring altogether. 42% of respondents expect to take steps to support young people in the year ahead, with one quarter of businesses (26%) maintaining or increasing the number of apprenticeships for young people and 15% creating more traineeships. One in ten firms intend to use the Kickstart Scheme to create additional jobs for young people.

Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director, said the UK was seeing “a two-speed recovery”, adding: “As the Job Retention Scheme unwinds, it’s crucial another lifeline is found. A new short-time working scheme should be open to all businesses who might be struggling now, but who have a sustainable future after this crisis.”

Carmen Watson, Chairperson of Pertemps, said: “Flexible working arrangements will be a priority for businesses, as they continue to manage change, so it is not surprising to see nearly half of respondents putting transformation and restructuring plans as a priority. Increasing numbers of clients we are talking to are looking for recruitment services ‘on-demand,’ with the ability to expand recruiting capacity where and when it’s needed.”




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