Three in five employers saw increase in job applications from other sectors during pandemic, poll finds

Businesses increasingly value applicants with ‘soft’ skills, but a university education continues to be important

Three in five businesses have seen an increase in job applications from other industries since the start of the pandemic, a poll of employers has found.

The survey of 250 hiring decision makers, conducted by Reed in December, found that 60 per cent were seeing more applicants who had either reskilled or were transferring from other sectors.

The survey, which asked a range of questions about hiring intent, also found that most employers still valued a university education, with three in five (60 per cent) hiring managers agreeing with this.

Simon Wingate, managing director of Reed, said that while figures on reskilling were positive, employers needed to do more to accommodate applicants from different backgrounds.

“Employers should be more flexible when it comes to hiring, by looking at workers who haven’t got qualifications but who are willing to learn and have useful transferable skills for a modern working environment.

“By sticking to a rigid, old-fashioned approach to recruiting, you could be discarding talent that could help fuel your growth plans in 2022,” he said.

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Wingate added that 2021 saw “more opportunities than ever” after the economy bounced back from the Covid-19 recession, but that employers needed to “find creative solutions to improve their recruitment prospects”.

As well as a university education, employers were increasingly placing importance on soft skills, according to the survey. Two-thirds (64 per cent) of hiring managers polled said that skills such as teamwork were important after the move to remote working, with larger companies (those with more than 1,000 employees) more likely to value soft skills.

Additionally, a third (35 per cent) of those polled said remote working brought importance to soft skills more than ever.

The survey also found more than half (55 per cent) of respondents said there were current labour shortages in their sector. However, most (82 per cent) said they thought the shortages would improve in 2022.

Additionally, almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of respondents said they felt optimistic about the year ahead. Two-thirds (67 per cent) reported that their business revenues were on par with, or had exceeded, pre-pandemic levels, and half (49 per cent) said that they were likely to hire more people in 2022 compared to 2021.