HR vacancies dropped 40 per cent last year, figures show

14 Jul 2021 By Francis Churchill

But experts say recovery for the profession is ‘well under way’ as lockdown measures begin to ease

Vacancies for HR roles plummeted at the start of lockdown last year, new figures have shown, but had begun to recover by the end of the year.

Research from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) and Vacancysoft found the number of vacancies for the profession dropped 38 per cent year-on-year in 2020.

The organisation said the reduction was largely caused by a more general slowdown in hiring caused by the first lockdown, which saw overall hiring drop by 80 per cent in April last year – the first full month of lockdown – when compared to the previous year.

However, the study found HR vacancies started to recover as the year progressed, and by the last quarter of the year were up 12 per cent on the same period in 2019.

Demand for interims also remained strong throughout last year as employers relied more on contingent workforces, the research found.

Ann Swain, CEO of APSCo, said it was no surprise demand for HR professionals reduced last year, but that the recovery was “well underway”.

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“As we progress throughout 2021 and lockdown measures are eased we expect to see the recruitment market for HR professionals continue on a positive trajectory,” she said.

Separately, the latest figures from the government’s Insolvency Services has shown the number of planned redundancies fell to its lowest level last month since the start of the pandemic. Employers planning to make more than 20 redundancies are required to disclose how many they intend to make to the agency. 

The agency was informed of 15,661 potential redundancies in June, down from just over 19,000 in May and nearly 32,000 in January.

This compares to a peak of more than 155,000 in June last year – the month that the government first announced changes to the initial version of the job retention scheme preventing employers from furloughing workers who had not previously been on the scheme.

The number of employers reporting 20 or more redundancies also fell to just 151 in June this year, compared to 210 in May and a peak of 1,289 in June last year.

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