At the start of lockdown, recruiters, like most people in the Island outside the essentially employed, began working from home. Clients continued to follow up on key positions and a certain number of new posts became available. However, while the Coronavirus pandemic certainly didn’t stop recruitment, it made it much more difficult.
Today we are all used to video-conferencing clients or getting together with colleagues on Teams. Indeed, the prospect of a video interview seems almost more ‘normal’ now than face-to-face meetings.
At Kendrick Rose it might not have been ‘business as usual’ but, like many recruiters, we have been working throughout the pandemic. There were hires we had in the pipeline that organisations were still keen to fill, and we continued to place candidates throughout lockdown.
As Jersey moved through the Covid-19 Exit Strategy, relaxing restrictions as the number of people with the virus dropped, organisations have begun looking forward to the next stage.
At the same time, people are considering their future in more concrete terms. In the UK, Google searches for ‘recruitment’ or ‘jobs’ began to rise substantially in June after dropping significantly in March and April.
The lockdown has given a lot of people time to think and consider their priorities. And, while most people in Jersey have jobs to go back to, the question for some will be whether they want to. The issue at a time like this is, if a lot of jobs get taken off the table by firms putting halts on recruitment, it makes it harder for anyone to take risks to move around so some of us may stay in jobs longer than we would normally expect to.
Economic predictions for 2020
Jersey’s Income Forecasting Group predicts public revenues this year will be £106 million lower than forecasts made in autumn 2019 and will remain below forecasted levels until after 2023. The Fiscal Policy Panel predicts a 7.3% drop in Jersey’s annual real GVA for 2020, a 4% decline in financial services sector profits, a 3.1% reduction in employment, a 3.9% loss of average earnings, and a 15.4% slump in house prices.
The economic indicators are not positive. However, there are huge differences in sectors and, despite the predicted decline in profits, Jersey’s financial services businesses are generally global operations of sufficient scale to weather short-term declines and we do not expect to see significant job losses.
Drop in unemployment in June
The weekly economic indicators show a decline in Islanders registering as unemployed, with figures for 5 July showing 1,910, registered Actively Seeking Work (ASW), down 470 from the peak of 2,380, on 24 May.
This is positive. However, we still have 1,080 more people looking for jobs than the same period in 2019, and these figures do not include people with less than five years’ residency claiming CRESS support, or people who do not choose to register as ASW.
Before the pandemic we had been experiencing one of the hottest job markets since the global financial crisis of 2008/2009, so this is a massive change for recruitment. However, while there are more candidates looking for new jobs, the Actively Seeking Work figures do not reflect what we are seeing regarding highly qualified professional roles.
There are still highly specialised roles where the size of the population means there are not many suitable candidates, and candidates who fit the criteria are still in demand.
Salaries had been rising gradually to keep pace with inflation. However, pay rises in 2020 are unlikely.
The Fiscal Policy Panel’s revised forecast put inflation down 0.4% and the Retail Price Index down 1.2%. With almost all businesses suffering a loss of revenue, and a rise in costs this year, pay rises or bonuses will be unlikely.
A Kendrick Rose survey in early April found 69% of people working in finance in Jersey were working from home on full pay during the Covid-19 pandemic, compared to a cross-sector average of 32%, demonstrating the security of financial services sector employment in the Island.
Many firms have been good to employees during lockdown, keeping people on full pay despite reductions in productivity or hours. Indeed, up to 61% of people we surveyed planned to stay with their employer and just 9% of people said they would like to move jobs because they were unhappy with how their employer treated them during lockdown.
The way forward
Normally in Jersey people are out and about talking to people they know, finding opportunities through their networks. We may still communicate regularly with our families and friends, yet we have all missed out on chance conversations with acquaintances at events or colleagues around the office.
After learning to live so much more of our lives online, the first place people turn when looking for a new job now is the Internet.
Jobs pages reveal positions that are already available, but there are often also jobs that are ‘nearly there’ that candidates only find out about if recruiters know you might be interested. When people register, we know who has the right skills and experience to speak to as a position emerges, which means candidates can discover good opportunities at an earlier stage.