At least half of employers in the UK intend to hire staff within the next three months, which is the first sign of any positive employment prospects in a year. It comes as the latest official figures from the Office for National Statistics show unemployment reached 5% in the run-up to Christmas last year, the highest for five months.  

In a survey of 2,000 employers, The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 56% of businesses plan to increase their workforce in the coming months. This is a slight rise on the 53% in late 2020. However, it’s a considerable drop from the 66% intending to hire staff a year ago before the coronavirus outbreak. 

Hiring intentions 

Healthcare, insurance, ICT, finance, and education show the strongest intentions to hire this year. Meanwhile, the hospitality sector, which has suffered the most from the lockdowns, was revealed as having the weakest recruitment intentions. Just 36% of hospitality bosses plan to hire new staff, according to the survey.  

According to the Office for National Statistics, the most recent unemployment rate, from September to November, was 5%. That’s a rise of 0.6% over the previous three months and equates to 1.72 million people unemployed.  

The findings of the survey suggest unemployment could now be near its peak. Given the drop in the stream of workers coming from abroad, it could even fall under official forecasts.  

Redundancies in 2021

The number of businesses planning redundancies in the first quarter of this year fell from 30% to 20% compared to the previous three months. However, it’s still too early to exclude further private sector redundancies later in the year, especially if the Government decides not to extend its furlough scheme to the end of June or if the economy experiences any more unforeseen shocks.  

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) issued its own warning last week that one in four of its members will have to cut jobs if the support ended while businesses still suffer the pandemic’s impactAlmost a third of firms say that they will run out of money in the next three months without Government support.  

The Governments furlough scheme currently supports around one in five privatesector workers; it was due to come to an end on 20 April and has now been extended to 30 September 2021 for all sectors, with employer contributions gradually increasing from 1 July 2021.

The BCC wants the Government to set out a clear road map for reopening the economy, including extending financial aid to businesses for the rest of 2021.  

The CIPD warned that it would be hugely counterproductive if the Government withdrew its financial support while sectors are still struggling. 


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