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The Jobs Market – A Moving Target?

Jobs have been much in the news of late and depending on your point of view the jobs ‘glass’ is half full or half empty.

According to a recent report in City AM the Recruitment and Employment Federation said the number of new jobs has increased by 600,000 since the end of August, bringing the total number of vacancies up to 2.29m.

Addison Lee, London’s leading private hire taxi company, has announced plans to recruit 1,000 new drivers – seen as a clear sign that economic activity in the capital is picking up rapidly.

Job vacancies are on the rise around the world: in the UK both the number of people on payrolls and the number of vacancies are increasing.

So how can anyone’s glass possibly be half empty?

The main reason is that the furlough scheme ended on September 30th.

When the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (to use its full title) ended, there were still approximately 900,000 people on it. Many companies with workers on the scheme will simply not be able to afford to employ them as it ends. As many commentators have said, the jobs market will be bumpy for several months to come and successfully managing worker shortages in some sectors of the economy will go a long way to determining the success of the UK’s economic recovery.

But there is another ‘bump in the road’ on the horizon – one which is going to cause real problems for employers.

Under plans announced recently, employees will now be able to request that they work from home from their first day in a new job: previously an employee had to accrue 26 weeks of continuous employment before being able to make such a request.

On the face of it, the new proposals are good news – and were specifically aimed at allowing women, disabled people and carers to better manage their work/life balance.

But with one in four UK employees apparently looking to change jobs, these new proposals could cause serious difficulties for employers. How do you train someone if they’re at home from day one? How do they absorb your company culture and values? What about mentoring? And is there a risk of a divide in the business: the team that comes into the office and the team that stays at home…?

The simple fact, though, is that the pandemic has irreversibly changed the world of work. Throw in demographic factors – Millennials and Generation Z very clearly want different things from work to their parents’ generation – and ‘bumpy’ may be a considerable understatement.