Empowering the Freelance Economy

Want a new job? Go for growth sectors to boost chances

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Around one-in-five young people, and over one-in-five black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workers, who were furloughed during lockdown have since their lost jobs – and just one-in-three young people who have lost their jobs have been able to find new work – according to a Resolution Foundation report published on Wednesday.

The report, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs – supported by the Health Foundation and which includes a detailed online YouGov survey of 6,061 adults across the UK– analyses how the UK labour market has changed during the first eight months of the crisis, and the outlook for jobs over the coming months.

Researched showed that the recent rise in unemployment – which is expected to keep climbing over the coming months – is not just due to people losing their jobs. In fact, it finds that the majority of the increase is the result of fewer unemployed people being able to find new work than normal.

It would seem they are looking in the very sectors that have been hit hardest rather than looking into growth sectors, such as e-learning, content creation, medtech, healthtech applications, fintech, cybersecurity, remote services, telecommunications, data centres, construction technology services, social care, and renewables, to name a few.

Still looking since March

The report notes that fewer than half (43 per cent) of those who have lost their jobs since March had found new work by September, falling to just one-in-three (33 per cent) among young people, and 36 per cent of people in hard-hit sectors like hospitality, leisure and non-food retail.

The Foundation says that there is little sign that workers exiting these struggling sectors are flowing into areas of the labour market that are able to grow during this pandemic. Among those looking for work who currently or previously worked in hospitality, leisure or non-food retail, the top four job-search destinations are hospitality, leisure, and non-food retail, as well as administrative positions.

The report notes that people are more likely to look for vacancies in the leisure sector (21 per cent) – which had the fewest listed vacancies of all major industry groups in recent months – than the sectors with the most listed vacancies – social care (where 17 per cent looked for vacancies). This suggests the UK is unlikely to see a swift reallocation of labour, and that high unemployment will be with us for some time to come, says the Foundation.

The report also notes that while widespread furloughing has curbed the rise in unemployment in the early phase of the pandemic, the winding down of the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) is revealing the true nature of Britain’s jobs crisis.

Hardest hit

The post-furloughing fall into unemployment has been most common among 18-24-year olds (19 %), BAME workers (22%) and those previously working on insecure contracts (22%).

The Foundation adds that the scale of unemployment identified in its survey implies unemployment of 7 per cent in September – well above the latest official figures of 4.5 per cent in the three months to August – rising to 20 per cent among 18-24 year olds. This would mean the UK is already facing the highest levels of youth unemployment in four decades.

The employment effects of the crisis so far have borne down particularly hard on London. Over one-in-five workers (21%) in the most deprived parts of the country were either not working, furloughed, or had lost hours (and pay) in early September because of coronavirus (compared to 17% across the UK as a whole). And of this group, more than one-in-four (28% cent) live in London.

Kathleen Henehan, Senior Research and Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “The true nature of Britain’s jobs crisis is starting to reveal itself. Around one-in-five young people, and over one-in-five BAME workers, have fallen straight from furloughing into unemployment.

“Worryingly, fewer than half of those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic have been able to find work since. This suggests that even if the public health crisis recedes in a few months’ time, Britain’s jobs crisis will be with us for far longer.”

The report says that while the initial effects of the crisis bore heavily on the youngest and lowest paid, there are some signs that labour market disruption will likely become more widespread over time.

Could you be a labour market disruptor, but in a good way?

The Freelance Informer suggests that anyone at a loss for finding permanent employment should consider pooling resources and skills together among friends or former colleagues in the same boat. Freelancers United. Could you create new opportunities on a local or regional level? Local deliveries, odd jobs, pre-made meals, gardening, web site design, tech help, writing, cleaning, or a combination of skills. The jump to becoming self-employed may seem daunting at first, but if it is the only means of making a living in the current jobs market, then you have nothing to lose. By pooling skill sets with others, there is a better chance that you can cover more jobs, areas, and opportunities.

Have a question about setting up a business? Get in touch and we will work to find the answer or direct you to someone who may be able to provide sound advice. If you’d like your question answered in our Freelancers’ Couch advice column, email ‘The Couch’ at editor@freelanceinformer.com

Figures are from YouGov plc. Total sample size was 6,061 18-65-year-olds. Fieldwork was undertaken during 17-22 September 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+) according to age, gender, and region.

  • The figures presented here and in the report have been tabulated and analysed independently by the Resolution Foundation. They are not the views of YouGov.
  • The survey of 18-65-year-olds commissioned for the report was supported by the Health Foundation (although the views expressed here are not necessarily those of the Heath Foundation).
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