Late last month, a British recruiter by the name of Phil McDiarmid received what should have been a simple customer request: Could his company, Create IT, find four telecom riggers to climb mobile phone masts to put to level the antennas?
Workers were needed in England, where the collapse of the Debenhams and Arcadia retail groups had put 25,000 jobs in jeopardy and a restaurant that advertised a receptionist in July received 963 applications in one day.
Still, rigging teams are in demand as phone companies roll out 5G services across the country, and at the start of last week Mr McDiarmid had not had a single response to the ads he placed. offering up to £ 650 per day for a team of two workers. .
“I spoke to someone today who quoted £ 750 which is steep, but these guys know we’re all creaking,” he told the FT. “My client can say yes to this because he needs it.”
Welcome to the deeply uneven 2020 jobs market, where Covid-19 has hit main streets, hotels and airlines, but left other sectors unscathed or thriving.
Globally, the impact of the pandemic on workers has been “catastrophic”, according to the International Labor Organization. The United Nations agency estimates that the equivalent of 345 million full-time jobs were lost between July and September alone and the outlook for the new year is grim in many countries.
Yet employers are rushing to fill certain types of jobs as the virus is disrupting traditional employment models at a rate that has struck even for experts with decades of hiring experience.
“The past nine months have shown businesses that they can transform and digitize at a pace and on a scale they never thought possible,” says Jonas Prizing, Managing Director of the Employment Office ManpowerGroup. “This has led to an overnight change in the skills employers are looking for.”
American retail stores are a classic example of the phenomenon. Mr Prizing says they hired over the holidays as usual, “but not in roles we would usually expect”. Instead of recruiting more people to work on cash registers or on the sales floor, they are hiring drivers, warehouse workers, and supply chain experts to handle a boom in online deliveries.
The demand is by no means uniform. In the UK, data from ManpowerGroup shows that drivers are the most sought-after employees, followed by construction workers. But in France, it is the salespeople followed by the military and in Spain it’s still different: the health and social services professions come first, ahead of the sales and marketing roles.
For some jobs, timing is of the essence. In the United States, demand for one type of worker has jumped nearly 600% in October from the previous month, the LinkedIn jobs site was found. Who were they? Tax specialists. There was a rush to hire them as taxpayers scrambled to meet the October 15 production extension deadline.
Overall, recruiters agree that the pandemic is the strongest demand driver for workers who do one of three things: transform businesses digitally (as a data analyst or application developer can ); moving things (like a driver or warehouse worker) or helping people, like nurses and doctors do.
The need for medical personnel is unlikely to go away anytime soon. A job site used by UK NHS organizations listed nearly 18,000 listings last week.
The 10 main roles in increasing and decreasing demand in all sectors
1. Data analysts and scientists
2. AI and machine learning specialists
3. Big Data Specialists
4. Digital marketing and strategy specialists
5. Process automation specialists
6. Business Development Professionals
seven. Digital transformation specialists
8. Information security analysts
9. Software and application developers
ten. Internet of things specialists
Source: World Economic Forum
1. Data entry clerk
2. Administrative and executive secretaries
3. Accounting, bookkeeping and payroll clerk
4. Accountants and auditors
5. Assembly and factory workers
6. Directors of business services and administration
seven. Customer and customer service workers
8. General and operational directors
9. Machine mechanics and repairers
ten. Inventory registration and management clerk
The demand for some health posts is so high that it has forced recruiters to take special measures. Nick Kirk, UK chief executive of Michael Page employment agency, says the pandemic has fueled the market for in-store supermarket pharmacists who are so busy during the day that headhunters struggle to reach them for normal working hours.
“You don’t get your hands on a pharmacist until after 7 p.m.,” he says. “So we had to have a team that comes online later in the day or starts early to capture them because they won’t be talking to you throughout the work day.”
The story is similar for demand planners: people who forecast future demand for products so that a supply chain is ready to deliver them. The need for them has skyrocketed as businesses ramped up deliveries in the pandemic. Mr Kirk says jobs like this make up to around £ 50,000 a year and a colleague at one of his agency’s offices in Yorkshire just told him she could place someone in the role “Five times” for the moment.
In the case of tech jobs, Covid has accelerated existing demand by pushing everything from shopping to office work and online classrooms.
The need to protect networks from cybercriminals is a case in point. Before the pandemic, it was estimated that 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs would be vacant globally by 2021, up from 1 million in 2014.
The actual figure is unknown, but it is definitely “in the millions,” said retired US Army Major General John Davis, vice president of security firm Palo Alto Networks.
In the more uncertain early stages of the pandemic, the company slowed down its normally high rate of hiring. But he said it soon became apparent that Covid was causing a boom in cybercrime opportunities. “As a result, the need for cybersecurity in this new normal that we live in has also exploded,” he said.
Cyber security expertise is just one type of digital skills gap that companies have been fighting to fill this year.
As the pandemic progressed, some organizations were able to execute 18-month digital transformation plans in a weekend, consulting firm Accenture said. in a report this month.
But only 14% of companies were ‘digitally mature’ enough to do so, meaning they already had the digital tools, training and leadership they needed.
In Germany last week, it emerged that the Daimler automotive group, a relative laggard in the electric car market, plans to hire thousands from software coders to build a digital operating system to compete with Tesla’s.
At first glance, this seems like good news for a coder in a tech epicenter like Silicon Valley.
But as with so much else in 2020, conventional wisdom is changing. Mr Kirk of the Michael Page agency says the ‘Covid supercharging effect’ has complicated the hiring picture as employers saw how much work can be done outside of the office.
Last week, he spoke with a contact from an organization based in Europe that was looking to hire hundreds of tech workers.
He says he was told, “Look, they can work anywhere in the world. I just want the best people available. And if they’re not in this country where our great shining head office is located, that’s fine.