The sectors still recruiting during the coronavirus lockdown
Unemployment is set to surge in the UK as the economy shrinks amid the coronavirus lockdown, economists have warned.
Job vacancies plummeted by 52,000 year-on-year to 795,000 for the first three months of 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics.
UK employment was at a record high of 76.6% before the lockdown and the increase in unemployment for March was lower than predicted, but KPMG chief economist Yael Selfin told City A.M. that these figures “mask the extent of the rise in unemployment” expected in 2020 as a whole.
“We estimate that as many as 13 million jobs are in sectors highly affected by the lockdown, representing 36% of all jobs in the UK,” she said, predicting that unemployment could rise from 4% to 9% during the lockdown period.
So with unemployment threatening to rocket, who is still hiring during the pandemic?
Metro reports that supermarkets are bucking the trend for furloughing staff, instead going on widespread recruitment drives to handle increased pressure during the coronavirus pandemic.
Morrisons hired 3,500 new staff in March “to meet the soaring demand for home deliveries”, the paper says, while Aldi was aiming to hire around 9,000 new staff members and Tesco had openings for 20,000 new workers.
Tesco is looking for new workers who can start immediately in a range of full-time and temporary roles, Metro notes, with Sainsbury’s also advertising for people to join its workforce and help it “in feeding the nation”.
Supermarket chain Iceland has stopped hiring for in-store staff, but is currently calling for more than 150 drivers to help keep up with demand for home deliveries.
Iceland is not the only company seeking more staff to help keep up with home delivery orders.
Likewise, parcel delivery company Hermes has 225 roles across the UK ranging from drivers to warehouse staff.
Both say they offer flexible working hours and weekly pay, which Deliveroo claims is up to “£120 a day” and “100% of all your tips”.
The care sector is hiring staff to deal with the additional strains of the coronavirus pandemic.
The government’s social care website lists 470 openings within ten miles of London, as well as 215 in Manchester, 120 in Birmingham and 75 in Bristol.
The BBC also reported that home care company Cera has created 10,000 jobs providing immediate relief and support to the NHS and elderly in isolation. The broadcaster adds that care provider Home Instead Senior Care is taking on 3,000 “kind, compassionate people” to cope with the pandemic.
The BBC also reported that a leaked letter revealed an extensive list of concerns about how the social care sector is coping with the coronavirus crisis.
Written to a senior official at the Department of Health and Social Care by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass), it says mixed messages from the government have created “confusion and additional workload”. It also described the national handling of the protective equipment shortage as “shambolic”.
Unsurprisingly, the National Health Service is recruiting more staff to handle the crisis.
As well as listings for medical specialists, the NHS website also has around 300 vacancies for driving jobs across the country. However, not all roles are paid.
Metro adds: “If you want to help our national health service in its greatest hour of need, there are a wide range of different jobs available.”
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The BBC says that Lloyds Pharmacy needs 1,500 temporary and permanent roles filling. Vacancies include dispensers, pharmacists, delivery drivers and warehouse staff across its 1,400 UK branches.
Toby Anderson, chief executive of Lloyds Pharmacy, said: “We know this is a difficult time, with many people struggling with job losses or redundancies, so we hope that this opportunity will provide some hope for those who need it most, as well as helping us to continue providing a first-class healthcare service.”
The government has said that some of the millions of British workers furloughed during the coronavirus lockdown will be encouraged to take a second job picking fruit and vegetables.
Giving the daily coronavirus briefing yesterday, Environment Secretary George Eustice said only a third of the migrant workers who normally picked fruit and vegetables were currently in the UK.
Although the international food chain was continuing to “work well”, Eustice said that he expected there would be a need to recruit UK staff to harvest crops in the coming weeks.
“We’re also acutely aware that we’re about to start the British season in fresh produce, in soft fruits and salads,” Eustice said.
“We are working with industry to identify an approach that will encourage those millions of furloughed workers in some cases to consider taking a second job, helping get the harvest in June.”
Internet and phone company Virgin Media is creating 500 UK contact centre jobs to keep customers connected during the coronavirus pandemic. Roles on a temporary and fixed-term basis will be based in Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester and Teesside.
“We’re working day and night to keep the country connected and make sure services are running smoothly,” said Abby Thomas, an executive director at Virgin Media. “In these difficult times, we’re really proud to soon be welcoming hundreds of new staff to our contact centres who will help us continue to serve our customers.”