Dorset labour market insights december 2020

Latest insights into Dorset's labour market 

As we enter 2021 and a fresh lockdown, we look back at what a year 2020 has been and what the dynamics of a rapidly developing pandemic and EU transition uncertainty meant for the world of recruitment, employment and skills in Dorset.

Download our Look Back at 2020: Dorset Labour Market Insights Report for a review of 2020, which includes a dashboard commentary and wider local and national trends. Key findings are also highlighted below and you can use the dashboard to explore the latest labour market developments.

All our insights should be read in conjunction with the Understanding LMI during COVID-19 guidance on issues related to interpreting these statistics.

Key findings:

  • Bouncing back from lockdowns: recruitment activity resilience. Dorset’s vacancies recovering better after lockdowns than the UK average.

Dorset’s vacancy figures in 2020 indicate recruitment activity recovered relatively well after crashing by half with the first lockdown. The second lockdown in November caused a wobble, but nothing of the extent seen earlier in the year and was followed by a swift comeback in December. There were 57,433 vacancies advertised in Dorset in 2020, closing the year at 92% of their 2019 levels. Remarkably, there were 47% more vacancies in December 2020 than a year earlier, which is 18ppt higher than the UK average.

  • Top employers in Dorset 2020

The National Health Service was by far the largest individual employer. J.P.Morgan, Bournemouth University and the Councils joined the top of the chart as individual employers, while residential care firms saw continued increase in recruitment activity, jointly forming the second largest chunk of demand after healthcare. Engineering firms' recruitment held up, but saw mixed demand with RNLI, Siemens, Curtis Wright and Holt Engineering being more tentative, while Cobham, Ultra Electronics and Gattaca increased their vacancies. In December, Bourne Leisure represented tourism at the top employers chart.

  • Industries with high demand continued recruiting

Overall recruitment for most sectors was lower in 2020 with vacancies sharply plummeting with the first lockdown, and recovery varying considerably over the course of the year and across industries. While labour demand fell by half in accommodation and food services, arts, entertainment, and recreation, it was largely maintained in financial services, utilities and professional, scientific and technical activities while it actually grew by a quarter in the health and social care sector.

  • Sharp increase in the available workforce

There were 4.6 claimants for each advertised vacancy in November - a ratio three times as high as the pre-crisis levels, but improvement from the 7.5 peak in May.

As large parts of the economy closed back in March, a quarter of working age residents were furloughed and claimant count grew almost threefold in Dorset. Over the following months, claimants remained high, accounting for 5% of the 16+ residents and 7% of 18- 24 year olds in November. The good news is the number of furloughed workers significantly dropped to 5% in November without causing further increase in claimants, and indicating movements back to work.

  • Employed? Unemployed? Furloughed? How support schemes and homeworking changed the trajectory

While restrictions disrupted the market as seen with furlough and claimant counts, the devastating effects on unemployment feared earlier in the pandemic have thus far been avoided. Unemployment remained lower in Dorset over the first half of 2020 and unlike previous recessions, with many jobs and businesses protected by the support schemes, vacancies bounced back relatively quickly, allowing cautious optimism.

Another mitigating factor is homeworking, which saw a steep rise in April when almost half of employees were working from home and very few have returned to the office since. Amongst concerns on homeworker’s health and happiness, homeworking is here to stay.

  • EU workers going home?

Looking at employment by nationality in the UK in September 2020 compared to an year earlier, there were .5% more British workers in employment, but a significant proportion of European workers (16.5%) have disappeared from employment. Notably, there were almost a quarter fewer employed from A8 and A2 EU countries.

Visit UK Brexit Transition Hub - for guidance on new rules or Dorset Gateway - the best place for local businesses and citizens to start.

  • Skills mismatch between vacancies and those looking for work

As the pandemic hit sectors of the economy differently, low-skilled workers and young people are disproportionately affected with almost half of the 18-24-year olds working in Dorset employed in distribution, hotels and restaurants. While there are sectors with vacancies, skills mismatch could slow movement across sectors and cause unemployment lagging for longer, while skills gaps remain a challenge for employers. Historically, Dorset has adjusted relatively quickly to shocks, maintaining low unemployment, but it would be critical that people gain new skills to support the recovery and avoid long-term unemployment scarring.

Youth Offer guidance has been published in support of claimants aged 18 – 24.

The Learning and Work Institute’s Youth Commission Report - Unleashing Talent: Levelling up opportunity for young people is calling for a 10 year strategy for 16-24 year olds education.

  • Providing intelligence, leadership and support

It is our priority to provide quality intelligence, signpost people to available opportunities for work, experience and gaining new skills, while investing in local educational providers and career development at schools and colleges.

A list of measures announced with the recent Spending review are included in our report, including the new An Hour to Skill’ campaign, urging people to add learning to their new years’ resolutions and set aside an hour a week for online learning.

Taking a free course from The Skills Toolkit can set you apart in a competitive job market, while keeping abreast with the local Labour Market and Skills Research produced by Dorset LEP will guide you on latest trends within Dorset’s key industries and allow you to make informed career decisions.

Download the full Look Back at 2020: Dorset Labour Market Insights Report.