The Impact Covid-19 is Having on Employment and the Recruitment Sector

Over the past five years, the UK recruitment sector has seen a steady growth every year, with the 2019 market being valued at £38.9bn; an impressive rise despite the uncertainty surrounding the impact of Brexit. The novel COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the world’s economy altogether, and although there are many admirable initiatives that the government has employed, like the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which is at £42bn, recent figures show that there has been a sharp decline in the recruitment sector since the 2009 economic crash that happened globally.

Employment Rates

The positive impact the recruitment industry had on overall employment growth in the UK has seen the UK reach the lowest unemployment since 1970. This positive impact has swiftly plummeted as March recorded a record-breaking rate of unemployment, with a 910% increment in universal credit claims and to no surprise, projected rise in unemployment levels from 3.8% in Q1 2020 to 10% in Q2, to levels that were last seen in 1993.

Effect on Businesses

It’s a fact that the hospitality and leisure industries have been affected most, with government-sanctioned lockdown measures shutting down the majority of businesses and minimising the chance one has of delivering services. According to research, it is said that 46% of staff in the hospitality and leisure sector will get furloughed, and up to 11 million individuals across various sectors expected to be laid off or furloughed over the coming months. Although the leisure sector is the front-runner on the jobs in marketing most at risk, as well as mining, transportation, consumer-focused industries like retail and possibly encapsulating recruitment, are high on the list as well.

Although these are disconcerting figures, public belief suggests that the economic slowdown will be short term instead of a full-blown depression. According to projections, GDP for Q2 will decline by 35%, followed by a rapid convalescence for Q3/Q4, before things get stable at the beginning of 2021. So what does this imply for the recruitment industry?

A couple of months ago, there were projections of a meagre 3-6% year-on-year growth for the recruitment industry for the year 2019-2021 while at the same time navigating the challenges affiliated with our imminent exit from the EU. It’s evident that the situation we find ourselves in is different, but businesses that manage to evolve and survive this turbulent period will be in a better position taking a competitive edge in what is going to be a changing world.


Recruiters have an integral role to play in the post-COVID-19 era. Come to the end of the year, unemployment rates are set to drop to 6.6%, and the recruitment sector will be crucial in assembling the UK workforce and provide a sincere hand in assisting clients in adjusting to the novel way of recruiting, from the integration of new technologies like virtual onboarding and video interviewing to being receptive to remote and flexible workforces.

Recruiters operating in sectors that have seen increased demand like life sciences, pharma, and healthcare are likely to have adopted rapid and serious changes in their operations to assist bolster the fight against the deadly COVID-19 virus. In the long term, we would like to see these markets expanding as the crisis showcases the underwhelming level of investment that has been done. Now the focus has shifted to increasing the number of staff and advancing healthcare technology for future purposes. Recruitment businesses swift to embrace the growing trend of working from your home, have invested in technology, and created a robust framework adaptable to operations are in the best position of supporting and benefiting from future growth.


In a nutshell, just brace yourself, the recruitment sector and nature of employment have altered forever, and if and when recovery happens, it will be a much different world to the one we used to know.

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