This article was written for Careermag for Graduates — the magazine aimed at providing graduates with the information they need to help them make well-informed decisions on their career.
It comes as no surprise that employer hiring activity fell by an unprecedented amount during the first Lockdown. Thousands of businesses closed and were then forced to radically adjust their working practices to reopen. Yet despite this, online job postings activity has since picked up and – despite a blip at the beginning of the year – is now almost back at pre Lockdown levels.
Looking at graduate level occupations, which we define as those broadly found within the Office for National Statistics’ 1-3 digit level Standard Occupation Classifications (SOC), we find that the trend for online postings follows roughly the same pattern as that for all occupations – a huge slump in demand between March and June 2020 (24% decrease), followed by a slow but consistent increase for most of the rest of the year. Despite a slump at the start of the third Lockdown, demand is now reaching similar levels to those seen before the Covid-19 crisis hit.
But where is this demand being seen? Digging into the details of graduate-level occupations, our data shows that just 26 of the 172 1-3 digit occupations showed higher demand in April 2021 than March 2020, and of these, the three showing the fastest growth are Civil Engineers (mentioned in 34.32% more job postings in April 2021 than March 2020); Social Workers (30.14%); and Programmers and Software Development Professionals (26.95%).
We can also get a more detailed picture of demand by looking at the actual job titles employers are hiring for, as well as the top skills they are currently seeking. For instance, the 27 job titles that saw higher employer demand in April 2021 than March 2020 are dominated by digital and tech roles, such as DevOps Engineers (58.8% growth); Software Engineers (35.1%); Full Stack Developers (34.0%); PHP Developers (12.5%); and Front End Developers (10.9%). There are also hints of demand increasing for roles that may be linked to the effects of Lockdown, including 24% growth in demand for Children’s Social Workers; Speech Language Therapists (13.1%); and Mental Health Nurses (10.6%).
As for skills, again we can see the demand for digital coming through in the data. For instance, from March 2020 to April 2021 there was an increase in demand for skills such as Cyber Security (89.1%); Software as a Service (SaaS) (62.2%); and Microsoft Azure (57.4%). As with job titles, we can also see some of the indirect effects of Lockdown in the data. For example, demand for Digital Marketing grew by 36.8%, which probably reflects the fact that companies had to up their online presence to reach customers and potential customers.
In summary, demand for graduate level positions and skills was clearly affected by the restrictions put in place due to Covid-19. However, that huge drop in employer demand has since been followed by sustained growth, largely driven by digital and tech jobs and skills, but also by demand for jobs and skills that are highly likely to be connected to some of the consequences the Lockdown period has produced.
Contact us to find out more about demand for graduate jobs and skills in your area.