State of the Scottish recruitment market


If you’re due to leave the Armed Forces soon, you may be second guessing your decision. Headlines about impending recessions, hiring freezes and GDP slumps are, unsurprisingly, providing a bleak picture about the Scottish recruitment market. We’d be lying if we said recruitment wasn’t challenging and it is certainly a different market compared to 3 months ago.

Online job postings have declined by 80% over recent weeks. This is matched by survey results indicating that 82% of organisations expect external hiring to decline over Q2 of 2020.

Within Scotland, around 1/5 of the Scottish workforce have been furloughed. There are warnings that Scottish GDP will shrink by 12% over 2020. We have seen a decline in permanent jobs over the past few months, as well as temp requests. However, the latter has not had such a severe decline. Another blow to the Scottish economy is that one of its major industries, oil & gas, has had it’s 3rd major challenge in 12 years. 12 months ago the oil price was around $70 per barrel whereas as at 15th May 2020, it has been hovering around $30 a barrel. At one point in April, it dropped as low as $19 per barrel. Unfortunately, the North Sea has been expensive to operate in for several years. So a low oil price makes operations in the North Sea economically un-viable.

Good news

However, there are several positive stories to take heart from.

Firstly, the furlough scheme has been brilliant. It has prevented redundancies which means that many people who would otherwise have been unemployed are still receiving monies close to what they used to have. So people are more comfortable spending which will lessen the wider economic impact of the virus. Moreover, it means that the recruitment market has not been flooded with candidates at a time of low demand. This means that salaries will not be as dampened as could have happened. It also means that there will not be as much competition for new roles that do come up.

The financial services sector, which is dominant in Scotland’s central belt, has not been massively affected by the pandemic. The Government has channelled many of the support loans through the banks. Plus, many organisations in the sector were already adopting increased remote working practices. Scotland also has a strong service sector which will be quick to restart once businesses can open their doors again.

One of the largest sectors for employment in Scotland is the health and social care sector. Whilst many individuals will be paid through the public sector in these industries, these are very busy industries currently.

Finally, the tech sector which has been growing quickly in Scotland is also seeing an increase in demand for services, perhaps unsurprisingly. 71% said headcount would remain and 1/4 expect headcount to increase.

Be aware

If you are job hunting though, be aware that online job boards are reopening previously archived jobs. This helps them to make their platforms look busy and fresh. Be very thorough when looking through online job adverts to ensure the organisation is genuinely still recruiting. A phone call or email to them may save hours of unnecessary work.

So what does this mean for you?

Over the rest of 2020, we are likely to see further uses of short temporary contracts and fixed term contracts as organisations are reluctant to commit to permanent roles amidst such uncertainty. What this means is that you will have the opportunity to try roles and industries that you many not have previously considered.

There are also many opportunities to improve your knowledge and skills through online learning. Many providers have moved their traditional face to face offerings online. Also, many learning providers, including the Open University and Google, are offering some training for free. Ways of working, job roles and “normal” will be different when we finally have established coping mechanisms for dealing with this virus. So now is the time to up-skill and help ensure you remain valuable to a current or future employer.

If you are already in civilian employment, you will see that internal redeployment will be the preferred method for filling new roles or achieving organisational objectives. Make sure you communicate any interests you have in other areas of your employers operations. When/if opportunities arise, you will be spoken to about it.