This is the second of a series of bulletins produced by ISE to update members on key data and policy on COVID-19. This covers the period 30/03/2020 – 05/04/2020. You can view Bulletin #1 on the ISE website.
Policy and government
The government have struggled to keep up with the speed of the outbreak. The Health Secretary conceded that mistakes have been made and promised to increase the volume of testing. Discussions have also begun about tightening the lockdown to ensure that it is observed.
New Labour leader Kier Starmer promises ‘scrutiny’ and ‘constructive engagement’ on the government’s handling of the crisis.
Opinion polling suggests that while 79% of people are concerned about COVID-19, 70% of them believe that the government is doing a good job.
Ofqual had announced the arrangements for the awarding of GSCEs and A levels. Schools and colleges will be asked to provide data (based largely on teacher judgements) on which the qualifications and grades will be awarded.
The government considers introducing number controls on universities recruitment of students to create more stability for the next academic year.
Concerns about a recession are growing. The Centre for Economics and Business Research forecast that coronavirus will cut UK economic output by 15%. Professor Pushan Dutt describes the economic impacts of coronavirus as ‘staggering’.
There were almost a million new claims for universal benefit in the last two weeks of March. While not all of these claimants are unemployed, this is a strong indicator of growth in the level of unemployment.
EMSI provide make essential data on the current number of vacancies in the labour market available through their COVID-19 dashboard. EMSI also delivered a webinar on this data.
Based on discussion in ISE’s employer virtual town halls and correspondence with employers over the last week.
Most Easter placement schemes and some summer placement schemes have been cancelled. In other cases, employers are seeking to shorten placements, move them online or to offer alternative online experiences to the students who were due to take part.
Where employers have had to furlough large numbers of staff recruitment has been paused. Many are hoping to restart recruitment in June/July for September starts, but this will have to wait.
The hiring of apprentices has been disrupted by the issues faced by apprenticeship training providers during the crisis. Employers would like more information from training providers on how best to manage the crisis.
Many employers have successfully transferred their recruitment and selection processes online. Many have already shifted to virtual assessment centres, although they are continuing to develop and evolve these new processes.
A key area of development has been the management of online group activities. Many employers are now using Zoom and similar tools to conduct group activities online. This requires careful management e.g. it needs two recruiters with one focused on technical issues and the other on running the group. The ground rules have to be carefully set and candidates may need encouragement to share video. Some are offering a practice call in advance. At the moment most are working with breakout groups of around six.
A key concern has been to continue to engage with those students who have already been hired in ‘keep warm’ activities such as the sending of newsletters or establishing online communities. Students are understandably concerned and are seeking reassurance that they still have a job offer.
Most employers are still hoping to start a new cohort of recruits in September. While some have revised numbers downwards, others are seeking to maintain flexibility by delaying the issuing of formal contracts.
Some employers are contingency planning to induct new staff virtually in September, but others remain sceptical of this and plan to delay start dates to later in the year or early next year.
Very useful to see the state of the market right now from the ISE perspective. Thank you. With hundreds of clients, large and small across all sectors, the GRB team have spoken with all of them in the last few weeks. The majority are either committed to onboarding those due to start immediately OR postponing recruitment until the Autumn, which mirrors what ISE has observed. The concern is the perception among students and graduates at this time. From experience of previous downturns, maintaining regular and personal communications with the students, graduates and Universities is paramount to avoid the shortages in the talent pipeline.