Covid-19: Which Industries are Hiring Contractors?

17th April, 2020
By 17. April 2020COVID-19, News
Covid-19: Which Industries are Hiring Contractors?

Many companies are in the midst of a hiring freeze due to the impact of Covid-19. While this will affect demand for both permeant and temporary candidates, contractors may find themselves vulnerable to first-stage hiring cuts as projects are cancelled or indefinitely suspended in many sectors. While sectors such as travel, leisure and recreation have all but ceased operations, other sectors are experiencing a sustained or increased demand. Given that the crisis situation is temporary, it makes sense that many contractors who find themselves unable to work in their usual field due to Covid-19 may be able to transfer their skills to a sector experiencing temporary high demand. For this reason, the postponement of the IR35 reform in the private sector until April 2021 will be a huge relief to companies at this time.

LinkedIn’s Negatively Impacted Industries – with hiring below national average of -15

  • Recreation & Travel: -47.1%
  • Entertainment -25.8%
  • Corporate Services -15.4%

Contractors are likely to have specific skills and attributes that are valuable across many industries in the current climate. Project managers, for example, will be used to quickly organising and mobilising resources within tight deadlines. While there are various schemes and grants available from the government to protect freelancers who can’t work due to Covid-19, some contractors may find that they are financially better off taking a wider view of the market.  With the government extending the lockdown for a further three weeks, many contractors may benefit from the short-term rolling contracts on offer across key industries. Here we take and overview of the market and look at the industries that that are most likely to be hiring contingent workers.

IPSE Freelancer Report Stats indicate percentage of freelancers who are:

  • at risk of experiencing contract delays or cancellations (74%)
  • using all or most of their savings (68%)
  • losing clients (60%)
  • considering to registering for income support (38%)
  • withdrawing money from their businesses (40%)
  • experiencing decreased demand (53%)
  • experiencing unchanged demand (19%)
  • reporting that demand has increased (7%)

According to combined market analysis, the following industries have the highest hiring increases compared to this time last year. These industries are central to the pandemic response as businesses shift to new working models with temporary contract staff in specific demand.

Transportation & Logistics: +6.9%

According to LinkedIn data, the hiring rate at the end of March in the transportation and logistics industry was 6.9% higher than at the same point last year. Retail, food, online, and pharmaceutical industries are just a number of sectors that are under increasing pressure due to increased demand. The logistics of ensuring that orders are fulfilled on time is increasingly difficult due to panic buying, supplier issues, border restrictions, and reduced workforces. However, the continued success of the supply chain is critical to the country’s economic performance and the fight against Covid-19. The Government has stated that all those involved in keeping the keep the freight transport modes operational during the Covid-19 response are critical workers.

Retail: +2.2% 

Although high-street retailers have been hit hard by the pandemic, the retail industry has seen small overall growth driven by a number of supermarkets announcing major hiring plans. In response to the current social distancing and lockdown measures in place, businesses are urgently shifting their models to facilitate an e-commerce offering. Food and parcel delivery companies are relying on interim and temporary support to help manage the current stresses, rather than hiring in permanent staff.  Extra hands will be used to keep shelves stocked, provide home delivery services and assist vulnerable customers.

Most food retailers including Asda and Tesco are offering fixed term and temporary contracts with next day starts. Warehouse operatives and HGV drivers are needed on a 4-week rolling contract and those who are interested should phone their local depot. Morrisons also announced that its creating 3,500 new jobs in the UK to help with the current scale of home delivery demand, and Co-op has created 5,000 new jobs for people who have lost work amid the coronavirus crisis.

Farming & Agriculture (high)

Despite panic food-hoarding, there’s no shortage of produce in the UK. In fact, the cancellation of major events along with the closure of restaurants and schools means that there’s a food surplus. The issue is getting the fresh produce from the fields to supermarket shelves to meet demand.

A ‘Feed the Nation’ labour campaign has already successfully signed up 10,000 British people to help pick fruit and vegetables on farms across the UK. Despite a recent industry call for a ‘land army of employees’ to support farmers and growers, around 90,000 jobs still need filling. The initiative is being spearheaded by charity Concordia. Workers will receive 3 weeks of paid training, with many farms paying National Living Wage or more (£8.72 for over 25s). Every job comes with free insurance for all participants which includes travel, health and dental cover.

Software & IT: Between -2% and -5% 

Software & IT have faced major challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic, but have managed to weather some of the changes. Because of the diversity of the tech sector, this industry has seen a smaller overall drop in hiring. Software and IT have, on the whole, been more able to transition their workforces into remote roles. However, the IT services industry will be hit due to existing projects being cancelled or running into difficulties while clients are locked down. There could also be a long-term impact as companies scale back spending to project 2020 profits.

Hardware & Networking: +5.6% 

Hardware & Networking businesses are supporting the shift to remote work and these services have seen an increase in hiring rates. These include telecommunications, internet and broadband providers where there is increased demand.

Online Logistics, Cybersecurity & Analytics (Growing)

This tech area is set to expand as supply chain managers to turn to Internet of Things data, analytics and machine learning. These tools will become the foundation on which supply chain managers gain insight into their markets and supply/demand trends. Experts say that coronavirus will ultimately force supply chain management practice forward in the use of technologies that companies have been forestalling, but that are now central to supply chain success and risk management.

Tech & Manufacturing (Limited)

As many plants and factories have closed, the UKs manufacturing industry has gone into hibernation. However, there is activity in certain pockets involved in supplying frontline services. The government has pledged £20m for ambitious technologies to build UK resilience following the outbreak of the virus. The call-out urges British businesses across key industries to find new ways to support productivity in sectors ranging from delivery services, food manufacturing, retail & transport and healthcare. This saw some of the biggest names in UK engineering step up to design and manufacture medical equipment such as rapid production ventilators. Although limited, there may be scope for contractors with specialist skills in these areas to join key research and development projects.

Healthcare: +5.4% 

The healthcare industry has shown significant hiring growth to cope with the increased pressure on the healthcare system, from treating patients to meeting the need for new equipment to tackle the virus. In addition to the billions of pounds of extra funding pledged by the government, there’s also a critical need for those with the right skills to come forward.

The NHS are asking doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and clinical technicians who may have recently retired, switched to a non-clinical role, or moved into private practice to return to the service. Almost 12,000 recently retired NHS staff have already responded, including some 2,660 doctors, 2,500 pharmacists and 6,147 nurses.

Although the NHS is in need of frontline medical workers, they’re also looking for people with transferrable skills such as scientists, academics and lab technicians who will be granted temporary permits to carry out certain roles during the covid-19 pandemic. This forms part of a new 5-pillar plan, bringing together government, industry, academia and the NHS among others to increase testing for the virus and for antibodies.

Recent hiring rate data shows that nationally – and across all industries – hiring growth in the UK has slowed since public health interventions were announced in March. Based on the hiring patterns in China and Italy, hiring growth in the UK will accelerate its decline in the coming days. However, the data shows that the hiring rate has already started to improve in China, after the country’s containment efforts saw progress in stemming the spread of Covid-19. 

ContractingWISE has a range of options to help you keep your contracting career on track, including setting up or reopening a limited company, or finding an umbrella company to suit your needs. To talk to a member of our team, call: 0203 642 8679

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