Recruitment in review – 2020 and 2021

Last Updated on Friday, 7 May, 2021 at 9:40 am by Andre Camilleri

Robert J. Sultana is general manager at VacancyCentre (VC), a brand owned by and forms part of CSB Group.

In early 2020, Covid-19 swept the globe and changed all normalcy overnight.

With new lockdown regulations and guidelines put into place, industries suffered tremendous losses – with some companies even closing their doors for good. Due to worsening economies and rising unemployment, the recruitment sector was forced to pivot.

The dynamics of the recruitment industry are still changing due to the events in 2020. The year 2021 brings a bit more normalcy than what we previously faced, though recruiters are still adapting to meet the new realities and requirements of both companies and individuals.

So, what was the state of the recruitment sector in 2020, and how will it transform and translate throughout this year?

Covid-19 Crisis: The fall

To understand where the recruitment industry is heading, we must first understand the origins of how we got here. The first Covid-19 case was confirmed on 8 December 2019 in Wuhan, China. With the virus rapidly spreading, Wuhan went into lockdown on 23 January 2020. The first European Covid-19 case was confirmed in France on 24 January 2020. The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Covid-19 as a public health emergency of international concern on 30 January 2020, thereafter declaring it to be a global pandemic on 11 March 2020. Various European countries started their own lockdown procedures – demanding social distancing rules, stay-at-home procedures, business shutdowns and travel restrictions.

On 26 March 2020, Malta issued its first country-wide lockdown for people over 65 and people with pre-existing health conditions. These lockdowns were projected to only last a few weeks while we all fought to contain the virus. Lockdowns heavily impacted businesses across many industries, bringing lost business for some and revenue opportunities to others. Regardless of the soar or decline in service demand, companies had to adapt and innovate – while minimising costs to safeguard their business going concern.

Covid-19 crisis: The bumpy road ahead

The world of recruiting literally changed overnight in March 2020. Almost every prediction industry leaders held for the 2020 recruitment sector became obsolete. Unemployment was rising internationally at alarming rates. Covid-19 forced some industries to cut spending and lose employees, while others saw a soar in demand for their business.

According to S&P Global, the industries most affected by the pandemic were airlines, leisure activities, oil and gas drilling, auto parts and equipment and restaurants. The industries least affected were specialised REITs, property & casualty insurance, multi-line insurance, life & health insurance and industrial REITs.

Shifting priorities

Restructuring of employee benefits was a trend that was on the rise throughout the entire pandemic. As the workforce transitioned to remote working, companies had to re-evaluate what they were offering their employees for the year. Promises for gym memberships and catered lunches had to be quickly swapped to flexible remote working, at-home internet payments and communication tools to ease workflows.

Most corporate businesses that were able to stay afloat shifted their entire workforce to remote working and hiring managers and human resource professionals had to adapt to a new norm to hold online interviews as opposed to the more traditional face-to-face approaches. Remote working quickly rose to become the top benefit employees look for when searching for their future employer. While the safety measures from the pandemic directly triggered this trend, it has now shifted to become the preferred work structure of employees and companies. Most companies are developing work-from-home policies that will allow employees to continue working remotely post-pandemic.

Looking ahead: Staffing firms in 2021

According to the World Employment Confederation, the staffing market is recovering quicker from the pandemic-led economic crash than it did during the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. However, the decline was deeper in 2020 than it was in 2009. Staffing firms are responding by adapting, leveraging on technology and readjusting focuses, while communicating and engaging more with top talent.

VacancyCentre (VC) understands the importance of focus, cognisant of the fact that increasingly clients want to contract recruiting firms which best understand their business model and requirements. This is why VC has repositioned its approach to service niche disciplines within Finance, Compliance & Technology, thus ensuring best tailored talent solutions for specific job requirements.

In spite of the past months disruptions, overall, the recruitment industry has observed that competition for top talent remains fiercely contended. The past quarter, in particular, has showed encouraging signs with employment gradually picking up. While the market is still buoyant, a faster vaccine roll-out, coupled with a decreasing number of cases, will certainly offer more reassurances towards a return to normality.

The future of recruiting is looking optimistic. While 2020 presented many challenges for the industry, more companies are looking to expand their workforce. By taking a unique approach to curtail extra overheads, sifting through talent pools and closely adhering to a long-term repositioning strategy – recruiters can continue to match companies to the best talent to help them regrow their businesses.

To learn more about the VC talent solutions send an email on:

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