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How Has Employer Demand for Occupations Changed During Each Lockdown?

Shedding Light on the Labour Market

In this week’s Shedding Light on the Labour Market, we take a look at the changing demand for occupations over the last year, and in particular which occupations have seen the strongest demand throughout the period of disruption, which have seen a slump in demand throughout, and which are bouncing back fastest.

To do this, we are using our Job Posting Analytics (JPA) to look at employer demand at the 2-digit Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) level. What we have done is to take the total number of job postings for these occupations during the first Lockdown period from March to June, as well as the total number of job postings during the second and third Lockdown periods from November to February, and then compared both periods with the equivalent four-month periods in the previous year, to give us year-on-year change in demand. This gives us two metrics: year-on-year change during the first Lockdown period and year-on-year change during the period of the second and third.

In the chart below, we have plotted these metrics out, with year-on-year change for the first Lockdown 1 on the X axis, and year-on-year change for the second and third Lockdowns on the Y axis. What you can see is that during the first Lockdown, demand for all 2-digit SOC occupations fell, with those on the right-hand side falling the least, and those on the left-hand side falling the most. During the second and third Lockdowns, some occupations grew year-on-year (those towards the top of the chart), although most still showed a decline, with those showing the biggest declines underneath the horizontal line. For added context we have split the occupations into four categories — High Skilled, Medium Skilled, Service Oriented and Labour Intensive — and sized each occupation according to its total workforce at the start of 2020 (you can hover your cursor over each dot to get more details of the occupation).

The occupations in the top right quadrant are those where demand has been the strongest throughout, and as you can see this is dominated by high-skilled occupations, particularly Health Professionals; Health and Social Care Associate Professionals; and Protective Service Occupations. There are a couple of outliers, which are Caring Personal Service, and Skilled Agricultural & Related Trades, which are Service Oriented and Middle Skilled occupations respectively.

The occupations on the top left quadrant are those that slumped during the first lockdown, but which have seen a bounce back in recent months. Here we see a number of Labour Intensive occupations, such as Elementary Trades; Process, Plant and Machine Operatives; and Transport & Mobile Machine Drivers and Operatives. There are also a couple of Middle Skilled occupations — Skilled Metal, Electrical & Electronic Trades, and Skilled Construction & Building Trades — both of which are associated with the construction sector, which was hit hard by the initial Lockdown, but which then bounced back fairly quickly.

Finally, the occupations in the bottom left quadrant are those that have declined the most during the entire period. Here, unsurprisingly, we see a number of Service Oriented occupations, which are associated with the Retail and Hospitality sectors, such as Leisure, Travel & Related Personal Service; Sales; and Customer Service. But there are also a number of Middle Skilled occupations, including Administrative; Secretarial and Related; and Textiles, Printing and Other Skilled Trades.

In summary, for the most part the occupations where employer demand has been strongest throughout the last year have been those which require higher skill levels; those occupations which have bounced back strongly during the latter two Lockdowns are a mixture of Middle Skill and Labour Intensive; and finally, the occupations that have seen the biggest continued slump in demand are, for the most part, those which are Service Oriented, but also including a number of those which are Middle Skilled.

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