Job listings in Northern Ireland fell by 71 per cent in first month of lockdown, new report suggests

Job listings in April fell 71 per cent, according to a report by Image: Getty
Ryan McAleer

JOB listings in the north fell by more than 70 per cent in April, according to a new report.

The latest analysis from online recruitment platform and Ulster Bank found the number of applications employers here receive for their vacancies has more than doubled in a year.

The application rate per job in the second quarter (Q2) was up 122 per cent on the same period last year.

The e-recruiter’s report revealed that job listings were 71 per cent down in April, compared with the same month last year. One-in-four job categories showed declines of at least 90 per cent.

But NIJobs said there has been signs of tentative recovery, with 17 of 32 job sectors showing an increase in the number of vacancies between May and June.

Jobs ads increased 18 per cent in May and 32 per cent in June. Last month’s listings were 56 per cent up on April.

Healthcare jobs continue to dominate the job market with data and analytics recorded a quarterly rise in listings.

However, the picture remains grim for the hospitality sector with listing down 90 per cent over the quarter.

Ulster Bank’s chief economist Richard Ramsey said the Q2 report had captured the dramatic U-turn in firms’ hiring intentions.

“In recent quarters a slowdown in the economy had led to an easing in job listings from their Q1 2019 peak. But the onset of the pandemic has not surprisingly seen job openings plunge in Q2.

“Those sectors most affected by the lockdown and social distancing restrictions have recorded the steepest declines. For example, the hospitality sector has seen job vacancies plunge by 90 per cent q/q and by close to 95 per cent since Q4 2019. 

"Six categories have witnessed year-on-year declines in excess of 90 per cent. These included hospitality; publishing, media & creative arts; sales; secretarial & admin; science, pharma, agriculture & food; and social, charity & not for profit.

“Only two job categories recorded a quarterly rise in listings in Q2 – nursing, healthcare & medical and big data & analytics. Indeed, the latter posted a record high and outperformed some of the traditional big recruiters such as accountancy and finance. Big data & analytics has seen an eight-fold increase year-on-year (+690%) propelling it into the top 10 recruiters (ranked 4th) for the first time.

“While the latest jobs data shows record declines on a quarterly basis, the monthly data shows signs of a tentative recovery.

“On a sector level, one of the notable improvements is the rise of IT jobs. The IT sector accounted for one-quarter of the monthly rise in listings in June.

“Only three employment categories had more jobs listed in June relative to February (pre-Covid-19). These are nursing, healthcare and medical (+3 per cent), big data and analytics (+26 per cent) and retailing, wholesaling and purchasing (+19 per cent).

“A corner may have been turned on the recruitment front, but the wider labour market is going to get worse before it gets better.”

NIJobs’ general manager, Sam McIlveen said the work environment had changed considerably.

“The big challenge at the moment is managing the sheer number of job applications- over half a million people visited our website in June so it’s clear that the demand for new jobs is there.

“We will shortly be introducing video recruitment technology which will allow businesses to swiftly process applications, shortlist and interview candidates. You can instantly connect with the candidate behind the CV and offer a better candidate experience anytime, anywhere.”

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