Recruitment in 2020, what can we expect?

Author: Paddy Wells


2019 has been an exciting and busy time for the UK recruitment market, which has contributing £35 billion to the UK economy. Our employment rate has been increasing since 2012 and is at 76% overall for 2019 - 80.3% for men and 71.8% for women. Unemployment has also fallen for the sixth consecutive year and investment in recruitment is at an all-time high! So whilst there has been some uncertainty in the job market (Brexit cough cough) there is certainly a lot to be happy about. 

Now whilst it’s great to look back on what a good year 2019 has been for the recruitment industry, what about 2020? Will Brexit leave us all without a job? Will new AI technology make us all redundant? What tax changes are the government making? These are the big changes and the new trends I think we can expect to see next year... 

Let’s start with the one topic I try to avoid writing about, but that is on everyone’s minds, Brexit! It’s been over 3 years since the referendum, the 31st October deadline has come and gone and we are still no closer to knowing when we will leave the EU and what impact it will have. All this uncertainty will naturally make businesses and candidates more cautious about recruiting and being recruited, which could slow the job market down next year 

What Brexit won’t affect though is the “war for talent”. Talented, niche, specialist employees will continue to be needed and with more businesses growing in the UK, these candidates will become even more sought after in 2020. As such, specialist recruiters will no doubt see more demand for their services. 

What’s more we have an election coming up, with each side drawing up very different manifestos. And whilst all parties promise they have the answers, it’s clear to see change is coming whoever is elected and that in turn, will impact the job market.  

As a temporary recruitment specialist I’m hearing more and more discussion around another huge impact that will take place next year - IR35. IR35 is a change to tax on freelancers working via an intermediary and will be by far the largest event to occur in the contracting market for decades. Already, Forward Role are talking to many of our clients about the importance of considering their position on IR35, advising on the steps that they will need to take to determine whether their contractors fall inside or outside. In the run up to the April 2020 deadline these conversations will no doubt continue and we’ll be sharing lots more helpful information about this in the New Year.  

So, with Brexit, the election, tax changes and the ever growing trade war between China and the US, we have a trifecta of issues that could well impact your decision to recruit or be recruited. 

However it’s not all doom and gloom! One market where there has been significant growth throughout 2019 that will continue in 2020, is the tech market. Recent stats show that the UK tech sector has created more unicorn tech companies, valued at more than $1 billion, than any other country expect for the US and China. In addition, more than 1/3 of Europe’s fastest growing tech companies are based in Britain. All of the evidence shows that this growth trend looks to continue throughout 2020 and beyond. 

The number of new technologies coming into the market place is also driving significant growth. We are seeing more digital innovation than ever before with new apps and platforms being launched almost daily! One hot topic is the growth of AI in the recruitment market and what impact that will have. Whilst it is still in its infancy there is no doubt its impact will grow and continue to change and affect the recruitment industry. 

A lot of people ask me if this worries me as a recruiter, will machines make me, my job and my industry redundant? The answer is a resounding no! Whilst AI is getting better at sourcing candidates for generic and mass recruited roles, it is not advanced enough to help with the more niche or bespoke roles with more nuances. All recruiters know that to add value you need to know your market inside out. I can see large generalist recruiters starting to decline but market specialist recruiters who know the landscape of their markets and work with the best candidates out there, will become more valuable than ever. 

So whilst there are plenty of changes coming to the job market in 2020 the outlook is really positive. Forward Role has enjoyed a record breaking year in 2019 and we fully expect to have another in 2020. We will continue to invest in top talent and technology to offer the best possible service to all of our clients and candidates. 

If you’d like to talk through any of the above points or just want a general conversation about your search or the job market, don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

Paddy Wells is Contract Recruitment Lead at Forward Role specialising in marketing and communication roles. He can be found tweeting @forwardrole_pw and on LinkedIn.

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