Job availability plunges by half in Southampton as COVID-19 presents unique challenges

Vacancies have plunged 50% in Southampton during the first quarter of 2020, with the port city facing unique challenges as a result of COVID-19. That’s according to new research from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), the trade association for the recruitment sector.

The data, provided by business intelligence specialist Vacancysoft – shows that the sharp loss in vacancies across the city is far higher than the regional average of 33.9%.

With the city normally acting as the gateway for the import and export of vehicles, the 97% slump in demand for new cars has meant that the city has been hit harder than most. Additionally, the downturn in the cruise industry has been forecast to result in 5000 job losses and £287 million in wage losses.

However, despite the overall downturn, there were still some bright areas of recruitment in the city. In technology, Q1 hiring volumes are up 26.5% compared to 2019 – with the sector continuing operations remotely with relative success. Financial services has also been affected less than most sectors, with volumes dropping 23%.

Furthermore, some notable organisations have continued recruitment. Investment group Quilter, which has headquarters based in the city, has been the most active recruiter in Q1 2020, while biotechnology firm Novacyt group has upped recruitment of life sciences professionals by 10% in order to supply the government with COVID-19 tests.

Rina Durban, Member Acquisition Manager at APSCo, commented:

“While the data on Southampton’s sharp drop in vacancies is unfortunate, there is some encouragement to be taken from the fact that hiring within technology has risen by over 25% and that financial services professionals continue to be in demand. Despite the unique challenges that the city faces, there will hopefully be an uplift in hiring once lockdown restrictions are eased.”

James Chaplin, CEO of Vacancysoft, commented:

“The rise in demand for technology and continued hiring professionals are bright spots in what are otherwise grim Q1 figures for hiring in Southampton. However, it does show that remote hiring and on boarding is continuing effectively in the city. Furthermore, Novacyt group’s increase in recruitment is a positive sign for life sciences professionals.”

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