The sectors hiring in 2020 despite the coronavirus crisis

Tom Belger
·Finance and policy reporter
·4 min read
A Hermes delivery courier carries boxes as he makes a delivery to 10 Downing Street, the official residence of Britain's Prime Minister, in central London on May 5, 2020. - Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson's fiancee, Carrie Symonds, announced on May 2 that they had named their newborn son after their grandfathers and the hospital doctors who treated the British prime minister for COVID-19. The couple are the first unmarried couple to officially live together in Downing Street and the baby is the third to be born to a serving British prime minister in recent history. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
A courier on his way to 10 Downing Street, as figures show the sectors hiring most in 2020. Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images.

The coronavirus crisis has sparked record redundancies, the biggest fall in employment in a decade and dwindling vacancy numbers.

But COVID-19, lockdowns, remote working and other changes sparked by the pandemic have also fuelled job creation in certain sectors, and some industries have proved resilient.

Here are some of the industries where hiring has held up or seen dramatic growth since Britain first went into lockdown earlier this year.

Loading, stocking and delivery jobs

Parts of the logistics industry have seen enormous growth, as millions more home-bound Brits have made online delivery orders.

“Sectors supporting the stay-at-home economy have been resilient as people are shopping online more,” said Jack Kennedy, UK economist at Indeed.

The jobs site’s figures, shared exclusively with Yahoo Finance UK, show demand for loading and stocking roles such as pickers, packers, forklift drivers and other warehouse staff leaping 320% between May and November. Driving jobs were up 166%.

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A report earlier this month found couriers were the most in-demand job of all in 2020. Employers advertised an average of 188,590 roles a month on jobs site Adzuna between January and November, according to analysis by tech firm Quadrotech.

E-commerce giant Amazon (AMZN) announced in September it would create 7,000 new permanent roles by the end of 2020, on top of 3,000 already created this year.

Supermarkets have also been on a hiring spree, meeting soaring in-store and delivery demand during lockdowns as well as covering staff absences. Leading grocers had announced 136,000 new roles by August alone, according to Yahoo Finance UK analysis earlier this year.

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Health and care roles

Indeed’s data suggests hiring in almost every sector including logistics remains lower than a year ago, despite the soaring growth its figures show some industries have seen since May.

“The only occupation showing year-on-year growth is medical technicians, where job postings are up 29%,” said Kennedy. The category includes multiple roles, from paramedics to disability assessors to X-ray technicians.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many health and social care jobs have been “among the most resilient performers during this pandemic year,” he added.

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Hiring has held up far more than most industries for physicians and surgeons, registrars, medical writers, healthcare advisers and nurses, as well as in care and social work.

LinkedIn data suggests healthcare has seen more recruitment overall than any other industry, as well as seeing the lowest drop-off between April and September.

There have been calls by think tanks for the government to further ramp up hiring in social care, helping to both alleviate rising unemployment and tackle unmet need in a sector facing staff shortages.

Manufacturing jobs

The revival seen by parts of the manufacturing sector in Britain and across the world amid a global pandemic has surprised economic analysts.

A leading industry survey in December showed a sixth successive month of rebounding trade for most UK factories, after activity plummeted to its lowest in decades during the first nationwide lockdown.

The purchasing managers’ index showed headcount declining for a 10th month in a row and some sub-sectors are struggling, but the overall picture is stronger than for services firms that make up most of Britain’s economy.

Indeed figures show production and manufacturing job adverts up 166% since May, and down only 17% year-on-year.

By contrast, roles slumped by more than a quarter compared to a year earlier in agriculture, property, and security, and more than 50% in hospitality, tourism, food and admin roles.

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Tech workers

The radical changes to everyday and working life triggered by the coronavirus crisis are widely seen to have accelerated the adoption of new technologies.

From mass home-working to Zoom quizzes, Google Classroom lessons to virtual GP consultations, many tech-focused firms, workers and skills have been in high demand.

Software developers were the 10th most in-demand role on Adzuna in 2020, according to Quadrotech’s report, with an average of 20,152 vacancies a month.

The organisations with the highest average monthly number of vacancies for remote roles in 2020, according to Quadrotech analysis of Adzuna jobs site listings. Chart: Quadrotech.
The organisations with the highest average monthly number of vacancies for remote roles in 2020, according to Quadrotech analysis of Adzuna jobs site listings. Chart: Quadrotech.

Facebook (FB), Microsoft (MSFT), Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOGL) and Deliveroo were also among the top 10 firms reported to have advertised the most UK remote vacancies a month over the past month.

Meanwhile software developers were also the 10th most in-demand role, with an average of 20,152 vacancies a month.

The report said: “With the rapid shift to remote work this year it's not surprising to see tech companies thriving.”

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