The report focuses on how businesses have been impacted by Covid-19 and the significant employment and recruitment challenges they have faced as well considering how the future of work has changed as a result of the pandemic.
2020 has been a difficult year for businesses within Herefordshire and Worcestershire, with challenges such as Covid-19 and EU Exit. However, the economic support package provided by the government helped alleviate some of the financial pressures businesses have faced throughout this year.
Unemployment has risen due to Covid-19 with many businesses making staff redundant. The ONS released unemployment figures for December 2020 which show redundancies reached a record high of 370,000 in the three months to October 2020, an increase of a record 217,000 on the quarter, although the number of redundancies fell slightly in October 2020. (Labour market overview, UK - Office for National Statistics, 2020). These figures remain a stark warning for how Covid-19 has impacted businesses during this year, although the extension of the furlough scheme now until April 2021, will help save mass redundancies but will certainly come at a cost of increasing public debt.
On a more positive note, we found that 28% of businesses plan to use the Kickstart Scheme to employ young people and 19% of businesses plan to use traineeship funding. The government introduction of the Kickstart Scheme has helped businesses employ young people who are at considerable risk of not being able to find work because of the pandemic. This will enable young people to be able to develop their skills and become future leaders and managers of professional organisations.
As Covid-19 forced Britain into national lockdown in March 2020, companies had to adjust their operations to continue work. This led to more companies encouraging employees to work from home which increased remote working and caused offices to shut. Remote working was the ‘new normal’ with millions of people working from home overnight, however, firms did face significant IT and financial challenges to move operations within a short period of time. 78% of businesses who could work remotely experienced at least one benefit of remote working, and some businesses hope to continue looking for a balance between office and remote working to allow for a better work life balance.
No doubt, businesses across the two counties have experienced significant challenges this year due to Covid-19 and EU Exit, however we remain hopeful 2021 will serve better opportunities and help us kickstart the local economy for business to prosper and achieve growth.