By Kristy Dorsey

The fall in demand for staff across Scotland may have bottomed out in May, driven by a surge in demand in the health, social care and education sectors.

According to figures from recruitment website S1jobs, there were 25,000 vacancies advertised online across Scotland last month, a rise of 33 per cent from April. Of the 26 sectors tracked, all but four recorded a month-on-month increase, with the hospitality, sports and entertainment, retail and legal sectors posting declines.

However, compared to a year earlier, the number of vacancies was down by 67%.


Gavin Mochan, commercial director at S1, said this reflected the magnitude of the destruction caused by the pandemic.

“It is quite a significant rise compared to April, so there is reason for some optimism,” he said.

“But we have got the summer months to come, and we do not know how that is going to play out.

“That’s a traditionally slower period, with many people on holiday, but I suppose one question is whether most will be taking a break this summer.”

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The UK as a whole saw 585,000 jobs advertised during May, down 65% year-on-year. That was marginally better than than Scotland’s annual decline, though the UK’s monthly rebound of 26% was more sluggish than that in Scotland.

Although that might seem surprising, given that England eased lockdown restrictions earlier than in Scotland, Mr Mochan said it could partially be explained by the fact UK hiring demand did not fall as steeply as that in Scotland in the first instance.

Education led the way with a 97% increase in vacancies month-on-month, driven by the cyclical nature of hiring in that market.

This was followed by health and social care, where vacancies were up 30% compared to April.

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Mr Mochan said one possible answer for the latter sector, where recruiting was a challenge even prior to the pandemic, could lie in tapping workers from Scotland’s decimated catering, hospitality and retail industries.

Rachel Payne, managing director of Bandrum Nursing Home in Dunfermline, said there are lots of retraining opportunities for candidates who see social care as their vocation. The challenge now is to reach a care home cost model that reflects the true value of these professionals.

“It is now more important than ever for us as a nation to value the care of our vulnerable by society and government choosing to pay the true cost of care to both independent sectors and charity, as well as the local authority,” she said.