Thriving? Surviving? COVID-19 impact on industry sectors (1)

Reliable predictions are not available to any of us right now but following our post back in March, we wanted to bring you the latest insights we’ve gleaned across a range of sectors to help you understand the context in which you are planning your future. LinkedIn are monitoring the effects on job postings in the UK and split industries into 3 categories; “responding”, “weathering” and “adversely impacted”. We’ve used these headings to show how different sectors have been affected in different ways.  

In today’s post, writes Alison Parkinson, Employment Engagement Adviser,  we’ll look at  sectors which are weathering the storm.  

LinkedIn defined weathering as industries “that have faced challenges but have managed through some of  changes. These industries have seen a smaller drop in hiring and, on the whole, have been more able to transition their workforces into remote roles. Some industries may have postponed hiring temporarily, but we expect there will be some stabilization as companies transition to remote hiring”.   

Commenting on the graduate labour market, Georgina Brazier from Milkround picks out “education, medical, accounting, IT, engineering and public sector” are amongst the industries continuing to hire.  


The impact on the UK manufacturing sector is expected to be fairly mixed  (IBISWorld Covid19 UK update 20 April 2020) Organisations that make essential products e.g. food, drink, pharmaceuticals and household cleaning products are doing OK- particularly well-known names that enjoy consumer loyalty.  (Did you know that the consumption of chocolate increases in a downturn. Here are some other industries that survived the great depression)  Non-essential manufacturing e.g. clothing and motor vehicles expected to fall. Given the highly globalized nature of car manufacturing IBISWorld expects to see a drop in output (and we assume a corresponding drop in hiring over 2020). Seeing some well publicised examples of firms repurposing their operations to manufacture medical equipment e.g. as part of Ventilator Challenge UK consortium. 

Construction/Civil Engineering 

Even though housing construction is likely to be hit, infrastructure investment has continued which should benefit civil and electrical engineers, e.g. £600bn of large-scale infrastructure projects were given the green light in the March budget, including investment in roads, mobile phone network and flood defencesGovernment also approved HS2 Rail project. 


Aside from the obvious working on medical devices, New Electronics reports that other businesses are seeing an increase in demand for their products or services include “remote monitoring electronic devices that allow companies to continue working during the lockdown. Additionally, tracking and logistics are busier than ever, and food packaging companies are barely able to keep up with increased demand”.  

Charities/Third Sector 

Target jobs noted that “The charity sector initially suffered badly as a result of lockdown measures, with many being unable to operate on normal terms without the support of volunteers and donations. The BBC reported that, at the end of March, Oxfam and Age UK had already placed 70% of their staff on ‘furlough’. However, in the weeks since, the UK government has announced that £750m will be made available to ‘frontline’ charities during the pandemic”Social Enterprise Scotland have issued a report on the sector showing lots of variation geographically, by size and by industry with larger organisations moving quickest to furlough staff. Many third sector organisations have seen a loss of trading income and increase in demand for services and so may be short-staffed at present and looking for temporary volunteers to keep going.  

Financial Services/Banking/Professional Services 

Based on the type of organisations who are telling us they are still actively recruiting and have graduate opportunities, these sectors seem to be faring OK. IBISWorld listed finance as one of the most affected UK sectors (particularly those managing financial assets e.g. pension funds and insurance companies). Like the technology sector in general, Fintech may weather the storm. Fintech Scotland provides the latest local picture. Depending on their client base, consultancies have the capacity to continue operations remotely and so not surprising that again the message to us on recruitment has been more or less business as usual.  


Teaching is one of the sectors we have seen lots of media coverage about, with school teachers classed as frontline workers.  Some working from home to support their students via various distance learning methods, and others still in schools providing care for the children of other keyworkers.  There has been a lot of concern about the wide -ranging effects of school closures on children and worry about widening the attainment gap.  Teaching as a profession seems to be being valued more, and the message emerging is that teachers will be in high demand as we emerge into the new normal and will have a significant role to play in healing our society.  Some teaching recruiters are reporting an increase in applications – which may be down to teaching being viewed as a safe and stable choice for graduates; teaching has historically fared well in times of recession, but could also be due to people looking for a way to give back to society.  There have been calls for graduates to consider volunteering to support this effort too. We know that many students and graduates dip their toe in the water with teaching through summer teaching overseas experiences – this option is of course restricted for the foreseeable future.The University is not permitting travel for placements, field trips and summer schools due to depart before 1st August.  In line with this, we are not advertising opportunities which require travel before 1st August. As there will be fewer chances to teach English overseas, we speculate that there could be a growth in online English teaching roles.    

Creative & Cultural  

Some areas, like arts and heritage are reliant on audience income and have had to close at present. But there are still lots of chances to engage with the industry – and as we know this is often the key to finding hidden jobs and opportunities.  If you are keen to work in the Creative Industries, the best thing you can do just now is engage – in whatever way works for you. Creative Edinburgh along with Creative Mornings and many other industry networks have moved their usual events online. 

Watch out for our next post where we look at those sectors which are more adversely affected.  

(Image by kmicican on Pixabay)

(Image by kmicican on Pixabay)

(Image by kmicican on Pixabay)

(Image by kmicican on Pixabay)


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