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Sector Watch: Where Can UK Contractors Find Work during Covid-19?

Sector Watch: Where Can UK Contractors Find Work during Covid-19?

Last week, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced that the lockdown would be extended for ‘at least’ three weeks, while Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries previously warned that measures could last up to six months. With many businesses putting projects on indefinite hold, contractors may find themselves unable to work in their usual industry.

The good news is that while hiring in certain sectors has temporarily ceased, there’s increased demand in a number of industries as businesses adjust to meet the demands of the pandemic. Although the government have announced a number of support schemes to help protect those who can’t work during the lockdown, many contractors may find that their skills can be utilised in areas that are experiencing temporary high demand.

A recent coronavirus report conducted by IPSE indicated that 74 percent of freelancers felt they were at risk of experiencing contract delays or cancellations, while 60 percent feared they would lose clients. In response to this, 68 percent were planning to use their savings to see them through the crisis, while 40 percent were considering withdrawing money from their business or applying for income support (38 percent).

As project workers, contractors are used to ‘hitting the ground running’ and adapting to various requirements, such as working remotely, working under pressure and problem solving. By searching outside their usual field of work, contractors can benefit from the many short-term rolling contracts on offer across key industries, while also expanding their skills, contacts list and future scope of work. Freedom to move between sectors is also facilitated by the suspension of IR35 reform until next April.

Transportation & Logistics: Transportation and logistics roles are in demand to meet the surge in retail, food, online, and pharmaceutical orders. The logistics of ensuring the continued viability of the supply chain is central to the crisis, and the government has made all those responsible for keeping the air, sea and land freight routes operational during the Covid-19 pandemic critical workers.

Food Retail: The retail industry has seen growth driven by supermarkets announcing major hiring plans. Most food retailers including Asda, Tesco, Morrison’s and Co-op are offering fixed term and temporary contracts with next day starts. Warehouse operatives, shelf stackers and HGV drivers are needed. Jobs website Totaljobs says supermarkets currently dominate the top job searches, with Tesco recruiting more than 35,000 extra people in 10 days in March.

Ecommerce: In response to the current social distancing and lockdown measures, businesses are quickly adapting their models to facilitate an e-commerce offering. Food and parcel delivery companies are relying on interim and temporary support to help manage the current demand, while online platforms like Amazon are experiencing a huge surge in orders and also urgently require staff.

Farming: Despite a recent industry call for a ‘land army of employees’ to support farmers and growers, around 90,000 jobs still need filling so that fresh produce farm produce reaches supermarket shelves to meet demand. A ‘Feed the Nation’ labour campaign has already successfully signed up 10,000 British people to help pick fruit and vegetables on farms across the UK. Workers will receive 3 weeks of paid training, free insurance, and most farms are paying National Living Wage or more.

Call workers: Virgin Media is creating 500 new UK call centre jobs. The telecoms company says that, like many other businesses, it is “receiving very high customer call volumes and is drafting in extra resources to help answer the phones”. The roles, which are being advertised on both a permanent and fixed-term basis, are based in Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester and Teeside.

Tech: The tech industry has been hit hard by Covid-19, with many start-ups having to cancel projects. However, tech giants such as Apple, Google, and Inc and Facebook are looking for software program engineers, data scientists as covid-19 spikes utilisation. Online Logistics, Cybersecurity & Analytics is also set to expand as supply chain managers turn to the Internet of Things, analytics and machine learning to gain insight into their markets.

Healthcare: To cope with urgent demand, the NHS are asking doctors, nurses and midwives who may have recently retired, switched to a non-clinical role, or moved into private practice to return to the service. In addition to frontline workers, they also need people with transferrable skills such as scientists, academics and lab technicians. Home caseworkers are urgently in demand, while Chemists like Lloyds Pharmacy are currently looking to recruit 1,500 workers.

Recruitment advisors are asking applicants to consider that some of these jobs could bring them into contact with thousands of people on a daily basis. Therefore, those who are vulnerable, or who have vulnerable family members, should consider their safety first.

Could you help in the fight against coronavirus? If you are returning to work on a temporary contract, Contracting Scout can assist with the administration of your billing and invoicing requirements to ensure you are set up quickly and paid promptly. To talk to a member of our team, call:  0203 603 1878