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Localising recruitment, and how to navigate the North-South divide

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When it comes to recruitment, location is everything – not just in terms of matching positions with candidates who can actually get to the office in time for the morning meeting, but also with regards to localized expectations across salary, industry style, and culture. 

And that’s not all. You may or may not be surprised at the influence location has on job availability and the PR recruitment market, particularly when it comes to comparing the employment rates across the North and South of England. The internet is packed full of comic articles and memes which explore the vast differences which separate the North and South of England, from house prices to the quality of nightclubs and how much it costs to buy a pint.

But what about when you bring recruitment into the mix?

Navigating the North-South divide

The North of England has, in previous years, been ranked as one of the highest regions for unemployment, particularly when compared with the affluent South of England where London boasts home to some of the nation’s largest and most successful company headquarters and chains. 

However, with Covid-19 shrinking the recruitment market across the UK and creating a form of leveling effect which has essentially put every region in the same boat, one of the biggest things for the recruitment industry moving forward will be on advertising for jobs in sectors that continue to need bolstering and support – for example, NHS services, delivery services – as well as supporting those who make the big move to online.  

An article in the Financial Times sums up the situation matter-of-factly, stating:

In March 2020, before pandemic impacts were visible, cities such as Hull, Birmingham, Blackpool, and Bradford clearly topped the unemployment tables.

But by November 2020, southern towns, such as Crawley and Slough — crippled by reliance on nearby airports — had similar rates. These were also matched in poorer London boroughs such as Newham, Haringey, and Brent.”

What does this mean for the so-called “divide”?

In essence, it means that right now, everyone is in a fairly similar boat, with some industries hit much harder than others regardless of where in the UK they are located. 

For those agencies and recruitment teams looking to get ahead of the curve, one of the best ways to recognize and be able to predict movements is by considering and focussing on the housing market. Those recruitment agencies who understand the housing market will have noticed that individuals are continuing to move away from London and the big cities – instead of seeking more rural homes in locations where they can enjoy a slower lifestyle and more outside space. 

This may not directly affect the job market at first with people continuing to work from home regardless of their location, but it does seem that when offices start to reopen, the way people work is not going to simply flick back to how it was before. 

On top of that, it is no secret that the North of England is the land of the cheaper lifestyle when compared with London and the South. With Covid-19 leaving many individuals financially struggling, and the impending end of the furlough scheme putting even more jobs at risk in the foreseeable future, the chances of more people moving away from the more expensive areas in the South of England are high.  

Is any industry safe?

If you are reading this, have access to the internet, or take in any of the news, you will not have been able to escape the dire situation currently faced by the hospitality sector, which has been forced to close and open again, always under heavy restrictions, consistently over the last year – regardless of location.

But it’s not all doom and gloom for the job market – with some industries and areas of work thriving. And we don’t just mean the NHS and vaccination hubs – though if you are medically trained, these are industries very much in need of new recruits every single day. 

Online marketing, technology companies, and other online services have grown immensely over the last year or so, with the reliance on technology opening up those companies who have been able to respond, to a multitude of opportunities. Not only that but marketing, in particular, has seen a huge shift to online and virtual engagement – and that has opened up new opportunities and new roles for those who can slot into these online spaces and think creatively.

As a marketing and PR recruitment agency, we have been an outlet for many new recruitment drives for agencies and organizations born from the pandemic – and this is set to grow further once the world starts to reopen and PR especially is given a new lease of life. 

The fact is that the pandemic has forced us all to rethink the way we work and the way we interact with our industry and colleagues. It has pushed many to work from home or lose their daily role to furlough or even redundancy, and it has put a spotlight on every region in the UK with regards to how different areas are coping, what the housing market is doing, and what the job and recruitment market is doing. 

The North-South divide has always existed, and not just with regards to our favorite takeaways and drinking habits. The location has a huge effect on the cost of living and the kind of jobs that are available, and while the pandemic has leveled this divide out in many ways with regards to rising unemployment everywhere, the chance of recovery is great once businesses can once again reopen their doors. 

For more on finding your perfect hire, or to make the most of the online shift and locate your perfect job in the Marketing and PR sector, get in touch