Unemployment is at a 5 year high - practical advice if you're currently job hunting

Wednesday, 27th January 2021, 9:52 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th January 2021, 9:53 am
Unemployment is at a 5 year high - practical advice if you're currently job hunting (Photo: Shutterstock)

More people are out of work than at any time in the last five years, according to recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Unemployment levels are now at five per cent across the UK, and the most recent figures show that more people were made redundant in the three months to November than in any period since the financial crash.

The economy has been rocked by the pandemic. Responding to the latest figures chancellor Rishi Sunak said, “Every job lost as a result is a tragedy.”

What should I do if I’ve lost my job?

Losing employment is a difficult thing to go through, particularly in the middle of a pandemic, but support does exist, whether it’s advice, resources or financial aid.

If you are out of work, you should check your eligibility for welfare benefits, particularly as you could be entitled to a higher rate of Jobseekers Allowance if you’ve made sufficient National Insurance contributions through your wages recently.

Turn2Us, a charity that helps people living in financial hardship, recommends the following tips as a priority:

  • Income maximisation, this includes things like:- Checking the benefits you are entitled to. Around £18 billion of benefits are unclaimed every year. You can use this benefits calculator to find out what you are entitled to- Finding out if you are eligible for a charitable grant which you don't have to pay back, you can use this Grants Search
  • Reduction in expenditure, including:- Swapping energy deals- Cancelling unnecessary direct debits
  • Seeking advice:- You can find your nearest advisor by using this tool

Websites like Turn2Us and Citizen’s Advice have a lot of resources and information for people dealing with financial issues, or who have lost their job.

You might also want to get involved with organisations that campaign for more support for unemployed people, such as the Unemployed Workers Movement.

What about finding new work?

While it can be difficult to find a new job during a pandemic, largely because many organisations have put hiring on hold or aren’t currently operating at full capacity, there are some sectors seeing an increased need for workers.

Though catering, events and retail roles are extremely few on the ground, sectors like logistics and telephone-based customer service still provide a significant number of opportunities.

More and more roles are able to be done remotely from home, which can mean more options for people who live away from major towns and cities.

Temporary work through apps like Deliveroo, Stuart and Uber can offer a temporary solution and provide a way to make some money in a flexible way, although some app-based workers report issues with relatively low payment and poor working conditions.

For some people it could also be an opportune moment to try and train or retrain for a new career.

Industries like education and healthcare, as well as law enforcement, are on recruitment drives currently. Bursaries, scholarships and apprenticeships can often be found easily online for these kinds of roles.

Young people in unemployment

Younger people have been the worst impacted so far by redundancies, with people under-35s the most likely to have been made redundant.

Catch22 is an organisation which works on youth unemployment, by offering support to young people and working with businesses.

Catch22's Director of Employability, Victoria Head, says young people should be looking for opportunities in growth industries like technology and health, as well as working on long-term skills.

She explained: “Young people and those already in vulnerable positions are faring far worse during this pandemic. Right now, we need a workforce whose skills match business’ needs.

“But we also need employers committed to developing their young staff and taking on those who may not have the traditionally expected background for a role.

“Whether it means using unspent apprenticeship levy or putting them through a pre-employment course, it is these forward-thinking employers who will help bring this generation out of the pandemic well-equipped for the future."