Employment support charity prepares for ‘tidal wave’ of job-seekers

Resource warns that the true impact of the pandemic on UK Jews will only become clear when the furlough scheme ends


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New research from communal employment charity Resource suggests that the true impact of the pandemic on jobs has yet to be felt by British Jews.

Its figures for 2020 show that 63 per cent of clients (195 people) were helped to find work, a slight fall on the previous year.

Meanwhile, the number of its clients aged 21-28 rose from 14 per cent to 22 per cent, reflecting the drop in opportunities for graduates. Chief executive Victoria Sterman said that working with the Union of Jewish Students on support initiatives was a major priority.

But she anticipated that in general, “this year we’ll see new people who have been hanging on because they are on furlough”. Unless it is further extended, the furlough scheme will end at the end of April.

And Carol Rosenberg, the market researcher who compiled the figures, said she expected increased demand for Resource’s services from those “who have gone into self-employment out of necessity and may find that it’s not working”.

Mrs Rosenberg had started her 2020 research believing “there would be changes because of Covid. That has not always been the case.”

But since the start of 2021, the charity has experienced a “tidal wave” of new inquiries prompted by job losses within high street brands.

Salary bands of those assisted by Resource (based on previous employment) remained broadly similar to 2019 with 15 per cent of clients coming from jobs with a £60,000-plus salary. By contrast, a third were either “unpaid” or earning below £20,000, although some of these positions were only part-time.

By age, 62 per cent of under-35s were in the “unpaid” or below £20,000 categories.

Overall, clients were well qualified, with the majority holding a university degree or higher qualification. One change was that the pandemic had stemmed the flow of highly qualified Israelis coming to the UK to work.

Although the hospitality, travel and retail sectors have been particularly hard hit by the Covid crisis, “our clients appear to be less affected at this stage”.

Among those turning to Resource in significant numbers are receptionist/PAs, educators, marketing and communications and sales staff, as well as some who have served in executive roles. But the charity has also dealt with job-seekers ranging from actress to interpreter.

Resource offers online face-to-face adviser sessions and one benefit of the North London-based organisation’s digital provision is that those outside the capital can now take full advantage of its services.

In the current market, employers were looking particularly for “resilience, flexibility, creativity, self-managing skills and confidence using IT”, the charity reported.

The good news is that there are still jobs to be had. According to Resource, there were 10,000 vacancies within the NHS in December and more than 1,000 positions at Next, Specsavers and Boots respectively.

Within the communal sphere, Ms Sterman noted that the care sector was facing a difficult time. “Organisations with facilities like day care and homes are making redundancies — people in fundraising, marketing and events.”

However, there were also some new roles being offered within charities.

For those struggling to find work, Ms Sterman suggested volunteering as a way of both supplementing a CV and providing much-needed support for the needy during the pandemic. “We have recommended a lot of people to be befrienders for Jewish Care.”

But volunteering has also been impacted by Covid restrictions.

Her advice to those new to the employment search? “Get us much help as you can.

“There are loads of jobs out there but the competition is greater than ever. So if you can be the best prepared candidate, you are in with a chance. A random, speculative application pinged off without a huge amount of effort is a complete waste of time.”

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