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How have rogue employment agencies taken advantage of the COVID-19 crisis? How to avoid them

Thursday, October 29th, 2020

The global response to the COVID-19 crisis involved shutting down entire sectors of the economy and restricting a wide range of revenue-generating activities, so it’s no surprise that despite furlough schemes and other stimulus measures, many people have found themselves out of work.

Of course, there were also many thousands of people in the UK who were already seeking employment at the outbreak of the pandemic, and have been forced to cope with a closed-down economy for much of 2020.

However, recruitment activity has continued throughout the year, and this has led to an increase in the prevalence of rogue employment agencies who are prepared to defraud legitimate candidates in a variety of ways.

Why are there more rogue employment agencies in 2020?

The events of 2020 have been a perfect storm for an increase in fraudulent activity posing as recruitment consultancy services:

  • A rise in people out of work and urgently seeking employment.
  • A fall in the availability of legitimate and lucrative employment opportunities.
  • Disruption to some legitimate employment agencies’ activities.

With a sudden and significant change in the way people are interviewed and appointed into new roles, this has opened the door to the potential for applicants to become victims of fraud.

It is worth noting that the criminals carrying out such acts are not recruitment agents at all, but fraudsters using the industry as a front for their activities.

Common types of recruitment fraud

There are some common ways fraudsters attempt to trick would-be job applicants and employers looking to fill vacancies.

The most obvious is to ask for a fee or deposit to be paid upfront, at which point the fraudster simply disappears with the money.

Some examples of this include:

  • Charging employers a deposit or consultancy fee for a job listing that never appears.
  • Asking candidates to pay a finder’s fee to be referred for a vacancy that does not exist.
  • Spurious upfront charges e.g. transport/accommodation deposits, uniform deposits, CRB check fees etc.

The charity SAFERjobs offers support to individuals who work in the ‘flexible economy’ such as freelancers and gig workers, and saw reports of scams and frauds by UK employment agencies rise by two thirds in the six months following the start of lockdown.

Why choose a reputable recruitment agency?

It’s quite clear why you should choose a reputable recruitment agency to avoid falling victim to a rogue employment agent – but it’s important to understand what ‘reputable’ means in 2020.

SAFERjobs found some rogue employment agencies advertising non-existent jobs on legitimate online jobs boards, before collecting fraudulent fees and deposits from applicants who believed the vacancy had been vetted by the website operators.

In such cases, the website that lists the vacancy often cannot be held accountable, the fraudsters themselves cannot be traced, and the victim’s bank refuses to issue a refund.

For all of these reasons, it’s crucial to choose a reputable recruitment agency like Alexander Hancock whether you are recruiting or applying for jobs, and we will continue to work diligently to place the best candidates in the best roles as the UK economy recovers from recent events. Contact us today to see how we can help you.

What jobs are available during the COVID-19 crisis?

Thursday, October 29th, 2020

The COVID-19 lockdown brought a sharp fall in employment in the spring months, with 673,000 fewer payroll workers between March and September 2020 according to the ONS.

But preliminary data for September showed a possible start to the labour market’s recovery, with 20,000 more employees on payroll, fewer people temporarily out of work and a rise in total hours worked.

As part of its labour market data, the ONS publishes figures for the number of vacancies available in the UK by industry – a useful indicator of where jobs can be found as we emerge from lockdown and the lingering economic effects of the pandemic.

Most vacancies overall

The largest number of vacancies overall in July to September 2020 was in human health and social work activities, at a total of 114,000 available roles.

This represents an increase of 11,000 job opportunities since the previous quarter, perhaps an indication of the rising demand for medical and care workers due to the pandemic.

A further 58,000 jobs were available in wholesale and retail trade including motor vehicle repair, up by 20,000 jobs over the previous quarter, and again potentially a sign of the extra demand within wholesale and retail supply chains since the start of lockdown.

Biggest ratio of demand

The data also shows which industries have the biggest proportional demand, defined as the number of vacancies for every 100 employees in each sector.

Again healthcare tops the table, with 2.8 vacancies per 100 employees in human health and social care jobs.

This time it is followed by jobs in electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply at 2.0 vacancies per 100 employees in the sector – the only other industry with a ratio of 2 or above.

Largest growth in demand

According to the ONS figures, there were 144,000 more job vacancies in the UK in July-September 2020, compared with the previous quarter, a rise of 42%.

The biggest proportional changes were in:

  • Construction (1.0 more vacancies per 100 employees)
  • Accommodation and foodservice (1.0)
  • Transport and storage (0.9)
  • Motor trades (0.8)
  • Information & communication (0.7)

Because these are the biggest changes per 100 current employees, they are a useful way to see rising demand equally across sectors of different sizes – and show the variety of industries with greater need for employees at the present time.

COVID-19 recruitment advice

Whether you’re an employer or a candidate, our employment consultants are on-hand to help with the latest Coronavirus recruitment advice as we move through the pandemic and beyond.

Our insight can help applicants to find industries with the largest number of vacancies at the current time, and we can also help businesses operating in sectors where demand for employees outstrips the availability of talent.

To find out more, give us a call on 0161 929 6665 and we can help you get started with your next recruitment campaign or job search, whatever the coming months might bring.