CharityJob Research Quarterly Overview Spring 2021

Welcome to the first CharityJob Research quarterly overview. This roundup will cover data and research relevant to the charity and recruitment sectors. Content will include data on the sectors, and research from ourselves and others. 


Last year saw the UK’s economy’s worst annual fall in 300 yearsOver 2020 as a whole, GDP contracted by 9.9%, marking the largest annual reduction on record. 

Jobs data 

After a turbulent year, 2021 has started on a brighter note in terms of job volumes. The most recent data show the UK employment rate at 75%, only 1.5 percentage points lower than a year earlier. Reassuringly, unemployment stopped increasing in the first quarter of 2021 and redundancies are down from their peak in September but remained high at 11 per thousand workers in the most recent data. 

Employment is up across the UK, and over a fifth of the jobs lost in the crisis have been regained. Young people have been worst effected – those under 25 account for nearly two thirds of the fall in employment. 

Fewer people are starting new jobs or leaving current jobs. There were 574,000 new jobs started in February 2021, compared with 684,000 a year before, down one sixth (16%). However, fewer people are leaving jobs – job exits fell from 692,000 to 506,000 (27%). The tide is turning, however, as online vacancies across all sectors are back to over 90% of pre-Covid levels.

Flows into and out of PAYE payrolled employment, two years to January 2021

Flows into and out of PAYE payrolled employment, two years to January 2021

Businesses’ confidence in their ability to hire new staff continued to improve in Q1 2021. But half (50%) of employers have never discussed how to improve the diversity of candidates they consider hiring. 


Online job ads showed signs of recovery in Q1 2021. Vacancies have reached 93% of pre-crisis levels, and job vacancies for February 2021 were only 1% down on the same month last year. 

Across the UK jobs market as a wholethere were 1.3 million active job adverts in the first week of February, returning to levels last seen in late June 2020. On a reassuring note, the February data shows that there were 132,000 new job advertswell above the 92,000 posted at the end of June. Looking only at the month of March, adverts are up 17% on the same month last year. All of this indicates greater confidence about hiring today compared to last year, but the picture is very mixed as some employers thrive and others struggle.  

A survey of 5,000 UK employees showed that 84% are looking for a new job so a higher volume of job ad might be necessary. 

Pay data 

Pay across the UK as whole has stayed remarkably positive. Total pay grew 4.8% overall in the latest figures, (4.2% excluding bonuses). Excluding changes to the labour market, loss of low-paid jobs, suggests underlying pay growth of around 3% for total pay and 2.5% when bonuses are excluded.  

The graph below graph illustrates the devastating impact of the pandemic on earnings in the private sector, though not the public sector (charities are included in the public sector data).

Average weekly earnings (incl. bonuses)

Average weekly earnings (including bonuses)

Charity sector 

The charity sector looks set to be relatively healthy in 2021. Data from the fourth quarter of 2020 show that the voluntary sector is among the sectors most likely to recruit. The good news is that charities expect to be recruiting this year – net employment intention is +9 for the voluntary sector (the difference between the proportion of employers who expect to increase staff levels and those who expect to decrease staff levels)Indeed, almost two-thirds of voluntary sector respondents (63%) are planning to recruit. There is good news on wages as wellpay is expected to grow in the voluntary sector by 1.4% in the next 12 months. 

However, a fifth of all employers (20%) expect to cut jobs so more churn is likely. That’s on top of the 1 in 5 (19%) who cannot give an answer as to whether they intend to make redundancies, suggesting many employers remain uncertain about the future. 

Even the biggest charities have not been immuneThe largest 20 charities have made over 2,200 redundancies despite the furlough scheme saving many jobs. 

The future of work 

The pandemic may bring about the greatest change in working conditions in over a century. There is strong demand for ‘hybrid’ work which combines time in the office and working remotely. Thirtysix percent of respondents ‘would prefer to work at home all of the time’, but over 73% would prefer to work at home some of the time, or to perform specific work tasks at home. 

Others found a similar picture, with 79% wanting to continue to work from home in some capacity. Nationwide is to tell its 13,000 staff to work wherever they want. However, a new poll indicates that the novelty of working from home could be wearing off as 37% of workers have a preference to be mostly or completely office-based in the future. 

Dr Zofia Bajorek at the institute for Employment Studies stressed how employees should be involved in the conversation on remote working. 

Not surprisingly, the proportion of jobs advertised as permanent ‘remote working’ posts has increased dramatically over the last year, from 0.8% to 3.6% of jobs.  

Further reading: 

This section brings together a range of publications and research pieces that may be of interest:

Third Sector Annual Pay Award Survey

83% of respondents’ pay policies provide for an annual pay award, 63% intend to bring this into effect in April. The key factor influencing decisions on the value of the award is affordability (72%).

The impacts of the coronavirus crisis on the labour market: Analysis of quarterly Labour Force Survey data

Matthew Williams, James Cockett, Alma Boustati, De-Jon Ebanks-Silvera, and Tony Wilson, Institute for Employment Studies

This paper sets out analysis of the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, data covering the period from July to September 2020.

Bias and Discrimination: What Do We Know?

Marina Della Giusta and IZA Steven Bosworth, University of Reading

The paper presents the economic literature on gender bias, illustrating the underpinnings in the psychology of bias and stereotyping as well as literature on methods to contrast bias, presenting evidence (where it exists) of their effectiveness. The second part of the paper presents results of an experiment in revealing unconscious bias.

Bias in Context: Small Biases in Hiring Evaluations Have Big Consequences

Jay H. Hardy, III, Kian Siong Tey, Wilson Cyrus-Lai, Richard F. Martell, Andy Olstad, and Eric Luis Uhlmann

This study found evidence of small gender bias effects and large qualification effects on hiring managers’ evaluations of candidate “hireability”. The results demonstrate residual amounts of subgroup bias can undermine the effectiveness of otherwise successful targeted recruitment efforts.

Shut Out: How employers and recruiters are overlooking the talents of over 50s workers

Edwards M, Holmes J, Mason B, Bajorek Z, Centre for Ageing Better

This report looks at the current and future recruitment landscape for older workers.

Life Satisfaction, Pro-Activity, and Employment

Alpaslan Akay, Gökhan Karabulut, and Levent Yilmaz

This research finds that the probability of returning to the labour market is positively associated with proactivity during the unemployment period. The negative shock of unemployment on well-being is also mitigated.

Careers and seeking employment during a pandemic

Joseph Treacy

A survey of over 500 professionals within the non-profit sector on their current career and their experience of seeking employment during a pandemic.

One in three BME workers say they have been unfairly turned down for a job: TUC poll

Trades Union Congress

A third (33%) of black and minority ethnic (BME) workers say they have been unfairly turned down for a job compared to 19% of white workers, according to a new TUC survey.

UK Economic Outlook


The UK’s unemployment rate is expected to record its largest ever quarterly increase in Q2. Despite tentative signs of an economic recovery in 2021, the authors expect unemployment jump by a record 2.5 percentage points in the second quarter, as the government’s furlough scheme comes to an end.

Gender and ethnicity pay gaps are expected to increase in 2021, potentially reversing a decade of progress on the former. The authors expect the economic impact of the pandemic to be felt disproportionately by women and ethnic minorities, as they are overrepresented in the sectors that have been most affected by social distancing restrictions.

Hays UK Salary & Recruiting Trends 2021

Over a third (37%) of employers are optimistic about the wider economic climate and business opportunities in the next 2-5 years, almost no change from last year.

The future of recruiting

Recruiting practices could be driving candidates away. This report suggests ways that recruiters can improve their services.

Tags: charity job, charity sector, quarterly overview, research

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Martin Rogers