The end of furlough comes amid record UK vacancy figures

Written by: Cristina Mancuso
Published on: 20 Oct 2021


The furlough scheme ended on 30 September 2021.

Since the start of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), a cumulative total of 11.7 million jobs have been supported by the CJRS at various times. Under the extension, businesses had the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work on a part-time basis or furlough them full-time.

All businesses, regardless of which sector they operate in, should continue to prepare for what may follow furlough. While nothing is certain, there are some predictions of what could happen when furlough ends, from a rise in the unemployment rate and personal debts to having businesses struggling to survive.

More than a million workers were still on furlough in September, the final month of the scheme. As businesses figure out if they can’t afford to keep staff on the payroll, we could face a rise in unemployment.

Sadly, while some furloughed workers will lose their jobs, others will start working again for the first time since the scheme was introduced. September 2021 saw the highest number of job vacancy openings since 2015.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of job vacancies in July to September 2021 was a record high of 1,102,000 - an increase of 318,000 from its pre-pandemic January to March 2020 level with all industries displaying a record number of vacancies from July to September 2021. While the rate of vacancy growth has slowed recently, the number of vacancies is still escalating across most industries.

ONS figures have shown that employment has risen, and unemployment has fallen nearly to pre-pandemic levels. Data shows how unemployment for June to August was down to 4.5 per cent, just 0.5 percentage points higher than pre-pandemic levels and 0.4 percentage points lower than the previous quarter.

According to the latest employment figures from the ONS and the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), three in five recruiters (58%) have at least 30% more vacancies now, seeing the number of job vacancies hitting a record high of 1.1 million within the three months to September, as the post-pandemic work market continues to recover.

With the economy starting to recover from the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations will face a very different and extremely competitive job market than in the past years with a record number of open roles.

There's without a doubt a challenging period ahead for both employers and staff as the UK heads into the next stage of recovery after the pandemic, however, the rapid increase in hiring activity has improved confidence in the market.


For support or career advice, check out our resources: