Santander’s virtual Careers Fair helps businesses shape the future of the post pandemic workforce

  • Over half (51%) of SMEs say that the ability to adapt and embrace change is the skill they will most look for in future employees
  • Three in 10 (30%) small business decision-makers say safeguarding their employee’s livelihoods was the main driver for keeping their business open during the pandemic
  • Santander’s first Careers Fair connected businesses that are adapting to new ways of working with more than 2,600 job hunters from across the UK

New research by Santander UK with small and medium sized business decision makers explores how the pandemic has shifted the shape of Britain’s workforce skills and needs of employers1. As the vaccine roll out continues and with the roadmap to reopen laid out by Government, nearly a quarter (23%) of small business decision-makers say that the pandemic has changed the skills and characteristics they will look for in future employees. 

The ability to adapt and embrace change is the most sought after skill (51%), with adaptability complemented by the willingness to do more than one type of job (47%), and practical thinking the third most sought after skill (44%). For more than a third of businesses (34%) digital skills are now more important than pre-pandemic. Over a quarter (27%) say that experience matters, with decision makers focused on hiring the right skills to meet their business’s needs as they look to the future. 

Susan Davies, Head of Business Banking at Santander UK said: “From our daily conversations with businesses, we know that the shape of their workforce needs and the skills they’re looking for in employees have been changed by Covid-19. That’s why we’ve hosted our first virtual Careers Fair – to connect job seekers who have a wide range of experience, with businesses who have changing skills needs and employment opportunities. 

“Over 2,600 people joined the Careers Fair and participated in sessions with a range of experts on topics ranging from interview skills to the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workforce. These sessions are available on the Santander UK YouTube channel and we hope they’ll support job hunters and employers who are considering the future needs of their business and workforce.”  

For many businesses, the most immediate impact of Covid-19 was the change to where they operated as lockdowns saw offices and trading premises close overnight for weeks or months at a time. One in five small businesses (20%) report that they are more likely to change their business premises because of the pandemic, with 34% of these planning to move their business to their home. Among those planning to move from premises to home, the change is most popular with businesses in Northern Ireland (67%), the South East (44%) and North West (44%).

The shift to longer term remote working means employers are less restricted by geography when looking for new talent. Of those surveyed, one in 11 (9%) are more likely to hire people from outside their local area or region. In London nearly one-in-five businesses (19%) say they are more likely now to hire people to work remotely. 

For nearly a third (30%) of small business owners and decision-makers surveyed safeguarding the jobs and livelihood of their employees was the main driver for keeping their business operating during the pandemic. However, many still had to make difficult decisions with nearly a quarter (24%) reporting that they have made redundancies, with entry-level (55%) employees most likely to have been affected. As nearly one-in-five (17%) of those businesses who made redundancies say that their employee numbers will not return to pre-Covid-19 levels, the online Careers Fair sessions, can help support job hunters to understand what employers are looking for. 

Santander’s virtual Careers Fair
Held virtually on 10 March 2021, Santander’s virtual Careers Fair saw 2,693 job seekers meet with 25 employers with around 600 vacancies. Content from the event is available as part Santander UK’s Survive and Revive programme, which aims to support businesses through the coronavirus pandemic. 

To find out more about Survive and Revive visit here. The Careers Fair sessions can be watched on the Santander UK YouTube channel here.

Sessions at the virtual Careers Fair focussed on three areas:

Green jobs and jobs with purpose. The UK Government has set up a new Green Jobs Taskforce to help drive the transition to a high-skill, low carbon economy to reach a target of net zero emissions by 2050.  

Diversity and inclusion as business as usual. How being committed to employing a diverse and inclusive workforce, marketing to minority group customers or engaging with diverse communities or minority businesses in your supply chains and networks as part of your strategy can benefit your business.

Apprenticeships. Showcasing the many benefits apprenticeships bring to UK businesses, individuals and the economy. Recent figures from the Education & Skills Funding Agency revealed that in 2019/20, the number of matched apprenticeship starts fell in every enterprise size band compared to 2018/19. Small enterprises (those with fewer than 50 employees) saw the largest decrease in matched starts of 19%, around 18,600 2.

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Notes to Editors 

1.    Research carried out by Opinium with 1,748 senior decision makers in business of 0 - 49 employees between 14 to 21December 2020. 
2.    Apprenticeships in England by Industry Characteristics, 2019/20 published 4 March 2021 by the Education & Skills Funding Agency.

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. At 31 December 2020, the bank had around 21,900 employees and serves around 14 million active customers, via a nationwide branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK. Santander UK plc customers’ eligible deposits are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK.

Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading retail and commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in Europe and the Americas, and is one of the largest banks in the world by market capitalization. Its purpose is to help people and businesses prosper in a simple, personal and fair way. Santander is building a more responsible bank and has made a number of commitments to support this objective, including raising over €120 billion in green financing between 2019 and 2025, as well as financially empowering more than 10 million people over the same period. At the end of 2020, Banco Santander had more than a trillion euros in total funds, 148 million customers, of which 22.8 million are loyal and 42.4 million are digital, 11,000 branches and 191,000 employees.

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