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Britain's Covid Jobs Crisis

Britain's Covid Jobs Crisis
Back to ‘Our Films’
27 minutes
Kiran Sira
Rachel Cumella
Executive Producer:
Brian Woods

By Christmas it’s forecast that up to 2 million people will have lost their jobs due to Covid. Tier 3 lockdowns will mean more job losses, and more intense competition for every vacancy. Dispatches: Britain’s Covid Job Crisis tracks a single minimum wage job, advertised in Manchester in September, following some of almost a thousand hopeful applicants. And an exclusive survey by Britain’s biggest jobsite, Indeed reveals the human cost of Covid’s devastating impact on the job market.

Since the Covid outbreak, available job vacancies in Britain have halved, following the boost from the chancellor’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme in August, parts of the hospitality sector had started to recruit again. Specialist recruiter Abi Dunn is in charge of whittling down the hundreds of CVs for the restaurant position, and she is seeing not just huge volumes, but applicants from across the board, including those from aviation, entertainment, events and senior management; a first in her 10 years of recruiting. A microcosm of the dire state the labour market is in.

One applicant, former cruise ship dancer Faye, has had to move back in with her parents after her entire industry disappeared overnight. She has invested her whole life into her performing career, but is now having to put dancing on hold and look for any available job. After four months, she has still had no interviews. Abi receives several applications from cabin crew airline staff - some of the 74,000 who have either been made redundant or furloughed since March. We meet Katie who is about to leave for her last ever flight with her airline – she has already started applying for jobs, but knows that there will be fierce competition for every role, and that her career will have to go back to square one.

But even the high achievers from within the hospitality industry are struggling to secure restaurant jobs

Jake, previously a luxury hotel manager has resorted to looking for minimum wage work, and he can’t even get employers to so much as look at his CV, let alone grant him an interview. Like many others, he is facing the very real prospect of a significant pay cut, as well as the likelihood of not being able to cover his next month’s rent.

We also witness some of the many hardships that come with long-term unemployment. Mum of two, Kerry was one of a thousand people who lost their jobs at car maker Bentley during lockdown. Not only has the daily job searching affected her confidence, but she is now relying solely on her husband’s income to pay their mortgage, and worries what will happen if his job is affected.

John and his husband, also John, lost their jobs as ticket inspectors back at the start of the pandemic. They have applied to 2000 jobs between them, and have barely had a reply from many employers who are assumingly inundated with applications. With no income apart from universal credit, they have burned through their savings and are often forced to choose whether to buy food or pay for the electric.

We follow the candidates that make it to interview stage for the server job, and see the shortlist come down to the two front runners – previous hotel manager, Jake and experienced head waiter, Mirco. But just before either can be offered the role, the Government announce the latest set of Covid restrictions – a 10pm curfew for all hospitality venues. This combined with the threat of tier 3 lockdowns mean that this much needed job vacancy no longer exists.