The furlough scheme is ending – now what?

At the start of this year, not many of us were familiar with the term ‘furlough’. The official definition of the word is, ‘a leave of absence, especially that granted to a member of the services or a missionary’. Whilst people in those fields may have experienced life on furlough, the majority of the rest of us saw it as a wholly new experience.

The scheme so far has successfully saved many jobs in hospitality and retail, ideal for those unable to work when lockdown was in full effect. For other companies, it was sadly a stopgap for the inevitable redundancies which were rife in July and August. Now, as we start to near the end of September with one month left on the scheme, the worry is what next? This is especially valid as we enter our second wave of the virus taking hold.

In the retail and hospitality world, approximately 4.8 million individuals are still being furloughed, even though the scheme is set to end in a matter of weeks. As we near the finishing line, many people are calling for an extension, however this is yet to be confirmed and could be unlikely. 

At the moment worry is high that a sudden end of the scheme could cause mass unemployment, but what roles could most be affected in the fashion industry? Some of our favourite brands such as Cath Kidston, Selfridges, Harrods and Ted Baker have streamlined their business, costing hundreds of jobs. However, eCommerce jobs have not been as affected as other roles, as businesses have seen more value in online retail than brick and mortar high street visits.

Currently, people are able to be brought back from the scheme on a part time basis, as businesses must subsidise part of their remuneration, so once this comes to an end, will more people be working part time than on a 9-5 basis? And the further question, is this better than having no job at all?

In the recruitment process, roles are more competitive than ever, with hundreds of people in contest for one singular role. Whilst the job market is picking up, it’s more difficult than ever to find that perfect position, especially when you have no idea who the competition is.

If you have been on the furlough scheme and ended up redundant, or are worrying that this may happen, it doesn’t mean you should lose all hope. No-one’s career is the perfect straight line, so just because you’re going through a rough patch, it doesn’t mean it should hold you back. When searching for your next role, why don’t you think about it a little differently? As companies have restructured, they’ve created new roles, so this may be a chance for you to try something a little different. This year has been tough, there’s no doubt, but take that resilience you’ve built and put it into your job hunt – it’ll make you stand out from the crowd in style.