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InHunt World is a Global Headhunting Network that is currently active in over 40 countries. During this autumn, we are going to go through these countries one by one, usually interviewing the Country Manager or the CEO of the country in question.

The COVID-19 outbreak has brought about substantial changes in the Portuguese labour market: workers who had never teleworked have begun to do so, others have seen their employment contracts temporarily suspended, and others have lost their jobs.
However, while the fall in economic activity has been unusually sharp, the impact on the labour market is, for now, more contained. This is due to temporary workforce reduction programs and teleworking, which will continue to be key in containing the rise in unemployment.

How was the labour market in Portugal affected by the pandemic? The population in employment decreased by 3.8% year-on-year in Q2 (–185,500 people), but the unemployment rate fell to 5.6%. Although the reduction in unemployment is surprising, it should be borne in mind that some traditional indicators are not adequate in the current context: firstly, the lockdown made it difficult to obtain statistical data, and secondly, the restrictions on activity prevented unemployed people from seeking work or being immediately available to work, so they were not formally considered unemployed. In contrast, if we look at the labour underutilization rate, this increased to 14.0% in Q2 (12.9% in Q1), driven mainly by the increase in the number of people who have not actively sought employment. At the same time, unemployment registered in job centres rose to a peak of 409,000 people in May (+29.6% versus February – source).

Headhunting and Recruitment Market in Portugal

The crisis is hitting disproportionately those on non-standard work contracts and is likely to increase inequalities by accentuating labour market dualism (Panel A). Improving access to and coverage of unemployment benefits for non-standard workers can help to alleviate poverty risks. As the pandemic continues, increasing the coverage of minimum-income benefits should become a crucial part of governments’ strategy to support people, as this can stabilise their incomes, tackle inequality, and relieve acute economic needs.
Portugal has undertaken important reforms to address labour market segmentation and foster collective bargaining. The emphasis of active labour market policies on targeted training showed positive results. Short-term working schemes helped to sustain incomes and jobs of standard workers during the crisis but non-standard employees often fail to meet the contributory requirements to access unemployment benefits.

The pandemic highlighted the dire need to equip large parts of the workforce with digital skills. Developing a coherent adult-learning strategy, in particular digital literacy programmes, and improving its attractiveness through better career guidance will foster the digital transformation and promote inclusion (Panel B). Education will play an important role in facilitating the recovery from the pandemic and fostering resilience. Developing on-the-job training in the vocational education and training system can improve its efficiency. Given the pandemic-induced disruptions of schooling, students at risk of falling behind should receive more support (source).

Headhunting and Recruitment in Portugal
Image courtesy of OECD

Next, we are going to interview the Managing Director of Luso Basto InHunt Portugal, Ms. Leonor Pereira. Leonor has been a senior consultant and a key asset to the group for more than 12 years now. We have the pleasure to interview her today regarding the situation of the Work Market in 2021 in Portugal.

How are you today Leonor? Thank you for being with us today. First of all, how are you and how was the summer?

I am very well, with the recovery of the economy, I had a large volume of work, so I remained at the office for practically 12 weeks in the summer period (June to August).
This summer I was able to travel inside Portugal, I spent one week in Algarve on the beach with great weather and the tourist and restaurant facilities were open at almost 100%.
Some government restrictive measures were lifted, and there was an improvement in the pandemic situation.
This was possible due to the mass vaccination that occurred in Portugal, being at this moment the country with the most vaccinated population in the world (fully vaccinated) with percentages above 90% in all age groups above 25 years old.
In November 2021, Portugal will have more than 85% of the population fully vaccinated and we will end our lockdown status.

How would you comment on the first half of 2021?

I think the biggest difference compared to the previous year is that Portugal felt that until the Covid-19 vaccine was widely distributed, there would be no significant improvement in the economy, confidence, and return to work.
With this in mind, Portugal started the preparation of the mass vaccination plan against Covid-19 during the first wave between March and July this year, always in the context of coordination of efforts with the European Union.

At the economic level, exports in the first half of 2021 were above the 2019 figures, which is a testament to the economic recovery in Portugal that has taken off since the beginning of the year, this improvement was due to increases in industrial supplies, machinery, and other capital goods.
Imports, on the other hand, fell by 5.4%. The most significant drop was in transport materials and fuels.
Domestic demand – private consumption, public consumption and investment – drove the Portuguese economy in the second quarter to the highest growth since at least 1978, this is due to the reopening of the country after the second general confinement earlier in the year to stem the third wave of the covid-19 pandemic.

How do you see the second part of 2021? And what about 2022?

The impact of the pandemic and the digital transformation in the labour market are factors to be taken into account and with the force of COVID-19 prevention measures, remote work is indeed a current trend in employment hiring.

By 2022, the trend will be a constant change in the way workers are connected to companies, focusing on results and not on schedules. There will no longer be so many barriers between the employment contract and the provision of services, as self-employment will increase and there will no longer be so much reliance on traditional employee ties (especially in technological areas)

What are the industries that are hiring the most?

Information technology (software development, quality and testing, data science and operations development, security and support) to respond to the current needs of companies to digitalize their products, services, and work processes. This confirms the dynamism of the technology sector, in which salary growth is expected to continue this year.

Sales and Marketing (Digital Transformation, or e-Commerce) due to the explosion of online buying and selling.
Construction, in the last seven years, 300.000 construction workers have left the country, 16.000 of them were engineers, due to the low salaries practised in Portugal.
This has led to a high lack of professionals in this area and the demand for them is constant.

Production and Warehouse Operators, production and logistical support services like warehouses were among the few areas of work that did not stop during the pandemic, mainly to produce, store and distribute food or necessities, so the demand for these professionals remained constant.

Trucking, the industry is competitive and tends to be a leading indicator for the overall economy. During the early stages of an economic upswing, customers begin to ship more goods in anticipation of stronger business conditions. As a result, the demand for professionals in this area has been increasing.

What are the roles that companies are needing the most?

The most sought after functions with a shortage of professionals in Portugal are in the IT area and Construction area, such as:
ERP experts; Business Intelligence Analysts; Front-end developers; Full-stack developers Java/C#.NET; Mobile Developers; Machine Learning Engineers/AI; Data scientist/Data engineers; Key Account Managers; Customer Marketing Managers; Export Managers; Marketing & Communications Managers; Trade Marketing Specialists; Marketing Managers;
Skilled Workers for the construction and crafts industry, including particularly skilled workers in metalworking, food processing, wood, clothing (seamstress), crafts, printing, precision instrument manufacturing, jewellers, craftsmen, electrical and electronic workers, Carpenters, electricians, foremen and ironworkers, the scarcity of skilled labour is the main constraint to the activity.

What about the candidate market?

In the current economic climate, where there is no real end date for the uncertainty and instability that has been felt, it can seem too risky to change jobs. With the pandemic, professionals are looking for value propositions that are linked to personal well-being and safety, important differentials for feeling emotionally supported.

Some consider the idea of ​​changing jobs simply crazy or, at the very least, irresponsible adventurism, others however, see crisis as opportunities for great changes, and admit that the current possible limitation of employment opportunities is a reality that will tend to be reversed in the short term, starting to follow a new phase of great expansion of the economy.

In terms of talent demand, we see a pool of available talents who come from work areas affected by the covid19 pandemic, but these professionals often do not have the skills to be placed in another job market, in other areas and where retraining is a slow path.

On the other hand, we have another pool of highly specialized talent who intend to change company or project but the market have difficulty to offer even more attractive salaries at this time.

At this point, some of the recruitment processes may be slowed down by several factors:

– difficulty on the part of companies to present more competitive salary proposals;

– increase in internal recruitment, which internally moves its professionals to more suitable projects and decrease the number of available candidats to the external hiring market;

– recruitment processes suspended; this is often the outcome when, when deciding on candidates, the company cannot match the salary/benefits proposal to what the candidate already has, ending up giving up on an external hiring;

– difficulties encountered during the recruitment processes as a result of the change in HR after pandemic, such as: the centralization of information and the management of the various tools to schedule and conduct interviews, the loss of candidates due to the process of exchanging emails and phone calls, the loss of candidates due to scheduling conflicts and the inability to keep up with the high volume of candidates and make faster hires, and some slow or inefficient talent acquisition processes.

What would you say are the top reasons companies should choose to work with Luso Basto InHunt Portugal, over some other players in the market?

Choosing an experienced Headhunting Company to partner with, can often seem challenging, as it is difficult to identify who can provide you with the best service. Especially when searching a senior vacancy with a strict specification, confidentiality, and extreme time constraints. With us you can find the best experience and expertise in finding the best talent.

If you are looking to embrace Portugal with your business and talent, you can count on the support of Luso Basto, we always stay focused on what is most important to our clients, never lose sight of how the people we represent can really make a difference.

Our talented team behind the negotiations and recruitment makes the real difference – a team with years of experience, knowledge of the market, and an example of employee retention. The result is a more knowledgeable team that gives you quality service.

Each individual project we are involved in is handled with the highest levels of service and commitment, we pride ourselves on our exemplary work ethic, transparent reporting, accountability, and communication.

Thank you for your time Leonor!

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