wooden blocks with 2021 written

2021 job markets in review and an outlook on 2022

The past year has been challenging as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to affect the working lives of many people. For some it meant a complete change of career, for others, the last few months have finally seen them able to return to their chosen path. 

To round up the year, let’s look at how the jobs market has changed, and look at the year ahead as we face 2022 with renewed optimism. 

The changing jobs market in 2021 

Most of the UK began 2021 in lockdown again. The impact of this on the jobs market varied significantly according to the sector. Whilst there was an increase in demand for Drivers and Warehouse Workers, Catering jobs were very limited as the hospitality industry remained mostly closed. The full reopening of restaurants and hotels in late spring saw the number of vacancies in the catering sector begin to increase. People in office jobs started the year either working remotely or on furlough, but as the year progressed and businesses returned to the office, there has been a significant rise in demand for office jobs. 

Driving Jobs

The increase in available driving jobs this year was caused not only by the pandemic and rise in online shopping, but also by the loss of Drivers due to Brexit and retirement along with an unequal number of Drivers joining the industry. 

The lack of newly qualified LGV (formerly HGV) Drivers, is partly due to testing being halted during the lockdowns and a resulting backlog at the test centres. The government has invested in a Skills Bootcamp for people to train as LGV Drivers, in a bid to encourage more people into the industry. With far more opportunities now available for more local Delivery Drivers, it is also possible to have a driving career to fit around your family life.

Jobs in demand: 

Vacancies in the transport and storage sector increased by 40% between August and October 2021, compared with May to July 2021. There was an increase of 49% compared to January to March 20201.

You can search the latest driving jobs available with Blue Arrow: 

Salary changes2:  

  • The average salary for LGV Drivers across the UK in 2021 is £27,756, up 3.5% from 2020. 
  • The average salary for Delivery Drivers across the UK in 2021 is £22,131, up 1.6% from 2020. 

Find out more about current trends in the driving sector in our Sector in Focus: Driving blog.  

Warehouse Jobs 

Throughout the pandemic, the warehouse industry has seen an increasing demand. The increase in online retailing meant the need for warehouse space to store more products, and uncertainties in the global supply chain has seen companies increasing their inventory to compensate for possible shortages due to issues with manufacturing and logistics. 

Many people turned to warehouse work during the pandemic when they were unable to work in their usual job. The industry introduced more flexible work patterns to fit around the other commitments of the new workforce. You can read more about some of the changes seen in the warehouse work environment here.

Jobs in demand:

  • Vacancies in the transport and storage sector increased by 40% between August and October 2021, compared with May to July 2021. There was an increase of 49% compared to January to March 20201
  • You can search the latest warehouse jobs available with Blue Arrow: Warehouse Operative jobs, Warehouse Manager jobs.

Salary changes2:

  • The average salary for Warehouse Workers across the UK in 2021 is £19,600, up 3.4% from 2020

Office Jobs

Although the pandemic forced many people to work from home, many businesses saw an increase in productivity. As a result, whilst many workers are now returning to the office, some companies are adopting a hybrid work model, with employees working part of the week remotely and the rest in the office. As the country opened up and people returned to a more normal way of living, job vacancies have increased across all areas of office work from customer service to reception and secretarial work. 

Working from home meant that many office workers had to adapt to using new forms of technology to communicate with colleagues, clients and customers and learn to use online software and resources for meetings and training. With people working remotely, more focus is now being given to staff wellbeing, to ensure they still feel part of the work community. 

Jobs in demand:

Salary changes2:

  • The average salary for Customer Service Advisors across the UK in 2021 is £18,723, up 0.6% from 2020.
  • The average salary for Call Centre Advisors across the UK in 2021 is £19,100, up 1.6% from 2020.
  • The average salary for Administrators across the UK in 2021 is £19,685, up 2.5% from 2020.

Catering Jobs

The hospitality sector was one of the hardest hit this year, with food and hotel businesses having to close for the majority of 2020 and the first part of 2021. Many businesses adapted by offering takeaway and delivery options, but only required a minimal number of staff. 

Now the concern is that there are a huge number of vacancies in the catering industry but not enough experienced people to fill them. Many hospitality workers did not fit the criteria for furlough and, with the uncertainty around the industry, sought work in other sectors and chose to stay in those roles. In a bid to encourage more people back to catering, some hospitality businesses are announcing pay increases for their employees4.

The movement of many EU workers back to their home countries because of the pandemic or Brexit also affected the catering jobs market. In addition, the disruption to training during the lockdowns played a part in the current shortage of skilled Chefs. If you are considering a career in catering you can find opportunities to train as a Chef using online resources, many of which are free. 

Jobs in demand:

Salary changes2:

  • The average salary for Chefs across the UK in 2021 is £20,615, up 3.5% from 2020.
  • The average salary for Catering Assistants across the UK in 2021 is £18,600, showing no change from 2020.
  • The average salary for waiting staff across the UK in 2021 is £18,615, showing no change from 2020.
  • The average salary for bar staff across the UK in 2021 is £18,654, down 0.1% from 2020. 

Looking ahead to 2022 

The number of job vacancies we are now seeing is an encouraging sign that businesses are returning to normal, and the hope is that as 2022 progresses more people will have opportunities to receive training to gain the skills needed to fill vacancies. Increasing salaries and improved work hours will continue to entice people to enter certain professions.

Driving Jobs 

Online shopping is here to stay, so the need for Delivery Drivers will continue. This is an ideal driving job for anyone with a valid UK car driving licence who prefers to stay closer to home. LGV Drivers will continue to be in demand to ensure that supply chains keep moving. Many employers will continue to offer incentives such as increased pay and bonuses to attract and retain staff.   

Warehouse Jobs  

In warehouse jobs, the offer of more flexible shifts will increase the uptake of staff as more people could work in the industry alongside other commitments. It is likely that warehousing will continue to see more use of automation, requiring employees to have increased skills in technology as well as the usual organisation and communication skills. You can read more about the effect of the pandemic on automation in the warehouse in our blog, Automation of Warehouse Jobs: Our Friend or Foe?

Office Jobs 

It is expected that many businesses will keep the hybrid work model going into 2022 and beyond. Office jobs will continue to see an increased need for employees to have technical skills as the use of automation and collaboration software, artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) systems become the new norm.  

Catering Jobs 

The year ahead will see an increased need for trained and experienced Chefs and catering staff to fill the many vacancies currently seen in the sector. It is likely that this will be combined with more businesses offering incentives to restore people’s faith in the industry. Catering jobs are known for being demanding and involving long, unsociable hours. In the aftermath of the pandemic, the hospitality industry has recognised the need to improve hours and conditions, something which may be seen over the coming months. Anyone entering or returning to a catering job should understand how to achieve a good work-life balance to enjoy a fulfilling catering career.   

As 2021 comes to an end we at Blue Arrow would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. 2022 is set to bring lots of new and exciting opportunities and challenges in the world of work and we will continue to keep you up-to-date through our website and consultants. Happy New Year to you all!  

Where next?

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We have a range of tools to help you with your job search. To find out the average pay in your region, check our Pay Rate Report tool. Click here to find out how to get a job through Blue Arrow, click here to view our latest jobs or visit us on Facebook for the latest updates. 


  • Office for National Statistics (ONS). c2021. Vacancies and jobs in the UK: November 2021. [Online]. [December 2021]. Available from: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/jobsandvacanciesintheuk/november2021  
  • Blue Arrow. c2021. Pay Rate Report. [Online]. [December 2021]. Available from: https://www.bluearrow.co.uk/find-staff/pay-rate-reports 
  • Office for National Statistics (ONS). c2021. Vacancies and jobs in the UK: October 2021. [Online]. [December 2021]. Available from: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/jobsandvacanciesintheuk/october2021  
  • Sheehan, D. 2021. More wage increases announced as people and skills shortages tighten. [Online]. [December 2021]. Available from: https://www.hospitalityandcateringnews.com/2021/09/more-wage-increases-announced-as-people-and-skills-shortages-tighten/  



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