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10 months ago by

Milliners & engineers | How has recruitment evolved?

Story Milliners And Engineers

The jobs market can change in a blink of an eye and this year has demonstrated just that. Looking back to February 2020, employment was at a high of 76.5%, according to ONS data, making the market a candidate-driven one, however fast-forward to today, employment has sadly taken a nosedive.

Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, 700,000 jobs have been lost, Government data has revealed, indicating just how quickly things can change. Not only that, but jobs have also come and gone depending on the era and what skills are required.

For example, modern jobseekers looking through employment pages within newspapers from 150 years ago may struggle to find a role that matches their skillset, as job adverts would seek milliners, dressmakers and servants.

This is a far cry from the most common role on job sites currently according to, which is a gas engineer, compared to the position of a chandelier burnisher back in 1870. Menno Olsthoorn, CEO of online CV builder, said: “Finding a job these days is a confusing business, but navigating the employment pages of newspapers from 150 years ago is like entering another world.”

How British jobs have evolved

Back in 1870, the jobs market looked entirely different to today's, where more than a third of positions (36%) available in the construction and skilled trades sector, including adverts for a mortice lock maker, French polisher and Venetian blind painter. According to, the number of jobs in this sector dropped to 17% by 1920, 11% by 1970 and made up just seven per cent of the economy in 2020.

The importance of the domestic help sector has also shifted dramatically. In fact, a quarter of roles were for housekeepers, nannies, household cooks and servants in 1870, rising to a third in 1920. However, changes to society as a result of World War II saw this number dip to six per cent in 1970, and now make up just one per cent of roles currently.

Similarly, changes occurred for secretarial and administrative roles. Positions started to spike with the rise of the typewriter, with copy-typists helping to make the sector a third of advertised job roles by 1970. Despite this, due to the creation of the computer, positions fell to just four per cent by 2020.

Looking at the current jobs market, education and teaching assistants have grown from one per cent in 1870 to 10% today, health, nursing and social care has spiked from one per cent to seven per cent and manufacturing and industrial has grown form nine per cent to 15%.

Equality and sexism

Advertisements shared from 150 years ago demonstrate the progress that has been made regards equality and sexism within the workplace. For example, it would not be unusual to see adverts from 150 years ago requesting for a ‘young man’, despite the fact the role could be carried out by either a man or woman.

In addition, several positions would request for an office boy, with the advert specifically stating someone aged 13 would be preferred. Now, however, modern employment laws state that children can only take on full-time work once they have reached the minimum school leaving age of 16, which goes to showcase just how far the jobs market has evolved to the current day. 

Source: Executive Grapevine