The skills shortage continues

Employers struggle to recruit, as the skills shortage deepens…

Businesses are facing some major recruitment challenges, as revealed by ‘The Open University Business Barometer 2019‘.

At present, the UK is experiencing its highest total employment rate since 1971. The unemployment rate is also at its lowest level since 1974. This means that while there are still job-seekers out there, most of these candidates are conducting their job hunts from the relative comfort of an existing role.

This also means that it can take a lot longer for organisations to secure the right people with the right skills for their vacancies:

  • 63% of businesses report an existing skills shortage (up by yet another percentage point versus last year).
  • Companies are taking 1 month and 27 days more than expected to fill their vacancies.
  • Elsewhere, SmallBusinessPrices.co.uk has created a ‘Skills Map‘ to demonstrate regional differences in skills and job demand.  This reveals that the Financial Sector has the greatest vacancy demand in our local South-West region.

All of the above data is highly timely, with The Confederation of British Industry having called on the government to do more to tackle the national skills gap in this week’s spending review.

How are employers overcoming the skills shortage?

Returning to ‘The Open University Business Barometer 2019,’ businesses are taking a number of different approaches to their recruitment crises.

  • Almost 1/2 (48%) of companies have made use of temps to fill skills gaps.
  • 44% have increased their spending on recruitment services.
  • 38% have offered higher salaries in a bid to lure more applicants.
  • While 31% have felt forced to recruit lesser skilled candidates.
  • 61% of employers believe they will need to focus on internal talent development skills to increase their productivity and efficacy.

Advice for candidates and employers…

Skills shortage advice for candidates:

  • This remains an opportune time to apply for new jobs. Dependent on your industry, you may find yourself competing against smaller candidate pools. This naturally increases your chance of securing an interview.
  • However, don’t rest on your laurels! It is misguided to think that a skills gap creates a pure ‘candidate market’ in which you don’t have to make any effort in your applications. Businesses are still looking for the right skills, personalities and attitudes for their openings and it’s your job to prove that you possess them!
  • You’ll find a regularly updated list of local openings here.

Skills shortage advice for employers:

  • Ensure you’re investing your time and budget in the best recruitment approach for your business. We’re proud REC members, which means that we’re working to the highest industry standards. In the REC’s words, it is about “making sure that employers get the best talent and right people to help their businesses grow”.
  • Don’t be afraid to join the 48% of companies working with temps while searching for your permanent team members. This offers a myriad of benefits, including the chance to tap into local talent, spotting candidates that may provide longer-term solutions, and even the opportunity to refine your search needs as the result of your insights.
  • It can help to review your candidate search criteria. Are there skills that you’re overlooking or candidates who could easily adapt to your needs?

We would be delighted to discuss your temporary, permanent and/or contract staffing requirements. Please call the office on 01225 313130 or email us today. 



What employers want – key candidate skills

What do employers want to see in their future team members and how can you demonstrate these abilities?

It’s always helpful to remember that (for the most successful companies!) the recruitment process is about far more than checking experience boxes. Business leaders are also looking for candidates that possess the appropriate skills to enhance their performance and complement the rest of the team.

One study has uncovered six such skills that employers want to see in their recruits:

  1. Adaptability (71.5%)
  2. ‘Resilience’ (57.5%)
  3. Being prepared to ‘upskill’ (39.7%)
  4. Being able to change (31.3%)
  5. Striking a ‘balance between work and personal life’ (29%)
  6. And networking skills (16.4%)

The first four skills all relate to the rapid pace of change now facing employers, as discussed on HR News.

This focus on change also cropped up in our recent post on the most wanted trainee skills – which is also relevant to non-trainees; especially those looking to enter a new sector!

How to demonstrate these skills:

As ever, you don’t want to treat these skills as CV or interview buzzwords so much as useful starting points.

Brainstorm examples that demonstrate how you’ve used these skills and what you’ve achieved as a result. Use these examples in your CV where relevant and practise discussing them in an interview scenario.

‘Relevant’ means you’re also tying your examples back to the skills and attributes required by each individual employer. I.e. you’re carefully reading individual job advertisements and specificiations and then tailoring your approach to match.

An interesting note on skill number three…

You’ll see that being prepared to upskill came in third place and this was discussed further in the HR News piece…

  • It suggests that 89.3% of employers are taking a ‘proactive approach’ to employee skills development for a variety of positive reasons. All sounds fantastic, yet this response is not supported by other research conducted on employees themselves.
  • In reality, only around 46% of professionals believe they are receiving adequate training. Advice for employees in this position can be found here.
  • Business owners may benefit from conducting some internal reviews to ensure that they’re not overestimating their skills development efforts. After all, this has long been a powerful staff retention tool.