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UK Job Adverts Reach Post-Lockdown High

Job postings in the UK have reached their highest level since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Recruitment & Employment’s (REC) latest Jobs Recovery Tracker, total job postings in the UK were up to 1.10m in the first week of August, with almost 126,000 new adverts posted between 3-9 August – up from 1.4m in the previous week and the highest weekly total since lockdown began.

Yet this is still well below the 1.35m job postings active in the first week of March, before lockdown.

There was a notable rise in job adverts for gardeners (up 24.8%) while there were also large increases in postings for debt collectors (up 20.9%), construction workers (up 15.8%), painters and decorators (up 14.1%), LGV drivers (up 14%) and bricklayers (up 13.3%). Demand also increased for childminders (up 12.1%) and playworkers (up 16.9%).

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC, warned that many firms will face cash struggles in September and October and that unemployment will rise, but said the data shows a recovery is underway.

“Construction sites have reopened, logistics companies are dealing with high demand, and with people spending more time at home, many have been looking to spruce up their house and gardens.

“The increase in adverts for childminders and playworkers is interesting and perhaps linked to more people returning to offices and workplaces in the near future.”

The largest weekly increase in job adverts was seen in Redbridge & Waltham Forest (up 23.7%), while four of the other top ten hiring hotspots were in Northern Ireland – Derry City & Strabane (up 11.5%), Ards & North Down (up 11.0%), Fermanagh & Omagh (up 9.2%) and Causeway Coast & Glens (up 8.7%).

The biggest falls were seen in North Ayrshire (down 15.6%) and Swindon (down 11.5%), although only five counties/unitary authorities registered a decrease in job postings compared to the previous week.

The Jobs Recovery Tracker is produced by the REC in partnership with Emsi, using its Job Postings Analytics data which is harvested from tens of thousands of job boards.

How to Help Your Clients Ace a Virtual Job Interview
May 15, 2020
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Job interviews done by video, for example, using Skype, are becoming more common.

You need to prepare for virtual interviews differently than you would for normal face-to-face interviews.

Plan where you’ll do the interview

Choose a quiet place with no distractions, and use a computer or laptop computer with a webcam and good internet connection.

A business-woman doing a video job interview
  • Have a plain background that won’t distract your interviewer.
  • Dress like you would for a ‘normal’ interview.
  • Sit comfortably.
Get used to talking to someone using a computer
  • Practice talking to the webcam, not the people on-screen, so you’re more likely to be looking your interviewer in the eye.
  • It’s OK to look at the screen when you’re listening.
  • Try using a headset – it might keep you from talking too loudly or quietly.
Body language is important

Body language is important in virtual interviews.

If you look off to the side of the computer or fidget, it will stand out to your interviewer.

  • Be upbeat and smile during the interview.
  • Try not to slouch in your seat.
  • Keep your hands down, you may even want to rest them in your lap.
The advantage of a virtual interview

Your interviewer won’t be able to see any helpful notes you stick to the edge of your screen.

You can stick a few things on there, as long as your body language and eye contact aren’t affected too badly. A note could:

  • remind you to smile or talk more slowly
  • be a question you want to ask at the end of the interview.
Do a test run

Ask a friend to help do a test run a day or two before the interview.

That way, you can check how you look, sort out any technical issues that come up and generally make sure things go smoothly.

  • Use an account name that’s professional and easy to remember such as your first initial and last name.
  • Make sure your background and face are well-lit so the interviewer can see you clearly.
  • Make sure your picture isn’t shaky.
Emotional Intelligence – the New Skills Gap
February 24, 2020
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By Nick Kirk – Managing Director at Michael Page.

Employers want to hire people with emotional intelligence skills but candidates aren’t listing them on applications

There has been a lot of buzz recently around emotional intelligence, often referred to as EQ. Back in 2016 the World Economic Forum named emotional intelligence as one of the most important workplace skills needed for success in 2020.

Emotional intelligence is being aware of one’s own emotions and being able to handle interpersonal relationships with empathy.

However, recent research by Michael Page has uncovered a worrying new trend in the UK jobs market: an emotional intelligence skills gap.

The key finding of our study shows that there is a clear disconnect between the skills employers want and those jobseekers are displaying when it comes to emotional intelligence.

Half of the employers surveyed cited emotional intelligence as increasingly important for those entering today’s workforce, ranking it higher than work experience or even holding a degree. However, this is rarely mentioned in candidates’ applications.

Despite emphasis being placed on emotional intelligence by those in hiring positions, just 0.4% of PageGroup applicants over the last year reference empathy in their CV – a key tenet of emotional intelligence – while just 0.81% mention listening as one of their skills.

Emotional intelligence skills are consistently being ranked higher than more traditional skills such as foreign languages or financial acumen.

Essentially emotional intelligence in the workplace comes down to understanding, expressing, managing good relationships and solving problems under pressure.

Our capacity for emotional intelligence is one of the most obvious ways humans have the edge over technological counterparts. What is worrying is that candidates are not highlighting these skills to potential employers, despite clear demand for them.

To help address this I urge companies to look at jobseekers who have clearly evaluated their skillset and highlighted the most valuable ones.

Introducing EQ into the recruitment and assessment process will help to identify the candidates with the right attitude and mindset to work well with colleagues, be advocates of change, and deliver against your organisation’s objectives.

For instance, self-awareness is key to emotional intelligence. Employees who spend time observing and reflecting on their emotional responses to different situations, and who pay attention to their physical reactions, can have a great impact on company culture.

Active listening skills and motivation are also two invaluable traits of EQ. People who possess them understand issues from different perspectives, demonstrate optimism and a desire to build valuable relationships with others, and continually improve their skillset.

However, just as it is important to seek new hires with emotional intelligence, it is vital for managers and other business leaders to operate in emotionally intelligent ways to meet the needs of today’s workers.

Stress can trigger irrational behaviour that is often attributed to low emotional intelligence. Consider the best way to reduce the stress levels within your business – whether that’s allowing employees to take a break from their desks, listen to music, or go for a walk.

Much as people would regularly exercise to stay in shape physically, they need to regularly work on their emotional intelligence skills so that they improve.

Investing in emotional intelligence will result in more engaged, committed employees who will help to move your business forward.

We need to ensure the potential emotional intelligence skills gap in the country is addressed before it becomes a major business issue.

Business leaders should focus on driving change from within their own organisations so employees can follow their example. As the importance of emotional intelligence becomes widely recognised, I hope we will see jobseekers adapt their applications to reflect the behaviour demonstrated by businesses – with both putting EQ high on their list of priorities.

Five Podcasts Every Recruiter Should Listen To
December 30, 2019
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Podcasts are getting pretty popular: more than one in three Americans listen to one, and more than one in five tune in regularly—an audience that’s almost doubled in just a few years, according to Pew.

A lot of this is due to the fact that there are podcasts for just about everyone. whether you’re interested in comedy, history, politics, quirky fiction, or guided meditation, there’s a podcast for you—and yes, there’s even podcasts just for recruiters.

With that in mind, we did some searching and came up with a list of the best podcasts for recruiters, including specific episodes to get started on. While only a couple are explicitly about recruiting, all are packed with insights that’ll come in handy when you’re talking to candidates, sourcing recruits, and making hiring decisions. They’re also free and make a boring commute a billion times better.

1. HBR Ideacast

“A weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in business and management from Harvard Business Review,” this show offers awesome insights from one of the most respected business magazines.

With almost 600 episodes to choose from, there’s a ton of shows on hiring and HR—like how Google manages talentfixing the college grad hiring process, and the era of agile (i.e., freelance) talent.

But you shouldn’t limit yourself to the episodes explicitly about recruiting: you have just as much to gain from other episodes that just happen to apply to recruiting—like how to negotiate betterhow to conduct great interviewshow to give constructive feedback, and how to take control of your time.

Recommended episode for recruiters: Our Delusions About Talent, with Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of business psychology, on the myths and misconceptions that still run rampant in talent acquisition.

2. Slate’s Working

“A podcast about what people do all day,” Slate’s Working podcast is just that: an in-depth, deep-dive interview that explores the ins and outs of various jobs.

With almost 100 episodes on everything from “How Does a Google Coder Work?” to “How Does An Appliance Repairman Work” and even “How Does a Clown Work,” this show offers intimate explorations of every kind of job imaginable—including positions you’re probably recruiting for.

As a recruiter, the reality is you’ve probably hired people for jobs with only a fuzzy idea of what their day-to-day work will actually entail. Instead of a high-level overview, Working gets into the nitty-gritty details: what’s the first thing a retail manager does in the morning, what a CIA analyst’s cubicle looks like and so on.

It’s a fascinating way to look at work—and one that recruiters will find especially enlightening as it will help you better understand and engage with the people you are recruiting.

Recommended episode for recruiters: The “How Does the Head of HR Work” Edition, an interview with Kevin Fanning, VP of Talent & Culture at the startup incubator Cogo Labs.

3. The Best Part of My Job

A podcast created by a recruiter, Lars SchmidtBest Part of My Job has a similar premise as Slate’s Working with a decidedly more recruiter-y slant.

Inspired by Lars’ favorite interview question, the show features interesting discussions with people like Josh Narva, Global Head of Talent at Sonos, and Victor Nyugen-Long, former General Manager of Experience Innovation at Audi of America.

While it’s more focused on the traditional business world than the quirkier occupations featured in Working, it’s no less interesting, with friendly conversations about people’s favorite parts of their jobs (and the parts that suck).

Recommended episode for recruiters: These 4 Things Will Transform Your Candidate Experience, with Gerry Crispin, Co-Founder of CareerXroads.

4. Freakonomics Radio

A weekly podcast exploring “the hidden side of everything,” this uber-popular podcast from Stephen Dubner and Steve Levitt (authors of the also-popular Freakonomics book) looks at the world through the lens of behavioral economics.

If you slept through Econ 101, don’t worry—it’s much more about the hidden parts of human nature than dull things like inflation. This podcast is anything but boring, as it investigates everything from the gender gap and cheeseburgers to crime preventionand the secret to being more productive.

As a recruiter, you know how important it is to understand how people make decisions and what fuels our inner desires. And that’s exactly what Freakonomics is all about, from the upside of quitting (which you could use to convince a passive candidate to jump ship) to how ads manipulate our emotions (which can help you write a better job description).

Recommended episode for recruiters: How to Be Less Terrible at Predicting the Future, which looks at why we’re usually so off-base with our predictions (e.g., whether this person will be a good employee), and how to get a little bit better at forecasting the future.

5. Recruiting Future

“A weekly podcast dedicated to innovation and futurology in recruitment and HR,” Recruiting Future is the definitive podcast by recruiters, for recruiters.

Hosted by talent consultant Matt Alder, this show takes a close, considered look at virtually every topic under the talent acquisition umbrella—from in-house recruiting, to global talent branding, to people analytics.

Featuring interviews with the industry’s brightest stars, making this podcast a regular listen is an effortless way to keep up on the latest trends and topics in recruiting on your morning commute.

Recommended episode for recruiters: How to Source the Very Best Talent, with Chris Shaw, Director of Talent at Meteor (and former recruiter at Twitter and Google), where they talk about that time Google hired 300 people in 11 months and how to turn passive candidates into active ones.

If you haven’t already, now’s a great time to enter the brave new world of podcasts. It’s a brand new medium, but one that’s catching fire for a reason: they’re free, easy to consume, informative, and entertaining. And if you’re looking to fit one more podcast into your life, allow us to recommend the LinkedIn Speaker Series, featuring inspiring speeches from all across the professional world.

UK Employers ‘Pause’ Job Hiring as Demand Falls to Seven-Year Low
December 13, 2019
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Employers in Britain have “hit the pause button” on job hiring, according to a survey of the labour market that shows demand for new workers has tumbled to a seven-year low. ManpowerGroup said years of strong jobs growth had ended in 2019 as Brexit uncertainty and a slowdown in global trade took their toll on business confidence.

The recruitment firm’s survey of 2,101 employers found the outlook for the first quarter of 2020 was weak with hiring intentions by firms in London at a 10-year low.

A balance of companies, when asked whether they intended to hire additional workers or reduce the size of their workforce in the coming quarter, registered +2%, the lowest figure since 2012.

London, which has among the largest number of employers and usually offsets poor figures from the UK’s regions, was among the worst affected after hiring intentions dropped five percentage points from the fourth quarter to -1 for the first three months of 2020.

However, the east Midlands, described by the survey as a “bastion of positivity for many years”, fared even worse: employer hiring confidence fell 15 percentage points to -2%, its lowest level in more than a decade. Wales dropped to -1%, Yorkshire and the Humber hit -1% and the north-east declined to -4%.

ManpowerGroup said the normally buoyant market for workers in London’s financial sector began to dry up in the summer and had contracted ever since, particularly among accountancy and law firms that once aggressively recruited staff.

The report, which is used as a key economic indicator by the Bank of England and the Treasury, says: “Declining levels of confidence in almost every sector and region paints a sluggish picture for the start of 2020, with only a few bright spots.”

Official surveys have found that hiring has stalled and wage growth has begun to decline as firms said they were preparing for the threat of a no-deal Brexit and a slowdown in trade amid the US-China dispute over import tariffs.

The Office for National Statistics said in a report covering the three months to September that employment had fallen by 58,000 – the biggest drop since May 2015.

Chris Gray, the director of ManpowerGroup’s UK division, said: “Employers are hitting the pause button after many years of strong hiring. Signs of a slowing global economy, a general election and a lack of clarity about Brexit are weighing heavily on the minds of employers leading to many hiring plans being put on ice.

“Employers want certainty before they can make investment decisions and firm up hiring plans.”

Gray said employers continued to complain about skills shortages among engineers, IT staff, trades people, customer service representatives and medical professionals, with “little sign of them easing in the foreseeable future”.

A better than expected increase in hiring intentions across the West Midlands followed a resurgence in manufacturing and broader growth across the main cities around Birmingham.

The balance of firms reporting improved confidence increased by two percentage points to +13%. Manpower said while some sectors of the car industry were struggling, there was an increase in investment across the aerospace, trains, defence and shipping components supply sectors.

“We’re seeing an increase in investment in skills in the automotive sector and its supply chain focused particularly on electric vehicles and new technologies,” Gray said.

“One factor here is the ‘Greta Thunberg effect’, which is speeding up the demand for electric cars. The challenge will be filling the gaps – many employers are reporting difficulties finding skilled staff, and wage inflation is also driving up costs.”

The Six Qualities That Will Get People Hired
December 4, 2019
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ARTICLE BY: Laura Holden, Communications Executive – Reed Online Ltd 

AUTOMATION, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION MEAN THE WORLD OF WORK IS CHANGING RAPIDLY. GIVEN THE SPEED AND SCALE OF DISRUPTION THAT IS TAKING PLACE, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR PEOPLE LOOKING FOR EMPLOYMENT?

We know from our work here at Prisoners of Conscience that as roles continue to evolve, those responsible for hiring are placing greater importance on transferable soft skills. They see them as assets that retain their value. This is why, in addition to our bursary fund which helps persecuted human rights defenders to requalify in the UK, we have also launched an employability panel that is designed to support the development of these important personal qualities.

Research backs this up. According to the latest 2020 Salary Guide from the recruitment consultancy, Robert Half, 57% of hiring managers give more weight to soft skills when making a hiring decision.

Victoria Sprott, international talent director at Robert Half, confirms: “Having the right technical skills and qualifications is essential, but it’s your soft skills that will set you apart from other jobseekers.”

We wanted to know more about which soft skills were deemed important, so we asked leading recruiters for their views. They told us that although there will be some variations depending on the role and sector someone is applying to, generally speaking, the following attributes are high in demand

1.Proactivity 

Proactivity – or what can also be described as “gumption” – was named by all the recruiters as a must.

“If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t wait to be told what to do, then it’s likely you’re ticking off one of the key attributes employers look for. Taking the initiative in work situations, such as leading a meeting or prioritising your to do list effectively, will show your boss that you’re able to work independently and unprompted”, says Laura Holden, Communications Executive at Reed Online Ltd.

2.Adaptability 

Another sought-after skill is the ability to be flexible and adapt to the changing needs of the organisation.

“It’s important that you’re able to adapt quickly and remain resilient to any changes that might occur within your department, or even just your daily tasks. Whether this involves helping out colleagues in other parts of the business, or being able to prioritise your workload to accommodate a new project – having a ‘can-do’ attitude will definitely put you in good stead with new employers,” says Reed’s Holden.

The team at Charity Job agrees. Their spokesperson highlighted how when you work in the charity sector you can spend every day with some of society’s most vulnerable people, which can take “a certain sort of drive”. “More often than not, you’re working with limited resources and funding. You need to think creatively to bring in funds and be adaptable if those goals aren’t met,” they said.

3.Communication

An article about soft skills would not be worth its salt if it didn’t mention communication skills. Indeed, all of the recruiters we spoke to said that effective communication was essential for any type of job.

“Hiring managers value excellent verbal, non-verbal and written communication skills in candidates as it allows them to successfully convey important information, ideas and opinions to stakeholders at all levels of the business,” says Sprott at Robert Half, before adding how “effective communication skills can strengthen business relationships and improve productivity and teamwork.”

Brian Dwane, managing director at Broadstone Resourcing, concurred, emphasising how even in roles that have traditionally been seen as a support function, the ability to communicate is critical.

“Accountancy used to be about sitting in an office and dealing with spreadsheets, but these days many accountancy roles are going down the business partnering route, which is about driving the organisation forward, liaising with others, and explaining complex financial information in a way that everyone within the business will understand, particularly those with no finance experience,” he said.

4. Business sense 

Business acumen is also a highly desired quality that employers look for in new recruits.

“Professionals with strong commercial awareness of the business environment, industry and market trends, who are able to recognise new opportunities and proactively leverage their insights to gain competitive advantage are sought after,” says Robert Half’s Sprott.

5. Empathy

Just as the world of work is changing quickly, so too are people’s career motivations.

“With things such as the climate crisis and mental health at the forefront of our daily lives, we want more from our jobs than just a pay cheque — we want purpose and passion, and we want to leave a positive imprint for the generations that come after us”, says the Charity Job spokesperson, adding how this means that being able to demonstrate tact and sensitivity towards colleagues and customers can pay dividends.

Broadstone Resourcing’s Dwane agrees. “Empathy is vital. A business isn’t just the numbers, or the products or the sales targets. It’s crucial that all employees can see a business for what it is – its people – which means having empathy for those you work with.”

6. Mindset matters 

Finally, businesses value a positive mindset. A person with the right mindset is seven times more valuable to their company than a regular employee, according to research by Reed.

“We get it – not everyone is a ‘glass half full’ kind of person – but being mindful of your wording, and trying to focus on the positives, will show any employer that you’re willing to look for the best outcome in situations,” confirms Reed Online’s Holden.

A positive mindset is certainly a quality that our bursary grantees demonstrate. The funding we provide allows these courageous.

Job Site Created for Special Educational Needs Sector
October 30, 2019
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Senploy, the UK’s first recruitment website dedicated to uniting prospective employers and candidates within the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) sector, has been launched by a charity worker.

Amy Allen, who works as the lead school administrator at Cheshire’s The Seashell Trust – an organisation which supports children and adults with severe and complex learning disabilities – decided to create the SEND niche jobs site as an antidote to a myriad of generalist job sites that did not reflect the specialist needs of the sector.    

Following a year’s planning to build and launch the online platform, the 39-year-old from Wilmslow hopes that Senploy will provide an easy solution to recruiting the best possible individuals to work within SEND, saving time and money for employers in the process.

With a guiding ethos that “niche generates quality” Allen believes that the site is set to become the industry’s go-to jobs destination which will, in turn, reinvigorate the sector with an influx of high-calibre talent.

Employers, including educational establishments, agencies, care homes, local authorities and families will be able to reach experienced professionals quickly and easily via a CV database of quality candidates and will also be able to manage their own recruitment processes through Senploy’s back office function.

Meanwhile, those working in fields such as occupational therapy, special needs teaching, social work, rehabilitation therapy, speech and language therapy and developmental psychology, will be able to access a large number of relevant job opportunities on one straight-forward portal.

Senploy founder, Amy, said: “There are hundreds of generalist job websites out there, but I’ve seen first-hand how they tend to generate too many irrelevant CVs… or not enough relevant ones depending on how you look at it!

“A niche sector needs its own dedicated site, since roles within SEND tend to be extremely specialised. It takes a certain type of person with a specific skill set to work in this area. The industry as a whole will benefit from having instant access to a rich pool of candidates with the right experience and jobseekers won’t have to upload their details to hundreds of different job boards. 

“Our mission is to help cut costs, save time and promote targeted two-way recruitment – we want to simplify the entire process and breathe new life into the sector by helping to match the right people to the right SEND role. At the end of the day, individuals with special educational needs and disabilities deserve to have professionals with the right skills working with them, so that they can achieve their life goals. We’re here to help make that happen. 

‘Alexa, Help Me Get a Job at McDonald’s…’

McDonald’s has launched the world’s first voice application process, to help attract curious but time-poor candidates from all walks of life.

The following article is by Harriet Hounsell, chief people officer at McDonald’s UK

We are a restaurant business, but we are also a people business. We have

more than 120,000 employees, and every day they welcome almost four million people into our branches up and down the country. Over the past few years roles in our restaurants have changed – our self-order screens have freed up our people from behind the counter to focus on hospitality. We’re employing more people, from all backgrounds and all life stages, but in slightly different roles.

Used in the right way, we’ve found that technology can be both an enabler for current employees and a way to attract and recruit new staff. It can also help simplify the job application process.

Research from CareerBuilder found that 60% of jobseekers quit in the middle of filling out online job applications because of their length or complexity. Jobsite Indeed also found that the average application form can include a vast 63 screening questions. As employers we should not be creating barriers for prospective employees and the application process should reflect the brand or business they are applying to. For us that means the process should be quick, convenient and fun.

So we are launching the world’s first voice-initiated job application process, giving candidates the ability to start their application simply by saying ‘Alexa, help me get a job at McDonald’s.’ Users will jump-start their application by answering a few basic questions including their name, job area of interest and location. Potential applicants will then receive a short text message with a link to continue their application process.

This isn’t about simplicity for the sake of it. There is a business imperative behind making it easier to attract younger time-poor recruits; they help to foster diversity in the workplace and have the potential to refresh old ways of working. We must be ready for Generation Z – those aged 16 to 24 and the first fully-digital generation – who are finishing their education and joining the workforce.

Voice assistants have more than seven million daily users in the UK, according to Deloitte. So we think they’re a fun and powerful way to reach candidates from all walks of life – whether they’re looking for their first job or to return to the workplace after a career break. The fastest growth in users is actually among 55- to 75-year-olds, who are using voice assistants on a daily basis to do things like getting weather updates or playing music. By utilising Alexa and Google Assistant we will be reaching an audience who might not have previously thought about a job at McDonald’s.

Regardless of background, we hope this initiative encourages people to get in touch about a wide variety of roles in our 1,270 restaurants across the UK and Ireland. We believe it’s important to look at new ways to recruit and understand if that’s what people want from us.

There’s never been a better time for businesses to embrace how we use technology in our daily lives. This marks the next step in how we are redefining the application process, casting our recruitment net wider as a result.

Harriet Hounsell is chief people officer at McDonald’s UK

How To Attract, Motivate and Keep IT Staff – A Candidate’s View
August 29, 2019
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Every day, tens of thousands of people stream into some of the biggest offices in the country, wearing one of two coloured ID badges. One identifies the person as a permanent employee, while the other shows the person is a third-party contractor.

The following article is by Graham Smith, Head of Marketing at Microsoft recruitment partner – Curo Talent.

Curo Talent

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), predict that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 months’ salary. The cost of hiring a contractor can be equally high. Your hiring strategy needs to work; getting it wrong can be costly, and getting it right requires informed decisions.

In Curo Talent’s latest report: IT Talent Acquisition; the candidate’s view 2019, 875 IT contractors and IT permanent workers from across the United Kingdom gave their opinion on employment issues. There is some distinction between temporary and permanent staff viewpoints but also some common ground, enabling important conclusions to be drawn, backed up by data.

When asked what attracts them to a company, pay was the number one priority for both IT contractors and permanent staff.

Yet this was very closely followed by a desire for interesting work in both groups. 23 percent of IT contractors put interesting work as a close second, and 20 percent of permanent staff agreed.

The cerebral nature of IT work means that members of the IT Department need to be kept busy and engaged on projects. Too much downtime leads to boredom. This is underlined by numbers showing that 57 percent of non-IT staff have been in their current job for more than 5 years, compared to just 29 percent of IT workers.

So, while the salary and day rate may be the first thing a candidate looks at in your recruitment advertisement or job description, it’s equally important to make the job sound interesting and something that will look good on their CV. Invest time in crafting recruitment adverts that excite IT candidates, and maybe get your existing IT staff to critique the first draft.

For both permanent and contract staff the first port of call when seeking work is a recruitment agency, followed by job boards for contractors and company websites for permanent staff. What is revealing is that on average 30 percent of candidates have never applied to a job advertised on social media. While platforms such as LinkedIn may be valuable for hiring managers researching CVs, it would appear it’s not the first place candidates go to when hunting for new work.

So, what would push an IT worker to start job hunting? In both groups, poor management came out on top. 30 percent of IT contractors would leave due to poor management, compared with 19 percent of IT permanent workers. Without jumping to conclusions on the subtext of these responses, humans cannot help but draw on past experiences to answer questions like this.

Does this indicate that 30 percent of IT contractors have felt the effects of poor management in the past? Potentially. Clearly, it’s important for all staff to be onboarded at new companies effectively, before being supported and assessed fairly. It’s equally important that managers are trained to motivate their team and identify concerns in order to reduce staff churn.

When candidates were asked about their greatest challenge over the next 12 months there was a difference of opinion. Permanent staff stated increasing their salary and a better work life balance were the top of their list.

For IT contractors, concerns over IR35 and work life balance were the big challenges.

The extension of IR35 reforms into the private sector is due to take place in April 2020 and is already starting to cause confusion and chaos. Essentially, if any contracting work is classified as ‘inside’ the IR35, earnings will be taxed as if the contractor is a permanent employee.

For IT contractors, concerns over IR35 and work life balance were the big challenges. The extension of IR35 reforms into the private sector is due to take place in April 2020 and is already starting to cause confusion and chaos. Essentially, if any contracting work is classified as ‘inside’ the IR35, earnings will be taxed as if the contractor is a permanent employee.

So, do hiring managers have to make any changes in the present to accommodate for a mass exodus of contractors? Apparently not. IT contractors were also asked if IR35 will change their mind about doing contract work and only eight percent stated that it would. 

This underlines that IT experts choose contracting for a better lifestyle, not just for tax advantages. Working when and where they want, on projects they select, at negotiated rates, gives them the freedom and choice they value.

Employers Turn to Training as Businesses Struggle to Recruit
July 10, 2019
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More than two-thirds (68%) of UK employers have struggled to find skilled workers this year, with Brexit uncertainty making talent scarcer.

An annual report on the skills landscape of the UK, The Open University Business Barometer 2019, reveals that organisations spent £4.4 billion on temporary staff, recruitment fees and increased salaries in the past 12 months due to difficulties finding employees with the right qualifications and experience.

Nearly half (48%) hired temporary staff to plug gaps, while 44 per cent spent more than intended on recruitment fee

Others (38%) took a different approach, increasing salaries in order to make roles more attractive, and nearly a third (31%) were forced to hire at a lower level than intended.

Approach to addressing the skills shortageExpenditure 2019Expenditure 2018Percentage Change
Extra spending on recruitment fees£1.6 billion£1.2 billion+33%
Training to boost skills of those hired at a lower level£1.2 billion£1.5 billion-20%
Increasing salaries on offer£0.9 billion£2.2 billion-59%
Spending on temporary staff while role remained vacant£0.8 billion£1.5 billion-47%
Total£4.4 billion£6.3 billion-30%

The skills shortage comes as the UK employment rate stands at the highest level since 1971, while unemployment is at its lowest since 19741. The dearth of skills in the labour market means that recruitment is taking one month and 27 days longer than anticipated, forcing many to seek external help – leading to a 33 per cent rise in spending on recruitment fees in total.

Three in five (63%) employers report that their organisation is currently facing a skills shortage (up from 62% in 2018). And while spending on recruiters is on the rise in an attempt to attract necessary skills, there is also a greater focus on re-training existing staff, with more than half (53%) of organisations increasing their training and development budgets in the past year – by an average of 10 per cent.

In the past, many employers have relied on buying talent rather than building it, but with more than three in five (62%) expecting it to become harder to find the right skills in the next year many are now looking internally.

Three in five (61%) think that they will have to focus on developing talent from within their organisation if they want to guarantee access to the skills they need in order to be productive and efficient. And the benefits of this approach can be felt throughout an organisation, with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills citing training as one of the most commonly cited channels through which spillovers of knowledge and productivity can occur2.

While one in five (21%) employers think that Brexit will open up new growth opportunities for their organisation, the current uncertainty surrounding the UK’s departure from the EU may be a key driver of this sudden change in gear. Three in five (59%) senior business leaders agree that the skills shortage will worsen after the UK officially leaves the European Union, which may explain the shift to focus on home-grown talent.

While seven in 10 (71%) employers agree that developing the skills of the existing workforce is a more sustainable approach, it is crucial that any training helps to support business objectives, while offering as much as value as possible. The Open University’s flexible, technology-enabled degrees and apprenticeships, allow employees to fit learning around work and personal commitments, whilst being able to stay local and contribute to their community – and at the same time nearly three in five (58%) employers believe is less disruptive than other forms of training.

David Willett, Corporate Director at The Open University, responded to the findings: “It’s encouraging that employers are looking to invest in the talent of their existing workforce, with businesses increasingly turning to strategies that will serve their skills requirements for the years to come. While many are starting to focus more on building up skills from within, rather than buying them in, it is essential that training ultimately delivers results, while fitting around employees’ existing commitments.

“Current uncertainties may see businesses understandably focusing on the short term, but initiatives like work-based training are essential for those looking to remain agile and competitive throughout in a rapidly changing business environment. Training, such as apprenticeships, provides a long-term solution to UK organisations looking to adapt to challenges on the horizon such as Brexit, digitisation and new technologies.”

Further findings, including specific skills shortages by region and sector and employers’ expectations for the year ahead, as well as details of The Open University’s offering, are available in The Open University Business Barometer 2019.

Methodology: The Open University Business Barometer was developed using the expertise and experience of The Open University in conjunction with quantitative market research amongst a range of businesses across the UK. A full methodology, detailing all extrapolations and calculations, can be found on The Open University’s business website.

The Open University commissioned PCP Research Limited to undertake a survey of 950 senior business leaders across the UK between 9 and 21 May 2019. The data was weighted by UK nation, region, business size and sector. Data for financial calculations was analysed and extrapolated by Third City.

About The Open University: The largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 2 million students, and it currently has almost 175,000 current students, including more than 7,000 overseas.

Over 75% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and 78 per cent of the FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses. The OU has been delivering work-based learning to organisations since the mid-90s, and has an employer satisfaction rating of 98%, according to the Skills Funding Agency. The OU launched its higher and degree apprenticeships offering in 2016 to provide employers with flexible, technology-enabled apprenticeship training for new and existing staff in leadership and management, digital, policing, healthcare and nursing.

In the latest assessment exercise for university research (Research Excellence Framework, 2014), nearly three quarters (72%) of The Open University’s research was assessed as 4 or 3 star – the highest ratings available – and awarded to research that is world-leading or internationally excellent. The Open University is unique among UK universities in having both a strong social mission and demonstrating research excellence.

Regarded as the UK’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units, as well as games, videos and academic articles and has reached audiences of up to 9.8 million across a variety of online formats including OpenLearn, YouTube and iTunes U.