Acute skills shortage 'felt across Europe'

A survey of thousands of companies across the UK and EU has highlighted the skills shortages being experienced across the continent.

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Based on a survey of 4,371 company HR executives, the survey concludes there is "a red-hot recruitment battle" underway and a power shift in the jobs market "with the balance tipping firmly in favour of employees".
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Conducted by European HR and payroll services provider SD Worx, the survey found that when it comes to attracting candidates, 59 per cent of employers were confronting talent shortages, with Belgium the worst affected nation (65 per cent), followed by the UK, the Netherlands and Ireland. Just over half of UK companies said the current recruitment situation was the worst they had ever experienced.The situation was better in countries such as Sweden, Italy, Norway and Spain, where fewer than a third of companies reported difficulties attracting employees.

'Unprecedented' situation

Colette Philp, UK HR country lead at SD Worx, said: “Recruitment issues are now running at record highs with companies facing a raft of major challenges to overcome at speed to keep apace in the heat of an intense war for talent."With an unprecedented lack of availability in the workforce, our research confirms that employers will have to be more inventive and investment orientated to ensure business growth and survival."This means thinking strategically to open up new pools of talent in the existing workforce through investing in training and development as well as instituting the new, yet hardened, employee expectations of flexible working hours and arrangements to land essential talent.”

Staffing new business models a challenge

Six in ten companies in the survey reported that it was now taking longer to fill vacancies with 56 per cent saying the "war for talent" was now their businesses' biggest challenge.New business models and digitisation were increasing the demand for new profiles, said the SD Worx report, with the research pointing to a changing economy shaped by low employee availability.Employers cited five core areas that would determine their companies’ ability to attract top talent - making flexible working a major priority; assuring employees over job security and financial stability; improving the work and social environment; identifying meaningful, interesting and challenging work for employees; and improving training and development opportunities.

New approaches to recruitment and retention

Ms Philp added: “From a top-to-bottom level we need to rethink how we do recruitment. This means paying careful attention to new learning curves, opportunities for development, and the adaptability of potential candidates for a job.“Right now, it’s a job hunter’s market and the onus is firmly on employers to step up to new expectations by hitting all the right notes in terms of pay, flexibility, purpose and culture.“But despite the urgency, employers don’t have to support that switch alone. For example, they can make use of education and training, or they can work with interim contracts.“This way companies can still succeed in filling vacancies while increasing employee potential. Taking this fresh approach to recruitment practice has enormous potential to reshape not just growth and productivity but also employees’ very own career trajectories with a company.”

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