Brexit intensifies war for talent: CIPD/Hays study

The latest ‘CIPD/Hays Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey’ shows the impact of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, and the changing nature of jobs on recruitment and talent planning.

Recruitment word cloud
New research from the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, and recruitment company, Hays, shows 75 per cent of the 1,000 HR professionals surveyed experienced recruitment difficulties in the past 12 months.A similar number (72%) expect competition for well-qualified talent to increase because of the outcome of last June’s EU referendum to 2020. Almost two-thirds (61%) also predict ongoing difficulty recruiting senior and skilled employees over the next three years.

Time right for recruitment strategies review?

Nigel Heap, managing director of Hays UK & Ireland, said: “As we move towards an EU exit, organisations should consider reviewing their recruitment strategies to help them secure access to the right talent.“Although we are still faced with some on-going uncertainty, most sectors remain competitive so now isn’t a time for complacency.“Not only do employers need to evaluate how they are perceived in the marketplace so they can attract the people they need, but they should also ensure they have sufficient measures in place so they are better able to justify their decisions, continue to secure investment for recruitment and respond to any changes.”

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Impact of technology on jobs and skills

While respondents are unequivocal on the impact of Brexit on skills supply – a response reflected in the latest official data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which shows a sharp fall in net long-term international migration – they are more divided on the impact of technology on jobs and skills.Six in ten (61%) strongly disagree or disagree that technology and automation has replaced some of the jobs in their organisation. Yet, 65 per cent of respondents agree that the skills needed for jobs in their organisation are changing.Digital skills (54%) feature in the top-three skills most likely to increase in demand in the next 12 months alongside leadership (58%) and commercial awareness skills (51%).“Organisations need to have an integrated talent strategy in place to support a targeted and measured approach to recruitment,” continues Mr Heap. “With the skills required for roles changing and an emphasis on strong leadership, digital and commercial awareness skills, providing professional development and training is key to improving retention and helping to fill skills gaps.”

Responding to the UK’s skills challenges

The joint CIPD/Hays study found one of the most common responses to the increasing competition for talent is employers positioning themselves more effectively in the labour market. Almost nine in ten (89%) organisations said they have been making efforts to improve their employer brand in the last year.More than two-fifths (41%) believe the length of their recruitment process has led to the loss of potential recruits in the last 12 months. Perhaps in recognition of this, the survey shows approaches to recruitment are changing.While over half of respondents conduct all recruitment activity in-house, there is a growing trend to combine in-house and outsourced approaches. In 2017, 44 per cent followed a blended approach, compared to 40 per cent in 2015 and 28 per cent in 2013.There are changes too to applications and interviews. The most popular method of selection this year is competency-based interviews, overtaking in popularity interviews based on CV/application forms. An increasing proportion of organisations are also using distance interview techniques, such as telephone (2017: 65%; 2015: 62%; 2013: 56%) and video/Skype (2017: 52%; 2015: 46%; 2013: 30%).Interestingly, following the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, more organisations this year are offering and plan to offer apprenticeships. However, nearly a third believe that the current system of education is poor at equipping young people with the skills their organisation needs

More focus on strategic recruitment

Claire McCartney, associate research adviser at the CIPD, comments: “Today’s research highlights a mounting war for talent and the subsequent need for organisations to sharpen their focus on strategic recruitment and effective retention, to attract and maintain the skills they need in an increasingly competitive labour market.Brexit, and its impact on the labour market, should act as a stimulus for organisations to focus their attention on building a stronger, more productive workforce, by staying alert to potential changes in their skill needs and being agile in their response.“However, they can’t effectively do this unless they are measuring, evaluating and then strengthening their recruitment and talent strategies, based on a real understanding of their existing talent profile.“Even the simplest forms of measurement can be effective, such as tracking the turnover rate of new hires, seeking feedback from candidates on their experience and monitoring the performance of new recruits. This will give organisations the insight to attract, select and retain people with the best skills and potential for their business.”

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