Now HR feels the skills shortage pinch

The professional recruiters' trade body is calling on the UK government to introduce an "internationally viable" visa system in a bid to overcome the nation's skills shortage.

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The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) made the call after an analysis of HR job vacancies showed a substantial rise this year, with internal recruiters most in demand.

Ann Swain, APSCo chief executive, said: “As the UK’s economic pressures mount, a decline in vacancies is to be expected. However, since the UK remains in the grips of a skills shortage, hiring teams and recruitment professionals alike will continue to be in high demand.

“While HR will have a key part to play in narrowing the skills gap, we will also need to call on the country’s policymakers to implement an internationally viable approach to boosting the UK’s access to skills, alongside building a more attractive entry route into the country for highly skilled self-employed professionals.” 

The APSCo data, provided by business intelligence specialist Vacancysoft, showed that HR vacancies were now 13.5% higher than this time last year "with the profession becoming a priority area for businesses to recruit for".

More than a third of vacancies were for specialist recruiters, which the report said was no surprise given the rising skills shortage in the UK. Training/learning was the second largest HR specialism in demand, accounting for 14% of total vacancies.

"In contrast," added APSCo, "the specialism which is growing both in volume and in share is HR generalists, which has seen an increase of 64% in terms of the monthly average between last year and this one."

Comparing sectors recruiting for HR, technology came out top with 3,994 vacancies so far this year. The retail sector came second with 3,833 HR roles advertised to date.

The association expressed surprise that the data revealed comparatively little activity in the financial sector. "Given the importance of Banking to the UK economy, it’s surprising that only seven per cent of HR vacancies are attributed to this sector. However, this small share could be linked to the cost-of-living crisis and the inevitable impact on the UK economy."

By region, London was by far the area that has seen the most recruitment activity, with 8,995 HR vacancies posted so far this year, accounting for almost 40% of the national total. SE England recorded the next highest total with 2,637 jobs advertised over the first seven months of 2022 - 11.6% of the total.

This week's 'What Workers Want' survey, conducted by multinational recruitment and human resources services company Hays and based on 5,100 responses from both employers and professional staff members, found that 77% of employers were concerned about skills shortages.

Four-fifths of organisations said they would consider hiring staff based on their aptitude with the intention of upskilling them. However, only half the workers surveyed said they were satisfied with the learning resources provided by their employers.

Simon Winfield, managing director of Hays UK and Ireland, said: “Amidst a challenging hiring market, it’s positive to see that employers are more willing to recruit staff who might not tick all the boxes.

"This might mean recruiting staff with the intention of upskilling them, or hiring staff from different industries and providing training opportunities. Employers need to work hard to find unexpected talent and step away from relying on the same recruitment pools that they may have been in the past."
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