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ONS Labour market data: “There is a gargantuan skills gap in the jobs market” – reaction from recruiters and HRs

Following on from the ONS Labour market data (April) published this morning, five recruitment and HR experts share their views: 

Kieran Boyle, MD of Gloucester-based CKB Recruitment: “There is a gargantuan skills gap in the jobs market. This is easily the most candidate-driven market we have ever experienced. The fight for talent is being won by the companies who have embraced flexible working, as people now want this as a rule. The firms who have stuck to wanting everyone in the office five days a week are really starting to struggle to attract the best talent, as well as retain it. Post-pandemic lifestyle changes have seen the amount of people already in a job looking elsewhere go through the roof.”  

Sarah Loates of Derby-based Loates HR Consultancy: “Candidates want the moon on a stick. Demand from employers remains obscenely high while supply is exceptionally low, so a humdrum job description posted randomly on a faceless job board just isn’t going to cut it. In the current market, recruiters have to put in some serious legwork and really ‘sell’ the role and the company, highlighting the unique employee value proposition. Put simply, why should candidates bring their talents to you? With this in mind, be prepared to be flexible but equally know when to say no if it will massively skew your internal consistency and team dynamic. If you can, always ensure you put flexibility front and centre, as this is rapidly becoming a deal-breaker for many candidates.”

Julia Kermode, founder at Nantwich-based IWork: “Employers’ restrictive approaches to job creation are effectively precluding thousands of brilliantly talented people from applying for vacancies. Now that we are moving post-pandemic, companies are reverting to type and are less inclined to offer flexible working, cutting out huge swathes of potential candidates such as those with caring responsibilities, disabled people, those from disadvantaged backgrounds, part-timers, and many more. It’s about time businesses recognised the value of attracting a diverse workforce as there are so many people who are willing and able to work, and who want to contribute to the economy, but don’t have the option to do so because far too many companies have legacy mindsets.”

Louise Burns, director of Tyne and Wear-based Nineteen Recruitment: “It’s a bittersweet time for recruiters. We are thrilled at the number of job opportunities while lamenting the extreme lack of candidates. Employers are competing like crazy for the right candidates, driving salaries up into the stratosphere. With many businesses entering a potentially delicate period of post-pandemic recovery, this sort of situation is completely unsustainable.”

Sandra Wilson, director of Ipswich-based recruitment and HR firm, Cottrell Moore“Speak to most recruiters and they are loving how busy it is with the number of available jobs at a record high. However, employees are being counter-offered on a daily basis, which is pushing salaries in some sectors up to preposterous levels. The result is a situation that is simply unsustainable. The hope is that common sense will start to prevail and that people will realise that compromises need to be made rather than outright demands. The jobs market is too vulnerable and facing far too many economic and geopolitical headwinds to continue on its current trajectory.”

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