UK Recruitment: Navigating the Skills Shortages

In 2019, the UK recruitment industry is facing a number of significant challenges. To better understand what they are, and assess how recruiters can overcome them, Bullhorn went straight to the source: the Global Recruitment Insights and Data (GRID), which is based on a survey of more than 2,000 recruitment professionals globally. It is designed to get their take on the top industry trends for this year. We identified a number of trends, such as how these professionals were handling the skills shortages, which I address in this post. In a subsequent post, I’ll discuss how recruiters are coping with the digital transformation and the uncertainty of Brexit.

Overcoming the Skills Gap

For 78% of UK recruiters, skills shortages are a top hiring challenge. The majority (59%) also highlighted an ‘opportunity divide’ between affluent and less privileged talent. This gap makes it difficult for people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access employment opportunities, which itself contributes to a major hiring issue: the lack of available talent.

The talent shortage needs swift attention – and our survey highlighted a number of potential solutions. According to 77% of recruiters, employers need to accelerate salary increases to attract and retain the best candidates, while recent research from CIPD has shown that basic pay expectations have risen in the private sector by 0.5% to 2.5%. However, due to uncertain economic conditions and concerns around long term sustainability, such an approach may not be possible for all.

Another solution, and perhaps a more practical one, is to reskill the workforce. This notion was supported by 77% of respondents. Recruiters are encouraged to view the skills shortage as a talent opportunity rather than a crisis. The lack of available skills has boosted the demand for recruitment agencies, presenting them with an opportunity to elevate their services to not only place talent, but also create talent, by advising on how to reskill candidates.

PREMIUM CONTENT: European Employment Barometer

In fact, this indicates an expanding view of what the modern recruitment firm needs to offer – namely, an all-encompassing workforce solution that manages talent placements, as well as provides strategic consultancy on any and all talent needs within a client’s business. Low unemployment is a key factor driving this shift. The reality is that people with the right skills do exist –however, many of them are already employed and not necessarily considering moving jobs.

Our research also revealed that 60% of recruiters believe businesses with a more diverse pool of employees are more productive. Adopting diverse hiring practices can help bridge ‘the opportunity divide’ and result in finding wider and deeper pools of available talent. Intelligent CRM and ATS technology, for example, can help recruiters take a more diverse approach to hiring and extend their cross-generational reach. During the candidate screening process, they can identify applicants who might not be the most obvious choices, but who do exhibit relevant qualities, skills, and experience to be put forward for a role.

Looking beyond outdated sourcing tactics such as cold-calling and bulk emails, and toward personalized multichannel communications informed by data,can help recruiters successfully engage with candidates across the generational divide. In fact,45% said they find millennials (those between 22-37 years old) the hardest group to reach – despite being one of the generations that is most active across digital channels. Given that millennials make up an increasingly large percentage of the UK workforce, recruiters certainly need to improve their methods of engaging with this demographic.

In my next post, I’ll discuss how recruiters are responding to the digital transformation of the industry with the growth of machine learning and artificial intelligence. I’ll also share how they feel macropolitical issues such as Brexit are affecting the industry.


Peter Linas

Peter Linas
Peter Linas is international managing director at Bullhorn.

Peter Linas

Share This Post


Recent Articles

Powered by ·