So recruiters need to be even more professional.
Let’s look at some basic facts. Since 2009, more than two million new jobs have been created in the UK. That’s despite another fact, namely that many jobs have been lost in the public sector. The unemployment rate has fallen, from over 8%, to 5.5% and things are, more or less, back to where we were before the Pandora’s box that was the (western) world banking system sprung a leak and the global economy tanked.
Ah yes, but surely it’s all due to lots and lots of people working in low value, low paid, zero hours contract jobs? Well, apparently not. A recent article by Andrew Sentance of PwC, formerly a member of the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee (and therefore you’d think someone who has some idea what’s going on), counters many of the prevailing myths about employment.
He says that three quarters of the increase in employment since 2009 is in full-time jobs. Moreover, despite being a hot political potato, zero-hours contracts account for just over 2pc of all jobs in a workforce of 31 million. Similarly, the idea that much of the growth in employment is in low-value jobs isn’t borne out by the evidence. Instead, most of the new jobs are in professional, scientific and technical services. Services is the key word here, because employment in manufacturing has not really changed since 2009, and the number of construction jobs has actually gone down. Other hi-tech sectors have also grown, especially information and communications where 150,000 new jobs have been created in the last five years. Services jobs account for over 80% of the total.
What’s most significant though is that the number of unfilled vacancies is approaching 750,000, a rise of 250,000 in only two years and a source of concern to many. Although there are lots of jobs that are still relatively straightforward to fill, the increasing unavailability of candidates, noted in many economic/recruitment surveys, is the issue.
This skills shortage demonstrates the need for recruitment consultancies to ensure that they really do what they say they do, not waste clients’ and candidates’ time by churning out CVs and hoping that one sticks. It is incumbent on our industry to ensure that a) where employment is ‘easy’, it operates efficiently and effectively to reduce time to hire and cost to hire as well. That’s simply a reflection of the laws of supply and demand. Conversely, where there are difficulties in sourcing great candidates, the value of the expertise required to find these people increases. That’s also a reflection of the laws of supply and demand.
The crash in 2008 wiped out many inefficient recruitment firms. It was a cathartic, but in some ways necessary, process. One would hope that today the industry is in better shape. The challenge for recruiters is to get this balance between supply and demand right, both of candidates and the fees we charge. At the risk of sounding pompous, if there are three-quarters of a million unfilled jobs in the UK then someone isn’t matching at least some of the candidates correctly. Yes, we need more education, more of a pipeline, especially in the STEM areas, but above all we need more professionalism, including better use of technology where appropriate, in the recruitment industry. There are a lot of jobs out there and good recruiters can help fill them.