Op-ed: Julie Towers


Thoughts from Julie Towers, Managing Director, Penna, on recruiting

Well the first financial quarter of the year is completed, and Article 50 has been triggered, and we’re all wondering what this means for our economy and industry.

If I had to pick a word to describe how clients are feeling/behaving I’d say it was ‘steady as we go; they are being a little cautious about major investments in hiring, but there’s much activity around essential change and reorganisation to prepare for further cuts in funding and to take advantage of new opportunities being created in commercial trading and revenue generation.

The recent REC Jobs Outlook presented an interesting picture of the first quarter: In the three months to January, one third (33%) of respondents thought that economic conditions were improving, whilst 29% thought that they were getting worse. London was the only region in which more respondents thought the national economy was deteriorating (31%) than improving (25%). Over one in three employers (36%) expect confidence in hiring and investment decisions to get better, up two percentage points compared to last month.

Perhaps with Brexit and IR35 changes it’s not surprising that there’s a mixed picture. In fairness, we are all becoming more familiar with uncertainty being the norm so it’s likely we’ll see this kind of pattern continuing throughout the next 2 years as we navigate our way through the UK’s exit from the EU.

One thing that we can guarantee though is that those difficult to fill vacancies are not going to get any easier. The REC reported that 49% of employers expect to see a shortage of suitable candidates for permanent roles in at least one job function and 38% expect to see a shortage of suitable agency workers in at least one job function. Also, our recent MJ/Penna survey of chief executives showed that the range of vacancies proving difficult to fill had increased and changed, with the lack of finance talent topping the survey for the first time in 5 years. Not surprising though when you think of the demand for good finance professionals to manage less money and the unprecedented changes/complexities of public sector arrangements.

Also not surprising is REC’s report that public sector organisations are hiring more staff in the first quarter than the private sector. Some of this we believe will be partly due to the transfer of temporary/interim workers to payroll due to the IR35 changes and to the growth of arm’s length organisations and new trading arrangements to generate revenue for investment as the public sector get even more creative about how it delivers public services.

That creativity is leading to an interesting array of new and unique career opportunities and that can’t be a bad thing which reminds us that the jobs we are recruiting for today will not be those for tomorrow and for recruiters, it is further confirming the need to be agile in your recruitment approaches and channels. It might be challenging being a recruiter in a complex and uncertain market, but it’s also exciting.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

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Op-ed: Julie Towers