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Is your business struggling to find the staff it needs?

A recent JobsOutlook report from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) has found that 48 per cent of UK employers expect to face a shortage of talent for permanent jobs in 2017. But is it the same here in Oxfordshire? And what can be done?

By Kate Allen, Managing Director, Allen Associates

I’ve always felt that we are very lucky to live and work here in Oxfordshire. It is a fantastic place to do business and has weathered the storms well.  On the whole, companies flourish here. 

We benefit from two world-leading universities and interesting sector ‘clusters’ such as biotech, pharma, publishing and motorsport.  Our county has remained strong during the recent recession and businesses continue to express their confidence in spite of UK, European and global uncertainties.

The REC’s findings on talent shortages are concerning, but the good news is that companies are growing. The report also found that 30 per cent of respondents feel that economic conditions are improving, up from 27 per cent in the previous rolling quarter.

I feel that these findings are reflected here in Oxfordshire too. Looking at our own facts and figures, we have seen a steady rise in demand for permanent staff, up 16 per cent on our previous year. Our Executive division has performed solidly since its launch last year, a further indication of local business confidence.

But perhaps the most interesting figure is the dramatic 62 per cent increase we have seen in Temp to Perm contracts compared to the year before. This increase may have been brought about as a result of uncertainty after the Brexit vote and a desire to ‘try before you buy’ – a theory backed up by an alternative report from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCO).

It’s not all plain sailing.

Despite all the positives, there are significant recruitment challenges for businesses ahead. With almost full employment in the county, talent acquisition is a very real concern. Oxfordshire is an expensive place to live, so attracting people with particular skill sets or industry experience, for example, can be difficult. And businesses are constantly having to evolve to keep up with the ever-changing legal landscape not to mention the pace of recruitment, demand for the best people, attracting and retaining millennials and the increasing interest in the gig economy and the opportunities it offers. All of this – without mentioning wider economic and political factors!

What can be done?

While there is no magic solution, there are steps which can be taken to improve your business’s appeal:

  • Put candidate attraction and retention at the top of your strategic agenda.
  • Review your recruitment processes and make sure they are flexible, user friendly and you can move quickly. You don’t want to lose the best candidates due to cumbersome processes.
  • Make sure your salaries and benefits are competitive.
  • Take a good look at your employer brand. Are you appealing to your target audience? Are you showing what it’s really like to work in your company? Are you using social media channels to the best of their advantage?
  • Network, network, network – be proactive about how and where you find your talent.
  • Constantly review and improve relationships with your recruitment partners.

Is your business facing a talent shortage? How are you dealing with the challenges? If I can help in any way, please contact me at