Many businesses have been taken by surprise as they look to scale up their operations in response to positive economic forecasts and rising confidence, fuelled by the success of the UK's vaccination programme, easing of lockdown restrictions and pent-up spending power.
Allen Associates has this week published its second Oxfordshire Recruitment Market Overview of 2021 with market insights and practical advice for businesses on how to overcome the challenges and get the best out of today's jobs market.
Kate Allen, Managing Director at Oxford-based Allen Associates, explained: "As recruitment in Oxfordshire really starts to take off this quarter, it is important that employers have a realistic grasp of the local jobs market. We know from conversations with our clients that many have been caught off guard by the complexities and nuances of the market and are already finding it a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Employers have told us that they wrongly assumed the market would be the same as it was coming out of the last recession, with a large pool of great candidates ready and waiting, and they have been surprised to find this is not the case.
"There are many reasons for this. While some sectors of the economy have been decimated, many others have survived and some have even thrived in spite of – or because of – the pandemic.
"Competition for highly sought-after or niche skills has not abated, particularly in sectors such as life sciences, medical research, engineering and technology, and these roles are arguably as difficult to fill now as they were before.
"As more recruitment opportunities have opened up this year, most of the candidates whose roles were made redundant in the early stages of the pandemic and who were actively looking for work, have now found employment.
"Oxfordshire businesses of all sizes and in all sectors are currently looking to bolster their back office and support functions. We specialise in recruiting for PA and Administration, Marketing, HR and Finance staff at all levels – and most of the job applicants that we are registering now are currently employed rather than out of work. That is not to say that they are not serious about making their next career move. They are! However, they are also more cautious and selective now than they were a year ago so to a certain extent, they are in the driving seat which means employers have to move that much faster, 'sell' themselves well and make a compelling offer."