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The Talent Crisis and Recruitment Business Models to Beat It

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As the demand for fantastic talent grows, so does the crisis facing recruiters. Fifty-seven per cent of recruiters in the UK and Ireland feel the skills shortage is worse now than it was five years ago, and as technological advances in AI and Automation continue to change the skill sets desired by employers, the talent crisis remains a concern to the employment market.

Industry expert, Kevin Green, Chief Executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, spoke recently about the current employment market and his thoughts on the main business models that are most likely to result in success for agencies. So, what does your business need to take into consideration to beat the talent crisis?

The UK Labour Market

The good news for recruiters is that – despite ongoing talent challenges – there remains plenty of demand for their services. Green spoke positively about the UK labour market’s current strength. In fact, globally, only Germany is performing better. By the end of 2018, the employment rate was 75.3 per cent, the highest it’s been since 1971, and the unemployment rate just 4.3 per cent. However, this means the UK labour market is highly competitive: while there are 810,000 job vacancies every month, candidate availability has worsened month on month for four consecutive years. This growing skills shortage has also driven the shift from permanent to temporary staffing, as employers struggle to fill posts with long-term workers. Is your agency taking into account changes such as this? Why not consider the way you engage with contract and temporary workers, and make the most of the rising gig economy?

Candidate Availability

Clients are facing three distinct kinds of candidate shortages, explained Green. They are: labour (which he defines as ‘blue collar’ work, usually salaried at the National Living Wage); skills (roles which need qualifications to do the job, such as engineering), and talent (the people sought by employers in order to bring drive, energy and strategic thinking to a business).

Green attributed the shortages to four key factors. The first is the UK’s ageing population: over the next ten years, there will be fewer people of working age, meaning that there will be an even higher demand for experienced candidates. Another is the increased demand for flexibility as more professionals are opting out of full-time, permanent contracts. In fact, 16 per cent of the UK labour force (5.5 million) are independent workers.

Changing social attitudes is also a reason why some businesses struggle to attract suitable candidates. For example, millennials are more driven by values and seek companies that are ethical and ‘give back’ to society. They’re also increasingly entrepreneurial, meaning it’s harder for firms to retain them: Accenture research found 17 per cent of millennials wanted to run their own business in 1991, compared to 83 per cent in 2011.

The final factor fuelling candidate shortages, according to Green, is post-Brexit immigration. Currently, seven per cent (2.2 million) of all UK jobs are filled by EU workers and Green feels our labour market needs more immigration, not less. With concerns about whether the government will create an immigration system that’s going to work post-Brexit, fewer EU workers are looking for employment in the UK, putting further pressure on companies’ ability to source talent.

Three Key Recruitment Models

Against this backdrop of candidate shortages, Green pointed to three recruitment models that are most likely to succeed.

The first is inch wide, mile deep. This is the model used by hyper-niche specialists. These experts have narrow markets and their knowledge of them is exceptional. To succeed, your agency must know where to find very specific candidates and how to utilise technology, including social media and engagement strategies, to target them. A global reach will mean your agency has access to a wider pool. Recruiters following this model can tap into hard-to-find talent pools, securing their position as indispensable consultants for their clients.

The next is low cost. This model works with the contingent market and relies on high volume to compensate for low margins. Consequently, agencies employing this model need to be excellent at winning tenders. Recruiters will be working on large numbers of positions and filling them at a brisk rate, so they must be effective operational processors.

The final model is the hybrid and, as the name suggests, it’s used by generalist agencies recruiting in lots of sectors and for roles at varying levels of seniority. Such agencies need different, tailored internal practices with appropriately skilled and knowledgeable recruiters.

With the candidate shortage not going anywhere and clients increasingly seeking more consultancy-style services, it’s vital for recruitment agencies to make strategic choices about how they will position themselves to remain expert service providers. Does your agency’s model and tactical planning make the most of its existing strengths


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