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Employers face headache to fill key roles as 3 in 4 report recruitment difficulties

17 June 2015

New survey highlights renewed focus on attracting strong candidates but more must be done to develop internal talent

Organisations are experiencing both escalating skills shortages and increased competition for talent, with 3 in 4 organisations (78%) reporting recruitment difficulties in the last year, according to the latest CIPD/Hays Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey. The survey, launched today at the CIPD’s annual HR Software Show and Recruitment exhibition, shows that many organisations are having to look externally to meet the changing skills needed in-house. However, the CIPD is warning that equal attention needs to be given to the development of internal staff, in order to build a skilled and sustainable workforce in the long-term.

The survey of 520 UK-based HR professionals, which examines resourcing and talent planning strategies across private, public and voluntary sector organisations, found that while nearly half (45%) of respondents are making efforts to develop more talent in-house, almost three-quarters (74%) continue to recruit externally for key talent/niche areas. In fact, 44% of organisations anticipate an increase in headcount in 2015.

Managers, specialists and technical staff are proving to be the most difficult vacancies to fill, followed by senior managers / directors. The most common reasons for recruitment difficulties varied by role, but a lack of specialist skills and industry or general experience were the most common. A fifth of those who have difficulty recruiting administrative or manual workers report that pay is the key challenge.

With hiring externally becoming increasingly difficult, and two thirds (63%) of organisations agreeing that the skills needed for jobs in their organisation are changing, it’s clear that employers face significant talent management challenges ahead. To address the skills gap, 44% of organisations anticipate an increase in headcount in 2015. This is reflected by an increase in resourcing budgets, which have risen for over a third (35%) of respondents compared to just 8% of organisations in 2012 and 2013. In contrast though, the majority of organisations said that their talent management spend has remained the same (51%), prompting the CIPD to recommend that, alongside resourcing strategies,  organisations need to invest more in developing internal talent, with a forward-focused view on how their skill requirements may develop in coming years.

Jessica Cooper, Research Adviser at the CIPD, said:
“Organisations are increasingly feeling the pinch when it comes to sourcing key but scarce skills. In the ‘make or buy’ debate, the ‘buy’ decision still seems to predominate investment in talent, but hiring new talent is just part of the solution for addressing skills shortages. Once people are in a role, they still require ongoing development to achieve their full potential and meet ever-changing and critical skills needs. Organisations also need to consider how they can align recruitment activity with an increased focus on internal talent development, in order to build skilled workforces that can easily flex to fulfil future skills needs.”

Where organisations are looking to increase their headcount, the survey found that recruitment partners continue to form an essential link between businesses and the quality candidates they want. Twice as many organisations as in previous years are reporting that they have formed a closer partnership with their recruitment partners and consider them integral to attracting top talent, while only a third of respondents have reduced their use of a recruitment partner over the last 12 months.  Given the need for strong candidates, a third (33%) of organisations said that they are putting more effort into the quality of individuals being hired and four-fifths (86%) of organisations had made efforts to improve their employer brand as part of their efforts to attract key talent.

Barney Ely, Director of Hays Human Resources, commented:
“As the economy recovers, it is becoming increasingly difficult for employers to find the professionals they need to take advantage of growth. The fact that 34% of employers are working more closely with their recruitment partners shows that organisations are recognising this challenge and increasing their efforts to attract the right people through a more effective recruitment process.

“The survey highlighted a number of approaches that employers would consider to address their recruitment difficulties. Almost half (47%) of organisations are considering targeting candidates who are not looking to move while 43% would consider recruiting those with potential, but without experience, and then equipping these staff with the skills needed by the organisation. It is important that employers start to implement these ideas soon if they are to address the skills gap before it becomes too detrimental to business success.

“With falling unemployment and candidate confidence to move jobs increasing, staff retention is also firmly back on the agenda. Improved pay and benefits is one solution, but it is those organisations which are able to invest in learning and development opportunities in order to retain their most talented professionals and attract new talent that will find themselves at an advantage in a growing economy.”

The survey found that more than three-quarters (77%) of organisations have experienced challenges retaining staff. Most have taken steps to address retention, through improvements to pay, benefits, learning and development opportunities and improving line managers’ people skills. However, while ‘increased pay’ was a common tactic, it was also most commonly ranked among organisations’ least effective retention methods, highlighting how retention initiatives need to be closely aligned to employee preferences as well as meeting organisational objectives.


CIPD Press Enquiries
Helen Ablett / Katie Flynn / Mark Williams
Tel: 020 8612 6400

Hays Press Enquiries
Kathryn Iacono
Tel: 0207 200 3760

Notes to Editors

• Resourcing and Talent Planning 2015 is available for download at:
• 520 HR professionals responded to the survey

About the CIPD
The CIPD is the professional body for HR and people development. The not for profit organisation champions better work and working lives and has been setting the benchmark for excellence in people and organisation development for more than 100 years. It has more than 135,000 members across the world, provides thought leadership through independent research on the world of work, and offers professional training and accreditation for those working in HR and learning and development.

About Hays
Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Asia Pacific and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 31 December 2014 the Group employed 8,748 staff operating from 244 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2014:

– the Group reported net fees of £724.9 million and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £140.3 million;
– the Group placed around 57,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 212,000 people into temporary assignments;
– 24% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific, 42% in Continental Europe & RoW (CERoW) and 34% in the United Kingdom & Ireland;
– the temporary placement business represented 59% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 41% of net fees;
– Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA