Recruitment and retention drive needed to fill skills shortage, says CIPD

Organisations are experiencing both escalating skills shortages and increased competition for talent, with more than three quarters reporting recruitment difficulties in the last year, according to the latest CIPD/Hays Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey.

The survey shows that many organisations are having to look externally to meet the changing skills needed in-house or ramping up retention strategies, despite one of the most commonly used ones – increasing pay – not showing much signs of success. The CIPD says they need to give equal attention  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 of respondents are making efforts to develop more talent in-house, almost three-quarters continue to recruit externally for key talent/niche areas. The CIPD says 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.

The survey shows nearly two thirds of organisations agree that the skills needed for jobs in their organisation are changing and to address the skills gap, 44% of organisations anticipate an increase in headcount in 2015. This is reflected by an increase in resourcing budgets, although most say their talent management spend has remained the same.

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.”

When it comes to recruiting, the survey found 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. A third of organisations said that they are putting more effort into the quality of individuals being hired and four-fifths had made efforts to improve their employer brand as part of their efforts to attract key talent.

Barney Ely, Director of Hays Human Resources, said: “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.”

To address their recruitment difficulties, almost half 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.

Retention is increasingly an issue. The survey found that more than three-quarters 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, suggesting retention initiatives need to be closely aligned to employee preferences as well as meeting organisational objectives.

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