Recruitment freeze thaws - but do we have the skills to swim?

A report suggests recruitment levels are set to double in 2011. But employers may struggle to find the right people to fill the new roles.

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
PwC has surveyed more than 1,000 HR directors, and found that 28% of companies are planning to hire extra staff next year. That may not sound like a frenzied recruitment drive, but it's a massive increase on the paltry 13% figure recorded in 2009.
 
Of these newly hungry recruiters, 15% said they expected to increase headcount significantly, compared to 13% simply replacing jobs cut in the downturn. Meanwhile the number planning cuts has shrunk from 43% in 2009 to just 16% this year. A good dose of pre-Christmas cheer, then: perhaps business is finally starting to put the recession behind it. All those public-sector workers facing lay-offs may have somewhere to hang their hats after all.
 
But perhaps we shouldn't be rushing out to the streets waving our CVs in celebration. While it's all well and good creating jobs, it seems finding the people actually cut out to do them may prove to be a mite trickier. Some 53% of respondents to PwC's survey said the biggest challenge in the coming year would be a shortage of skills. Which seems a massive shame given the good news of all this job creation: what's the point in all those shiny new name badges if they're pinned to people who aren't up to the task?
 
The shortages are generally found at the trade skills level: welders, fabricators and bench joiners are very much in demand. Meanwhile the care sector is struggling to fill vacancies too, with nurses in very short supply.
 
However, while we may have to wait a while until our education and training system is properly sorted out, we may not have to look too far for people to fill the roles: given the expected fall-out from our nearest neighbour's current fiscal turmoil, you may soon find that joinery or hip replacement being done by a highly-skilled worker with an Irish accent.
 
But skills aren't the only concern here. Businesses are also troubled by global mobility and employment laws, which were cited as prime worries by 34% and 23% of respondents respectively. Perhaps the PM needs to take a break from his quest to measure the nation's happiness and address these concerns; then the smiles may magically return.

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