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June 25, 2010

Firms struggle to find skilled recruits

More than two thirds of businesses struggled to recruit suitable staff last year, despite record levels of jobseekers, research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has revealed.

The CIPD survey of 500 businesses between January and December 2009 found that 68 per cent had problems recruiting suitable candidates – primarily due to a lack of necessary skills. However, the figure fell to 49 per cent in businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

“Even though we are flooded with people in the labour market, there is still a problem recruiting people with specific skills that firms need,” said CIPD research adviser, Jill Miller. “Businesses are facing increased competition to attract and retain the talent needed for their future success, with twice as many telling us that the pool of available talent has fallen.

“The smallest organisations may not be having as many recruitment difficulties as they don’t have as many vacancies,” she added. “They are also adapting well to the current climate by multi-skilling their staff, and redeploying staff into different areas of the business.”

Remarkable Recruitment founder, Darren Simmons, said that although there are high levels of unemployment, many skilled people are not risking moving jobs until the market stabilises.

“It’s a competitive market at the moment for employers as well as candidates, so even if they find someone with the right skills, they may not be able to afford to pay them the salary they want,” he said. “Also, a lot of unemployed people are sending their CVs far and wide and not necessarily applying for the jobs they are best suited to.”

Simmons added that small businesses should focus on staff retention. “They should be hanging on to their skilled staff,” he said. “That might mean offering them a bit more holiday or flexibility. It’s a lot cheaper to put people through training courses than it is to lose them and start recruiting again.

“If they need to recruit new skilled staff, small firms should advertise on job boards that split their vacancies into specific technical areas – for example, Jobsite and Career Engineer,” said Simmons. “When the candidates come to interview they should sell the benefits of working for a smaller firm, and ensure that the individual not only has the right skills but the right mentality for a small business environment.”

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, unemployment in the UK reached 2.49 million in December 2009, its highest level since 1995.