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Businesses in the UK are increasingly looking to blend youth with experience in order to safely negotiate the current turbulent economic conditions according to the latest & lsquo;Tracking UK Recruitment’ quarterly report by professional staffing recruitment consultancy, Barclay Meade.

The report revealed a marked increase in the demand for senior management and board level candidates among UK businesses in the second quarter of 2011, with a quarter of employers (25%) seeking senior managers and highly-skilled candidates compared to just 15 per cent in Q1. A further 11 per cent of employers are recruiting at board level, a rise from five per cent.

Meanwhile the demand for entry level candidates and graduates also increased, with almost four in 10 (39%) employers recruiting at this level compared to just five per cent in Q3 of 2010. 

But the report by Barclay Meade – part of the AIM listed recruitment business Matchtech Group PLC – also suggests the prospect of a further contraction of the economy continues to dent business’ confidence when it comes to taking on new staff.

Amid growing economic, political and social uncertainty – including concerns about a eurozone crisis and rising inflation – the threat of a double-dip recession remains a real concern for more than one in five (22%) businesses. This replaces rising fuel prices and the impact of the Government’s austerity measures as the key factor affecting UK businesses’ recruitment strategies.

This level of uncertainty is further supported by findings which reveal the number of firms operating under a recruitment freeze increased to 14.3 per cent in Q2 from 13 per cent in Q1. However, organisations from the financial services sector bucked this trend, with the number falling from 25 per cent to 13 per cent. In south-east England, the number of companies enforcing a freeze fell for the fourth consecutive quarter.

Elsewhere, finding suitable candidates continues to be an ongoing challenge for UK employers, with more than a quarter (27%) highlighting the skills gap as an adverse recruitment issue. This issue was most keenly felt in the business services sector, with 36 per cent of organisations citing a shortage of skilled candidates as a problem. Similarly the candidate skill shortage continues to trouble the manufacturing industry with almost a third of firms (30%) highlighting it as the greatest barrier to recruitment. In Scotland, however, the number of firms unable to recruit because of the lack of appropriately-skilled staff fell by almost a quarter (23%). 

Barclay Meade’s & lsquo;Tracking UK Recruitment’ quarterly report also revealed. 

Almost half of employers (46%) voice one of their main frustrations with candidates at interview is that they look better on paper than they do in practice

The financial services sector has the highest number of businesses recruiting for administrative position (44%)

16% of manufacturing firms are currently recruiting above pre-recession levels

The shortage of skills among candidates is a barrier to recruitment for more than one in four (26%) of employers in the West Midlands

Meanwhile, employers will be encouraged by the report’s findings on candidates’ ability to perform at interview, with the percentage citing frustration at the number of candidates appearing better on paper than in person falling from 55 percent in Q1 to 46 percent in Q2.

Despite being a marked improvement, the findings still highlight the severity of the skills shortage and the need for the recruitment industry to work harder to deliver the right candidates for the right jobs at the right time.

Nigel Lynn, managing director of Barclay Meade, says: “Recruitment continues to be a contentious issue for many organisations, and our report clearly shows a deceleration in the growth of the jobs market as hiring activity increases for the fourth consecutive quarter, albeit at a much slower rate. 

“While it is encouraging to see an increase in the demand for entry level candidates, it is clear that employers are increasingly looking to more experienced individuals to navigate companies out of the economic mire.

“With staff affected by the Government’s austerity measures are gradually entering the job market, competition for roles among candidates is becoming increasingly keen. The upshot of this is that employers will be able to consider individuals who have precisely the level of experience required to fill vacancies.”

Barclay Meade’s findings will make for interesting reading for the Government, particularly in light of its recently-launched Work Programme – the new work scheme which sets out to provide 2.4 million unemployed people in the UK with help to find jobs over the next five years.


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