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Parkside release Thames Valley hiring & firing report

The company began by asking about planned headcount increases in the next 3 months and 30% of respondees indicated they would be looking to hire.

This is a 3% increase on the last survey. Departments where hiring is due to take place include accounting (specifically credit control), sales, technical support and marketing.

26% of companies polled are still experiencing skill shortages, up from 25% in Parkside's last survey. Areas of shortage include IT, sales, accounting (specifically financial accounting, bookkeeping and financial planning and analysis) and statistics and research.

Headcount freezes are affecting 34% of clients questioned with restrictions not being lifted until the end of 2015 or beyond. This is down from 39% in the company's previous survey and continues the upwards trend of companies looking to hire in the next 3 months.

60% of respondees are optimistic about improvement in the Thames Valley economy with 40% believing we’ll see an uplift in both Q2 and Q3 2014.

Parkside asked its respondees to comment on business prospects in the Thames Valley. Specifically recent growth figures have indicated a positive upward movement for the UK economy and 2014 looks like a year of expansion. 

Parkside's survey asked recruitment companies whether business prospects in the Thames Valley reflected the reality of their business and if they'd be recruiting as a result. 32% of respondees stated this did indeed reflect their current situation with many organisations enjoying growth in 2013 and planning the same again this year. 

Other businesses highlighted acquisition as a reason for growth with process efficiency creating additional headroom. Some respondees highlighted growth in volumes however these were coupled with poor margins, while some companies admitted that expansion would take place outside the UK. Parkside's previous survey highlighted 25% of companies anticipating growth so the new figures indicate an upward trend which hopefully will continue throughout 2014.

Using recruitment agencies is still the preferred hiring route for most companies who completed the survey. Reasons sited include strength of database, relationship between hiring manager and agency and understanding a clients business. Robust agency procedures were one of the most popular reasons which included candidate screening, matching and compliance checks. Other methods include word of mouth with cost highlighted as the primary driver. Social networks including LinkedIn scored highly as did the use of company’s website and job boards. Several respondees indicated their in house talent acquisition team as the primary source for recruitment.

This is the fourth Snapshot the company has conducted which gives it the opportunity to compare data over a period of time and over the four questions it asks regularly headcount increases and skill shortages have remained fairly constant. However, the company says headcount freezes and improvements in the Thames Valley economy both show a recognisable downward /upward trend which reinforces everything it hears about the strength of the UK and Thames Valley economy. 

Finally, after several years of austerity it appears the Thames Valley economy is gradually moving into a period of growth. 

Simon Brooker, partner and head of BDO LLP in the Thames Valley, commented, “Following a period of slowly improving fortunes, the indicators would now appear to show that the key economic battleground has shifted from one of austerity to helping businesses achieve sustained growth.”

Parkside added, "These surveys have shown us that over the past 18 months our clients have experienced a fluctuating headcount increase and skills shortage however there has been a steady drop in headcount freezes and an observation that the Thames Valley economy is constantly improving."


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