Category: news

Contractor rates spike amid skills shortages

New data from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo)has revealed that UK businesses are paying more for contractors as skills shortages and economic uncertainty continue to drive demand for temporary support.

According to the data provided by Bullhorn, there was a 3% month-on-month increase in contractor roles in October. These figures were up 6% when compared to the same period in 2019.

The report went on to reveal that the amount invested in attracting these individuals has increased at a much higher rate than demand. In October 2022, staffing firms showed a 7% increase in contract revenue, compared to September. Annual comparisons showed a 14% increase in October.

The greatest increase was seen in pre-covid levels. Sales are up 48% since October 2019. With contractor costs inflated above the rates of demand, all indications are that the costs of employing contractors are increasing due to individuals being able to command higher rates in a tough skills climate.

Ann Swain, CEO of APSCo, commented: “The contract labour market has been heavily relied on as skills shortages remain rife. With talent in increasingly short supply since Brexit and Covid, temporary staff have been hugely valuable in filling gaps. However, what we’re also seeing is a further reliance on these individuals in an uncertain market where fewer businesses are confident in committing to permanent increases in headcount. The spike in contract sales revenue does show the level of fees contractors are able to command in such a skills short market. While we fully expect rates to increase in a cost-of-living crisis, the pre-Covid comparisons show a significant increase which is being driven by more than just the economic climate.”

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Lack of resources and leadership support stifles upskilling efforts

According to new research from O’Reilly, the demand for digitally skilled workers in UK vertical industries, including technology, finance, e-commerce, and retail, is outgrowing the level of digital skills available.

Despite this, only 51% of British companies within these industries are willing to spend more than £25,000 on recruitment and learning and development to boost skills such as cybersecurity, software architecture, and data analysis.

Three hundred HR decision-makers within the technology, finance, e-commerce, and retail industries were surveyed to find out which digital skills are most in demand. The research, conducted by Censuswide in September 2022, also looked at the potential barriers to upskilling staff.

The research found that 27% of the HR decision-makers believe their organisation faces the biggest lack of skilled workers in cybersecurity, followed by software architecture at 15%, and data analysis at 14%.

Yet, only 33% are willing to spend more than £10,000 on recruitment and L&D to hire cybersecurity talent. Seventy-one percent of organisations will spend no more than £10,000 on recruitment and L&D for data analysis, and 68% said the same about software architecture skills.

On the other hand, 32% of organisations are planning to spend £20,000 or more on recruitment for AI and ML and 31% on cloud. More than a quarter of organisations will spend up to or more than £20,000 on AI and ML (29%) and cloud (28%) L&D to upskill employees.

The research also found that over the next 12 months, organisations will spend an average of:

  • £13,962 on L&D for Gen Z
  • £13,608 for Millennials
  • £13,495 for Gen X

The majority (83%) of vertical industries plan to spend between £25,000 – £50,000 on overall recruitment for skilled tech vacancies over the next twelve months; however, only 78% will spend the same amount on tech-related L&D.

Looking at each sector, the research revealed that:

  • The technology sector is planning to spend an average of £33,676 on recruitment and £31,651 on L&D.
  • The finance sector will spend an average of £33,075 on recruitment and £31,400 on L&D.
  • The retail and e-commerce sector will spend an average of £29,275 on recruitment and £28,801 on L&D.

The research found that the biggest barriers to upskilling current employees are : Insufficient resources (21%); lack of internal personnel (19%); lack of internal buy-in (17%).

In the tech sector, 21% of organisations agreed that lack of leadership support is a key barrier to upskilling current employees. Conversely, across all industries combined, 58% of HR decision-makers said that they are ‘significantly’ supported by leadership when it comes to investment in tech-related L&D.

Alexia Pedersen, VP of EMEA at O’Reilly, commented: “It’s encouraging that 80% of companies within the UK’s tech, finance and retail sectors have increased investment for tech-related learning and development over the past three years. However, our data suggests that further investment is needed to recession-proof the UK’s vertical industries.”

“With the pound currently at a 37-year low against the dollar, now is the time for companies to deploy upskilling programmes alongside ongoing recruitment efforts. Likewise, employees should prioritise L&D to safeguard their role and make themselves an invaluable asset to their organisation. This will be key to creating a highly skilled workforce that keeps British businesses at the forefront of their industries globally.”

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Microsoft, Salesforce, Meta and Twitter make mass staff cuts

Big names in Big Tech are letting go of staff at what is said to be the most dramatic cull in tech sector history. Meta has laid off more than 11,000 employees thereby reducing its headcount by around 13 percent, while Microsoft announced at the end of October that it’s laying off around 1,000, with numbers still to be confirmed. Elon Musk led the charge, however, by laying off around half of its workforce when he took control of the social media platform on October 27. This, in a bid to run a financially healthier business by taking it private and enhancing his unilateral power as CEO.

Salesforce has joined the avalanche with an announcement of 2,500 redundancies in the US, with the jury still out on whether or not the mass layoffs will reach UK shores.

Meta, the social media giant, is battling falling revenues and rising competition despite reporting profits in excess of £23 billion. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg emailed employees on Wednesday morning informing them of the redundancies.

He said: “I want to take accountability for these decisions and for how we got here. I know this is tough for everyone, and I’m especially sorry to those impacted.” Zuckerberg said revenue growth experienced during the pandemic had not been sustained, ad performance was down, and ecommerce had declined, all in an environment of economic downturn.

He added: “[These factors] caused our revenue to be much lower than I’d expected. I got this wrong, and I take responsibility for that.” Despite drops in share prices and apprehension around Zuckerburg’s Metaverse development, he has said that investment in Real Labs will continue.

Why? the industry is asking. Since the pandemic, the tech industry has seen an explosion of use of and investment in tech, probably since Facebook’s arrival 18 years ago. The result of rising inflation and reduced revenue seem to be the main reasons for the slew of mass redundancies, even in the face of reporting massive revenue over the last year.

Ken Brotherston, TALiNT Partners CEO said: “First of all, it’s only the most dramatic cull in tech history if you’re under 40. The dot com reverse was quicker and deeper in percentage terms but, of course, that isn’t any comfort if you are one of the people affected. What might offer some succour however is that we still have a pretty robust employment market with a lot of the skills previously valued by these big tech firms still in high demand from lots of other employers.”

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LinkedIn issued a cease-and-desist letter to hiQ in 2017

LinkedIn has announced a win in a six-year lawsuit against hiQ Labs Inc., a now dormant company that had scraped LinkedIn data.

hiQ, which was founded in 2012, went dormant by 2019 after being unable to find further investors and the loss of major clients, according to court records.

hiQ’s products included “Keeper,” designed to analyze and predict the retention risks for the employees of a given employer and indicate which employees were at greatest risk of being recruited away, according to court documents. hiQ’s other product, “Skill Mapper,” aggregated and summarized the skills possessed by an employer’s workforce by analyzing all of the skills employees listed in their LinkedIn profiles, including from previous roles.

In its operations, hiQ attempted to reverse engineer LinkedIn’s systems to avoid detection by simulating human site-access behaviors, according to court documents. hiQ also hired independent contractors known as “turkers” to conduct quality assurance while logged in to LinkedIn by viewing and confirming hiQ customers’ employees’ identities manually. When LinkedIn’s defenses restricted the turkers’ real accounts, hiQ instructed them to create fake ones.

LinkedIn issued a cease-and-desist letter to hiQ in 2017.

Sara Wight, VP, Legal-litigation, Competition and Enforcement at LinkedIn, wrote in a post. “The court ruled that LinkedIn’s user agreement unambiguously prohibits scraping and the unauthorized use of scraped data as well as fake accounts, affirming LinkedIn’s legal positions against hiQ for the past six years. The court also found that hiQ knew for years that its actions violated our user agreement, and that LinkedIn is entitled to move forward with its claim that hiQ violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.”

 

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The redundancies equate to 13% of Meta’s headcount

Meta has laid off more than 11,000 employees thereby reducing its headcount by around 13 percent, in the most dramatic cull in its history. The social media giant is battling falling revenues and rising competition. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg emailed employees on Wednesday morning informing them of the redundancies.

He said: “I want to take accountability for these decisions and for how we got here. I know this is tough for everyone, and I’m especially sorry to those impacted.” Zuckerberg said revenue growth experienced during the pandemic had not been sustained, ad performance was down, and ecommerce had declined, all in an environment of economic downturn.

He added: “[These factors] caused our revenue to be much lower than I’d expected. I got this wrong, and I take responsibility for that.”

Michael McCartney, Employment Partner at Fladgate commented: “Meta’s announcement that it plans to make significant job cuts in response to the current macro-economic environment comes very soon after similar cuts were imposed by Elon Musk following his purchase of Twitter, demonstrating that there is a real impact on advertising revenues in the social media sphere. It would be surprising if either company adopted the approach P&O Ferries deployed recently when it sacked 800 seafarer without prior warning. This is because UK employment law requires an employer to consult with elected representatives (or Trade Unions if there are any recognised) for a minimum period of 30 days, where it envisages 20 or more redundancies and, for at least 45 days, if that number exceeds 100 redundancies. The company is also required to send a notice called an HR1 form to the UK government and if it fails to do this, its directors run the risk of criminal liabilities.

Social media firms (even more so than a travel company) are bound to be conscious of the negative publicity for any failure to comply with employment laws even if the financial penalty (which amounts to 13 weeks’ pay per employee) alone is not enough of a disincentive.”

Florence Brocklesby, Founder of Employment Law Specialists Bellevue Law also commented: “Redundancies are, sadly, a fact of life, and delivering difficult news is never easy. But how a restructuring is conducted is hugely important, not only for those leaving the business, but also for those who remain and the company’s wider reputation. Good processes combined with humanity are key to navigating a challenging time safely and with dignity.

“Twitter’s handling of its current restructuring has shone a light on how redundancies in the tech sector should – and should not – be handled. Just a few days ago Twitter announced plans to let go of 50% of its staff, with swathes of employees finding themselves suddenly locked out of company systems. Meta needs to avoid making those same mistakes today.”

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25% of employees have received employer assistance, outside of annual salary increases


New research
from Randstad has revealed that workers want more support from employers to help them manage the growing cost of living crisis.

The research, which surveyed 7,000 people across five markets* showed that the strongest pressure is coming from the younger generations with the majority (57%) of Gen Z and Millennials placing responsibility for ensuring that they can afford increasing costs with government or employers, compared to only 44% of Baby Boomers.

Sentiment differs across continents, as three in five (60%) Germans and around half of British (53%) and Dutch (46%) workers placed primary responsibility on government, while only a fifth (21%) of Americans agreed. US workers were more likely to pinpoint their employers as the ones who should take action, with a fifth (21%) choosing them, compared to less than one in ten (9%) of Brits and Australians and only 5% of Germans.

Growing expectations of businesses

Only a quarter (25%) of employees have so far received employer assistance, outside of annual salary increases, but most workers say they want to see more action from their employers in the next six months. Close to half (45%) want a monthly cost of living pay boost, with other demands on employers including:

  • Over half (52%) wanting their employer to increase their salaries outside of the regular cadence of pay reviews
  • Nearly a third (30%) wanting subsidies for daily expenses like cost of energy or travel
  • Over a quarter (27%) wanting a one-off cost of living payment

Younger workers have the highest expectations

The level of employee expectation also differs by generation, with younger workers wanting the most help. Half (49%) of baby boomers said they themselves were responsible for managing the increasing cost of living, compared to just a third (33%) of under-35s.

These generational differences are also reflected in the fact that two thirds (67%) of Gen Z workers have received or expect to receive additional assistance from their employer to help them through the cost of living crisis, compared to only a quarter (24%) of baby boomers who said the same.

Employers are beginning to make this a priority

There are some signs of employers beginning to help workers manage the current economic climate. One in ten workers (9%) have received a one-off cost of living payment and 8% are receiving monthly cost of living pay boosts. This is more common in Germany, where 14% of workers have received this assistance, compared to only 7% of Americans.

Sander van ‘t Noordende, CEO of Randstad, said: “As talent shortages continue across many industries around the globe, employees are now facing a fresh challenge of the increasing cost of living. Against this backdrop, workers are looking to employers to offer the complete package – flexible, inclusive and financially stable employment. While the economic environment may encourage people to stick with their employer, causing a slowdown in the “Great Rotation” businesses mustn’t miss out on the unique opportunity to create a more content and productive workforce. Those who feel supported now, are likely to remain loyal even when times aren’t as tough.”

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50% of organisations considering practical training for financial planning in cost-of-living crisis

Research* from DeltaNet International has shown that learning and development professionals believe mental health and wellbeing is the most important eLearning topic for the next 12 months.

In a close second came stress management training for employees, with nearly nine in 10 (88%) employers saying they are worried about how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting employees.  

These areas are ranked as more important than diversity and inclusion, cybersecurity, health and safety, and sustainability training.  

Half of those surveyed (50%) revealed that their learning and development budgets would not change despite the current economic climate putting increased pressure on businesses to support employees further with one in five (21%) stating that a reduction in their budget would be one of the biggest challenges affecting learning and development in the workplace. 

Regarding specific training to help employees navigate the cost of living, almost two-thirds (65%) said this isn’t something they have yet given. But half (50%) are considering implementing practical training such as financial planning.  

The results also revealed an underinvestment in training line managers. Just 27% of L&D professionals said they plan to provide line managers with training linked to the rising cost of living, such as helping managers to spot the signs of those in their teams who may be struggling. 

Chris Chappell, Head of Content at DeltaNet International, said: “Given the current economic situation we find ourselves in, it’s unsurprising that mental health support and stress management are topping the agenda for learning and development priorities.  

“Businesses must support colleagues as best as possible to maintain a contented and productive workforce, but many still have not acted. Whilst good rates of pay and benefits schemes are key to helping people through the cost-of-living crisis, there is much more we can do to support employees, and training plays a key role in this.” 

Employee engagement with L&D also remains a big challenge. 27% of those surveyed revealed this is currently their primary obstacle. Most HR and training professionals are trying to overcome this by asking employees for written feedback on training, with 77% conducting post-training evaluation – only 12% request verbal feedback. 

 

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Christmas job openings include: Reindeer Handlers, Christmas Decoration Installers and Christmas Elves

According to new research from Adzuna this year’s Christmas hiring remains resilient, with close to 28,000 temporary Christmas positions currently available, despite concerns over the cost-of-living crisis.

Adzuna analysed over 1.1 million jobs available in November to reveal the top Christmas jobs hiring now. There are currently 27,694 Christmas jobs on offer across the UK, up 5% from 26,307 this time last year. By comparison, there was a 93% year-on-year increase in the number of advertised Christmas jobs between 2020 (13,668 jobs) and 2021, suggesting that last year’s significant upturn in Christmas hiring has softened this year.

Topping the list of companies still looking for seasonal staff are supermarkets Tesco (2,226 jobs), Sainsbury’s (1,103 jobs) and Marks and Spencer (684 jobs). Hospitality chain Loungers (488 jobs) and fashion retailer Next (308 jobs) are also still advertising for hundreds of open Christmas roles.

Two sectors dominate seasonal hiring: Retail and Hospitality & Catering. The majority of roles available are customer-facing sales roles, stockroom assistants or servers. Interestingly, Christmas hiring in the Logistics and Warehousing sector — one of the sectors with the biggest demand for seasonal workers last year — has cooled in 2022, with only 1,630 openings up for grabs. The drop in ranking could be spurred by the plunge in the total vacancies in the sector. Adzuna data shows the sector experienced a 33.4% year-on-year drop in advertised vacancies, from 117,500 in October 2021 to 78,290 in October 2022. On a separate note, Royal Mail, the third-biggest Christmas employer of 2021, announced plans in October to axe as many as 10,000 jobs in the upcoming six months.

In total, ten of the largest seasonal employers are hiring 234,700 workers this Christmas, up 74% from 135,000 workers last year. The growth is largely driven by Amazon, which alone takes on an additional 150,000 workers. Take the e-commerce giant aside, there are five companies — Sainsbury’s, Tesco, John Lewis, Boots and Domino’s — offering 10,000 or more seasonal jobs this year.

Festive and fabulous Christmas jobs

An online search of roles revealed openings for Reindeer Handlers to bring Santa’s ride to different locations throughout the UK (at £9 – £12 per hour), and for Christmas Tree Decorators and Christmas Florists to help companies and homeowners to make their offices and homes Christmassy (paying £12 – £18 per hour).

For those who love skating, go for openings for Ice Rink Marshalls at historic sites such as Warwick Castle, paying up to £11.21 per hour. For those that love dressing up, there are over 400 openings for Santas and Christmas Elves including at theme parks such as Gulliver’s World, paying up to £15 an hour.

Other festive and fabulous Christmas jobs include openings for Seasonal Gift Wrappers, Turkey Pluckers, Christmas Tree Harvesters, Festive Nursery Practitioners and Seasonal Chocolate Packers.

The most lucrative winter position is for Christmas Chefs, who are responsible for crafting the Christmas menu and preparing food for private homes or restaurants, paying up to £300 per day.

Best relief perks for the cost of living 

Employers are trying their best to help employees cope with the rising cost of living. There are currently 12,185 advertised jobs covering free meals. Recruitment company Siamo Group is offering new starters one free meal per day from November to the end of December.

Meanwhile, one-time monetary incentives are also popular, with 7,421 advertised jobs promoting bonuses. There are myriads of one-off bonuses. Grocery and technology firm Ocado Group, private healthcare provider Bupa and hotel The Mayfair Townhouse are offering £500 welcome bonuses for e-scooter riders, senior care assistants and housekeeping room attendants. Sports retailer JD Sports offers a £560 attendance bonus for warehouse operatives. Hotel chain Marriott offers a £500 loyalty bonus for chefs, and construction engineering company M Group Services provides loyalty bonuses of up to £1,000 for engineers.

Paul Lewis, Chief Customer Officer at Adzuna commented: “Having nearly 28,000 jobs for one special occasion is very impressive amid challenging economic climate. As the cost-of-living crisis deepens, employers are eking out earnings by various cost-saving measures including trimming down recruitment budgets, and that’s why we’re seeing a halt in hiring growth momentum. That said, we’ve also noticed many employers are striving to support prospective employees through the rising cost of living, such as offering cash bonuses and free meals. To jobseekers who enjoy working with customers face-to-face, now is the perfect time to earn extra cash for the holidays as the retail sector is flourishing in this holiday season.”

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Nurses given free parking as staff exodus ends private sector monopoly on employment perks

It’s been revealed by Socially Recruited  that an exodus of nurses is forcing the health sector to respond with an increasing array of employment perks in a desperate bid to fill roles.

The staffing firm, which recruits for big brands and organisations using social media, has reported that the proportion of jobs offering nurses free parking, free lunches and extra annual leave has at least doubled in the past year as the profession suffers a recruitment crisis.

According to Socially Recruited, 2 in 5 of its health service clients now list extra holiday as a benefit, up from 1 in 5 a year ago. The proportion that offer extra annual leave has jumped from 21.2% to 44.1%.

None of the company’s clients was listing free meals and parking 12 months ago, but now 60.4% are doing so.

Nurses are quitting the health service in record numbers in England, according to analysis by the Nuffield Trust, with 40,000 quitting in a year1. That’s equivalent to one in nine of the workforce, leaving recruiters struggling to keep up with the rate at which they need replacing.

A survey by NHS Providers has also shown that many nurses are leaving for better-paid jobs in the hospitality and retail industries2, sparking intense competition to attract and retain staff.

It comes after recent figures from the NHS Business Services Authority revealed that 66,000 NHS staff in England and Wales had stopped paying into their NHS pensions between April and July, with over one in three (23,000) citing affordability pressures.

Ben Keighley, founder of Socially Recruited, said: “Nurses are getting scarcer, and the sector is having to battle even harder just to replace those that are leaving. To stem the tide, we’ve seen an unprecedented influx of employment benefits in healthcare.

“Recruiters are throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at candidates and rolling out the red carpet in a way that, until now, was more commonly associated with the private sector.

“Competition is rife and healthcare providers aren’t just trying to outbid each other — wages in other industries, such as hospitality, have been making gains and turning the heads of nurses and other workers looking for a way out of the cost-of-living crisis.”

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68% said focus on hard skills may cost candidates chance of being offered the job

Global recruitment company, Michael Page, has revealed that soft skills are as important as technical skills and qualifications in the interview process in determining the candidates’ success.

One thousand people involved with hiring were canvassed, and the findings highlighted the increasing need for prospective talent to show their willingness to learn and show flexibility.

The unexpected soft skills that are most sought after include selflessness, a sense of humour, and the ability to admit when you don’t know something. Sixty-two percent said they have hired someone who has demonstrated a range of these soft skills even up against better-qualified candidates.

Of those surveyed:

  • 63% felt that candidates focussed too much on their hard skills and qualifications and not enough on their human side when preparing for an interview.
  • 68% claimed that this focus may cost candidates their chance of being offered the job.
  • Half agreed that a willingness to develop their skills for the future is a key factor when deciding between two candidates.

The increasing demand for soft skills and emotional intelligence is evident even in highly technical industries such as technology and transformation.

In looking at the interview process, it was discovered that:

  • 51% favoured face-to-face interviews.
  • 74% of those who preferred in-person interviews agreed that they can get a better feel for the person this way. A further 61% said that the conversation flows more naturally.
  • Of those who preferred video interviews, 74% felt that the process allows them to speak with applicants from further afield, increasing the pool of talent.

Doug Rode, UK&I Managing Director at Michael Page, said: “The pandemic really drove home the importance of soft skills and taught businesses how crucial it is to invest in a workforce that possesses more than just technical ability.

“Now, with a turbulent economic landscape impacting businesses across the country, attributes such as a willingness to learn, flexibility and a sense of humour are all highly desired by hiring managers who know that personal qualities can impact a company’s overall success.

“Too often, candidates talk themselves out of applying for a certain job because they worry they don’t have every single skill, but this research clearly shows that employers are willing to overlook that for the right candidate. It’s easy to upskill once someone is in role, but traits like teamwork, empathy and friendliness are crucial attributes that you can’t necessarily teach.”

“Over the past few years, technology has fundamentally changed the traditional recruitment process – particularly through virtual interviewing. One of the key benefits of this is that companies are able to widen the net to secure talent from further afield, increasing diversity and creating opportunities for previously untapped talent pools.

“However, whether virtual or in person, interviewers will be keen to get a sense of the soft skills candidates can offer their business. The most successful will be those who are able to showcase a blend of both – pairing expertise and qualification with emotional intelligence too. Now, more than ever, demonstrating the desire to develop and futureproof their skills, being willing to learn and able to solve problems will give most candidates an edge over purely technical ability.”

James Barrett, Managing Director at Michael Page Technology, said: “Technology is always evolving, meaning roles are constantly coming to market which require completely new skillsets. This means that qualifications can quickly become outdated, and, in some cases, the qualifications don’t even yet exist. This makes it more important than ever to hire talent who are curious, willing to learn and develop and embrace change.”

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