Tag: Covid

Starting salaries for permanent candidates rise 

KPMG and the REC’s latest UK Report on Jobs was compiled by IHS Markit and was based on responses to questionnaires completed by approximately 400 UK recruitment and employment consultancies.  

Due to a sharp rise in economic activity in the last few months, along with a solid demand for staff, a considerable increase in permanent placements took place, while the number of temporary placements also rose.  

The report revealed a decrease in candidate availability, which isn’t new news considering skills shortages. The reduction in candidates, according to the report, meant there was a dramatic increase in starting salaries for permanent staff and a large increase in salary for short-term positions.  

 Availability of workers falls  

The availability of candidates dropped to a record low this month and, according to the report, underlying data revealed that unprecedented falls in permanent candidate numbers and temp staff supply had driven the latest deterioration in overall availability. The declines were widely associated with a reluctance among employees to switch roles due to the pandemic, fewer EU workers, furloughed staff and skill shortages. 

The combination of Brexit and COVID-19 and the resultant skills shortages have led to increased competition for staff amid the dwindling labour supply. This placed upward on starting salaries. A notable finding in the report stated that salaries for newly placed permanent staff increased at the fastest rate seen in almost 24 years.  

Increased competition for staff amid shrinking labour supply placed further upward pressure on starting pay. Notably, salaries for newly-placed permanent staff increased at the fastest rate seen in nearly 24 years of data collection, while temp wage inflation was the second-quickest on record. 

Regional and sector changes  

All four regions monitored in England, recorded faster rises in permanent placements when compared to the latest survey period. The increase was led by London. Unprecedented upturns were also seen in the North and South of England. London registered the fastest rise in temp billings during August.  

The private sector continued to record much stronger increases in vacancies than the public sector halfway through the third quarter. The steepest increase in demand was signaled for permanent staff in the private sector.  

Claire Warnes, Head of Education, Skills and Productivity at KPMG UK, commented on the survey results:  

“Candidate shortages continue to plague businesses, who are all recruiting from the same pool of talent and struggling to fill gaps. While record high permanent placements and higher starting salaries mean it remains a job seekers market, recruiters and employers have seen the most severe decline of candidate availability in the survey’s history and will be thinking about how to attract and retain new staff.  

“This crisis isn’t going away, and the winding down of the furlough scheme at the end of September – while potentially bringing more job hunters to the market – could also add fuel to the labour shortage fire. Many businesses will have changed their business model during the pandemic, and so significant numbers of staff returning from furlough may need reskilling to rejoin the workforce in the same or another sector. 

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC also commented: “Recruiters are working around the clock, placing more people into work than ever as these figures show. Switching the entire economy on over the summer has created a unique demand spike, and a short-term crisis. 

“But it would be a mistake for businesses to think of this as only a short-term issue. A number of factors mean that the UK labour market will remain tight for several years to come. Business leaders should be looking now at how they will build their future workforces, in partnership with recruiters, including the skills and career path development.”

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The Recruitment & Employment Confederation has welcomed an Employment Tribunal decision that ruled that a temporary worker did not accrue holiday leave while on furlough, saying it provides much needed clarity for recruitment agencies.

Mr D Perkins v The Best Connection Group Limited (TBCGL) concerned a contract for services worker who had been placed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

The Tribunal was asked to consider whether or not the claimant should be entitled to accrue holiday pay while furloughed. It ruled he should not because he was not a worker for the purposes of the Working Time Regulations 1998.

It also highlighted that the terms of his contract with the agency were such that the agreement only existed when he was on assignment. It specified that he would not “receive payment from TBC or its clients for any time not spent on assignment whether in respect of holidays, illness or absence for any other reason”.

As he was unable to work for TBCGL while on furlough, the judge ruled the claimant could not be interpreted to be on assignment.

The ruling is aligned with government guidance on the accrual of holiday pay for furloughed agency workers, which states: “Some agency workers on a contract for services may not be entitled to the accrual of holiday or to take holiday under the Working Time Regulations while on furlough because they are not workers or treated as workers under those regulations when between assignments or otherwise not working on assignments.”

Lorraine Laryea, Director of Recruitment Standards and Compliance at the REC, said: “One of the major issues for recruiters in 2020 as they considered whether to engage with the new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to furlough temporary workers, was whether holiday and holiday pay would accrue for those workers who were placed on furlough.

“The REC lobbied the government extensively to release guidance on exactly this, which resulted in advice being published in May 2020. However, this isn’t statutory guidance and it’s important to bear in mind that the judgment is a first instance decision, meaning that other Employment Tribunals presented with similar cases could reach a different decision.

“However, the analysis in this case, which draws out the specific nature of temporary workers on contracts for services and the interaction with the holiday pay legislation and furlough provisions, is compelling and in the view of the REC more accurately reflects how the law should apply in these types of claims.”

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The recovery of family businesses from the pandemic will be crucial in the rebuilding of the UK economy, according to not-for-profit membership organisation IFB Research Foundation (IFBRF).

 

The IFBRF’s latest report revealed that family firms were in rude health before the onset of the pandemic. Its research found that in 2019, family businesses made up almost 30% of the UK’s national income.

 

In the same year, more than 100,000 new family businesses were created across the UK, with 5.2 million family firms in total, employing more than 14 million people.

 

Sir Michael Bibby, Chairman of the IFB Research Foundation, said: “This latest report from the IFB Research Foundation shows how, before the Covid-19 pandemic, family businesses were playing a critical role in the UK economy. The evidence highlights how the sector had been performing well and was largely optimistic about the future.

 

“The pandemic is likely to have had a dramatic impact on the outlook, and expectations of many UK small and medium-sized enterprises and this report will give us a great base from which to analyse the changes especially given some of the sectors in which family firms are most concentrated have been those hardest hit by Covid-19.”

 

IFB Director General Elizabeth Bagger added: “This report from the IFB Research Foundation clearly shows how significant family businesses are to the strength, stability, and success of UK private enterprise. Before the pandemic, family businesses were growing exponentially. Family firms are the driving force across all regions, communities, and sectors of the UK and as such, are pivotal to the future prosperity of the country as we emerge from the pandemic. We must therefore ensure that family businesses are supported to recover and grow.”

 

She said that government-funded initiatives such as Evolve Digital, run by the Lancaster University Management School and part of a national research study aimed at feeding into government policy on small family businesses, should prove useful in helping businesses navigate the changing landscape.

 

“Supporting the adoption of new technologies can help family firms improve their processes and foster innovation, with the move towards these new technologies a trend which has been accelerated by the pandemic.”

 

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Covid outbreaks seem to be deterring jobseekers from applying for new roles, with new data showing employers are having to offer higher salaries to attract applicants in areas where cases of the Delta variant are rising sharply.

According to job board CV-Library, there is a “clear pattern” of pay increases in areas where infection levels are high, such as the North West and the Midlands.

Liverpool topped the table for increases in the average pay offered in June compared with the same period last month, with salaries up 10.3%. Wolverhampton, Derby, Coventry and Nottingham also featured in the top 10, with increases of 4.7%, 4.7%, 4.6% and 2.6%, respectively.

Portsmouth, where Delta variant cases increased sevenfold between June 2 and June 9, recorded the second highest salary increase at 7.5%.

Lee Biggins, CEO and founder of CV-Library, said: “Businesses are fighting harder than ever to make it to the end of lockdown restrictions. Recruitment is the cornerstone of both survival and longevity and it’s clear to see that, in the most competitive areas, businesses are rising to the challenge and stepping up their efforts.

“With news that restrictions will continue for an additional four weeks, offering enhanced salaries and the most competitive packages will do much to entice the many jobseekers that remain hesitant in these uncertain times and give businesses the chance to hit the ground running on 19th July.”

Other factors at play
However, it’s clear that while Covid is one issue leading employers to have to work harder to attract new talent, it’s not the only one.

According to Alex Fourlis, Managing Director at job boards network Broadbean Technology, there are a number of factors at play.

“We’re experiencing a talent drought at the moment that is being impacted by multiple issues. An ongoing reluctance to leave the security of current roles is certainly one factor that’s hitting application numbers, but for industries like retail where job losses were reported during the height of the pandemic, the reality is many people have left for other, more secure, sectors.

“What we’re also seeing is the impact of Brexit really playing out across those industries that have historically relied on international talent. The decline in applications for logistics, for example, will no doubt have been exacerbated by the UK’s exit from the Bloc.”

Broadbean reported a further fall in application numbers in May, despite an increase in job vacancies during the same month. The retail and logistics sectors were especially impacted by  mismatches between supply and demand.

According to the Broadbean data, vacancies across retail increased by 55% in the three months to May, but over the same period the number of applications per vacancy fell by 52%.

The number of openings across logistics, distribution and supply chain were up 79% in May compared to pre-pandemic levels in January 2020, but the number of people applying for these roles fell 76% over the same time frame.

Broadbean said that this reflected a consistent trend seen in 2021 so far, with vacancy numbers more than doubling (up 133%) since January this year, but the number of applicants falling further each month since then.

Young the key to filling ‘vacancies vacuum’?
One solution offered up to alleviate the skills shortages in industries such as logistics and also hospitality – where the dearth of workers has been widely reported in recent months – is to bring more young people into the workforce.

That was the suggestion of West Midlands-based recruitment specialist Pertemps last week, which called on the government to take action to encourage young people into the jobs market.

Carmen Watson, Chair at Pertemps, said there had been a rise in both permanent and contingent vacancies, especially in sectors such as hospitality, food manufacturing and logistics.

However, she added there had been a “sea change in candidates’ career choices as a result of the pandemic” and that a change in strategy was needed.

“An ongoing concern is the economic inactivity rate of young people and we would urge employers to consider greater use of apprenticeships and traineeships to grow our future talent. This will undoubtedly need support from central government if we are going to fill this vacancies vacuum.”

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Businesses turned to freelancers most often for help with technology, digital marketing and design tasks over the past year, according to new research.

A survey of 15,000 freelancers by freelance jobs marketplace PeoplePerHour found freelancers across these three areas had been most in demand during the past 12 months. More specifically, web development, content writing and graphic design topped the list of tasks outsourced during the pandemic.

Xenios Thrasyvoulou, Founder and CEO of PeoplePerHour, said: “During the past 12 months, every aspect of normal life has changed, from how you do your shopping, to how you run your business.

“Many businesses have had to adapt and move online requiring specific skills and competencies at a given point in time, which makes using freelancers particularly attractive for many companies.”

In particular, the research found that many businesses had set up websites or ecommerce marketplaces for the first time over the past year, leading to web development, app development and coding skills becoming even more in demand than they were previously.

Companies had also increased their use of digital channels over the past year, seeking help from freelancers to write content and manage social media campaigns.

Graphic designers were also in high demand as businesses looked to boost their online presence with new logos, online brochures, posters and other creative material.

And due to the shift to home working and the downturn in some industries, some businesses had either cut back on staff or placed them on furlough, so turned to freelancers for business support such as sales or virtual assistance.

Thrasyvoulou said the strong demand for freelancers was especially welcome as many had been badly affected by the pandemic. “Small businesses and the self-employed have been some of the hardest-hit sectors, with less government support than those who are in full-time employment.”

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While it’s well-known that working from home has increased over the past year, it seems learning from home has also risen significantly.

According to the latest Learning and Skills at Work report from the CIPD and Accenture, seven in ten organisations reported an increase in the use of digital or online solutions over the last year.

However, organisations have largely been managing this increase without a corresponding rise in their learning and development budgets. Only 11% of the 1,200 professionals surveyed reported a rise in their budget over the last 12 months, while 58% reported their budget had remained the same.

About one third of organisations had had to contend with a reduction in budgets, with learning budgets cut most significantly in those industries that have been more impacted by the pandemic. In some cases, budget cuts had led to reductions in L&D headcounts and the use of external consultants.

“While many learning professionals have had to do more with less in the last year, it was also a time to challenge assumptions and embrace new ways of doing things. It’s clear there is no going back – the pandemic has likely changed for good the face of learning and skills development in organisations,” said Lizzie Crowley, senior adviser at the CIPD and author of the report.

Despite the funding constraints, the majority of businesses surveyed said the switch to a digital model had been positive. Some 77% of organisations said they were successfully using learning technology and 69% reported they were innovating in their use of learning technology.

One specific area of focus reported was the use of technology to help identify and deal with skills gaps in organisations.

Since the previous year, a greater number of respondents said they had assessed the impact of automation and how to redeploy employees affected (51%), as well as how roles are changing and how to reskill workers to meet these changes (64%).

The majority of organisations had become more confident about their ability to address skills gaps, with 72% of respondents saying they were able to effectively tackle skills gaps.

However, Ian Rawlings, Regional VP EMEA at software company SumTotal, said it was important employers took a tailored approach: “As Covid-19 accelerates changes to the world of work, it’s great to see that organisations are utilising this momentum to drive their reskilling efforts to future-proof their business and employees.

“It is important to remember, however, that skills development is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and adherence to a single learning style may restrict employee agility – negatively impacting on talent development. Not only will offering just one learning style limit creativity and flexibility, reducing employees’ capability of adapting to changing business needs, but it may lead to employees failing to realise their full potential.”

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One in four UK workers say they will resign from their job if flexible working policies are revoked, a new survey reveals.

As the government prepares to lift England’s lockdown, a study by HR software company Personio found that employers could face revolt if they insist on a return to a 9-to-5 office routine.

Over half of employees have seen a change in working hours as a result of the pandemic; 29% are working for longer, but 37% are working fewer hours.

Appino surveyed over 1,000 full-time UK employees and HR professionals on behalf of Personio to investigate the impact of Covid-19 on the UK workforce and to find out if companies are prepared for a long-term digital shift. And while 41% believe their employer is likely to permanently retain the flexible working hours introduced as a response to the pandemic, more than a third (37%) feel their company is avoiding implementing new hybrid working paradigms and is persisting with compulsory attendance.

However, only 12% of surveyed employees are dissatisfied with the way their employers have looked after them in these uncertain times.

Flexible working hours and mental health

Almost half of all UK employees (43%) are able to work from home, while a third (31%) also said they have been offered flexible working hours, and 22% were introduced to new digital tools to aid communication and organisation.

One in three (34%) have been offered equipment such as chairs and tables. A third (33%) indicated that they are being offered mental health support and a quarter (26%) say they are being provided with on-going coaching on the challenges of managing a work-life balance.

A shift to a hybrid working model

While 43% of UK employees say their employers have implemented hybrid working practices that are enabling them to work from anywhere, 32% are unsure if flexible working hours will become a permanent part of their company’s day-to-day operations.

“Covid-19 forced employers to introduce and trial new flexibilities to the daily work routine in an exceptionally short period of time,” said Ross Seychell, Chief People Officer at Personio. ”In most cases, it hasn’t had a negative impact on individual or company productivity. Employees across the world have now seen how flexible working could look in future, and quite rightly they will expect their company to have a plan for this.

“Now, businesses must work towards implementing the tooling and technology in the long-term to ensure they can continue to attract and retain the best talent in a hybrid world of work.”

Tech talent want to work from home

Following the release of ONS jobs data which found that UK Tech has created more than 100,000 jobs since the start of the pandemic, a new survey from Harvey Nash Tech has found that technology companies may need to dramatically scale back their office space, as staff want to mainly WFH post Covid-19. Preliminary data found that:

  • Over three quarters (79%) of tech workers (the equivalent of over 1 million people working in the sector) want to continue working the majority of the week (3-5 days) from home after the pandemic and 95% want to work 2-5 days a week from home. This compares with only 42% of tech professionals working 2-5 days a week from home prior to the pandemic.
  • ‘Work location and remote working’ have been identified for the first time as one of the top three most important factors when looking for a new job in tech, second only to pay. The top three are now – remuneration, work location and remote working, and a strong culture & strong leadership. Over a third (38%) of tech professionals also reported that homeworking during the pandemic has increased the distance they are prepared to live from the office by a little (12.59%) or significantly (25.44%).

With the equivalent of 1 million UK tech workers aiming to continue working the majority of the week from home after the pandemic, Harvey Nash believes that this will not only have a huge impact on tech office space and hubs, but it will also drive many more remote jobs particularly in areas such as cyber-security, data analysis, software engineering /development, and those with skills in AI and machine learning.

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