Tag: employers

Skills shortages reported in the Kingdom

A recent report by Hays, the global recruiting experts, has revealed that Saudi Arabia’s construction and real estate market is showing signs of recovery and growth following a period of subdued activity in response to COVID-19.

Lockdown measures and travel restrictions have limited workforce capabilities and drastically reduced the global demand for oil forced the government to make budget cutbacks resulting in many construction and real estate projects being put on hold. Eighteen months on however, the economy has bounced back.

Since the beginning of 2021, there have been positive signs of growth with statistics from Reuters showing that the economy grew by 1.5% year-on-year as of Q3, with the non-oil revenue sector returning to pre-pandemic levels, growing by 10.1%. These figures, together with the high vaccine rollout and easing of travel restrictions, have provoked much optimism in the Kingdom. It remains to be seen how the discovery of Omicron will affect global economic recovery in the coming months.

Like the rest of the globe, hiring activity is back to pre-pandemic level and this is no different in the Kingdom while the next 12 months set to surge far beyond these levels. The local unemployment rate has hit a new 10-year low of 11.7% and is on track to reach the government’s target of 7% by 2030, although it seems the skills shortage is a global phenomenon.

Skills in demand

Saudi has not been immune to skills shortages. In line with the Kingdom’s vision to become a global leader within investment, tourism and trade, demand for the world’s very best talent is high. Hays has reported a demand for large-scale project experience in the following sectors:

  1. Design / Pre-construction
  2. Project delivery
  3. Digital technology

 

What candidates want

Talent attraction is key and Hays has reported that candidates are looking for competitive salaries with good benefits packages; job security; and efficient onboarding processes.

What employers want

Hiring trends in Saudi reflect its ambitious 2030 vision, with highly driven, highly skilled professionals being the most in demand. Employers look for candidates who have worked on major, multi-billion US$ projects which are similar in nature and end-use to those they will be working on.

According to Hays, candidates must also have experience working with innovative tech, demonstrate a track record of delivering projects / phases from inception to completion, and a proven success in senior leadership positions.

Hays says that being able to showcase this experience in a meaningful way is incredibly important too and they advise candidates to highlight how their skills and experiences align to the role they are applying for.

Aaron Fletcher, Business Manager – Saudi Arabia, Hays commented: “In line with the Kingdom’s vision to become a global leader within investment, tourism and trade, demand for the world’s very best talent is high and there is typically a shortage of supply of such talent in the region. As such, benefits paid in addition to salary are typically most generous in Saudi Arabia compared to the rest of the Gulf region. Relocation, housing and education allowances are offered as part of a standard employment package in Saudi Arabia.”

 

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Half of workforce looking to reskill

In the latest survey from CV-Library, it’s been revealed that ‘The Great Resignation’ is set to continue with more than two thirds of the UK professional workforce saying they’ll look for a new role in 2022.

More than half of the workforce (57.6%) is planning to reskill or retrain next year with belief that it will make them more employable.  Other factors driving the reskilling are a desire for a more meaningful career, better long-term job security and being unable to find a suitable job with their current skills.

The top five reasons for moving on in 2022, according to the CV-Library survey were:

  1. 1%: want/need a career change
  2. 3%: higher salary
  3. 7%: the uncertainty of the pandemic delayed an inevitable decision
  4. 9%: more flexible working opportunities
  5. 2%: burnout

Lee Biggins, CEO and founder of CV-Library commented: “Employers can take action to prevent increased staff turnover. Offering top salaries is the obvious choice but investing in training and upskilling, offering remote working opportunities, and building strong internal teams, look to be the smartest moves businesses can take in 2022.”

Ken Brotherston, Managing Director at TALiNT Partners doesn’t necessarily agree. He weighed in: “Whilst I might quibble about the percentage of people claiming they will look for a new job, I do agree that there are a range of underlying challenges for employers which need to be addressed and that there is no single solution.”

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People living with dementia is set to triple by 2050

According to a new survey conducted by HIVE360, more UK workers are having to combine full and part time work with caring for an unwell or disabled loved ones. The ‘sandwich generation’ now looking after young children and elderly relatives, needs more support from their bosses post-pandemic.

According to David McCormack, CEO at HIVE360, the company has recorded a steady climb in the number of employees accessing specialist carer support. This data has been gathered from its employee experience platform called Engage.

David commented: “This hidden workforce is under enormous pressure and feeling the strain and are seeking out telephone advice and online guidance on how to cope and manage the impact on their physical and mental health and wellbeing, 24-hours a day, seven days a week.”

In a complementary report published recently by Aon, it is predicted that by 2040 one in six UK workers will balance their job with caring responsibilities. This figure means that unpaid carers will provide around £132 million worth of care per annum with 2.6 million people having given up work to provide care at home. The report also found that almost half of workers with caring responsibilities describe their situation as stressful, with 20% falling ill themselves.

David made further comment: “This represents a 12% increase since 2013. The UK’s population is ageing; around one-fifth of the UK population (19%) or around 12.3 million people was aged 65 or over in 2019, or around 12.3 million people. And it is projected there will be an additional 7.5 million people aged 65 years and over in the UK in 50 years’ time.

“Furthermore, the population of people living with dementia is set to triple by 2050, according to recent data published by Alzheimer’s Society.

“The sandwich generation is likely to grow in step with this changing profile of the UK population, and in turn, the numbers of workers juggling caring for a loved one. The new right for employees to take up to one week of unpaid carer’s leave per year announced by the government this month, is a positive step in the right direction towards giving the hidden workforce of carers the support, understanding and flexibility they need.”

 

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Lack of transparency around salaries hinders women

A recent survey from Glassdoor, the jobs and insights agency, has found that women across the UK are at a disadvantage because of a lack of transparency around salaries. A mere 25% of full-time employees in the UK strongly agree that their employer is transparent about pay with 54% of workers admitting they aren’t comfortable discussing their salary with their boss.

The survey suggests that the lack of discussion around pay is contributing to inequality for women. Sixty-seven percent of female workers didn’t ask for a salary increase in 2020, which equates to 30% more than men. In the last year, 35% of those working in the female-dominated industries of education, healthcare, and hospitality asked for a wage increase compared to 62% of those working in the traditionally male-dominated world of finance and 56% in tech.

According to the results of the survey, women are also 26% less likely than their male counterparts to ask for more money in the next 12 months, with 37% of women planning to ask for a pay rise next year.

The survey revealed that over half (56%) of women admit they lack the confidence to ask for a pay rise and as a result, only 33% of female workers negotiated the salary of their last job offer (compared to 45% of men). Two in five (43%) women revealed that they simply accepted the salary that was offered to them (compared to 35 percent of men).

Nearly three in four of all employees (73 percent) got the wage increase they asked for last year, indicating that women will continue to miss vital opportunities to increase their earning potential.

Jill Cotton, Career Expert at Glassdoor commented: “Workplace transparency is a hallmark of many successful companies and more transparency is needed in the future. One in two women admit to lacking confidence at work – companies should open an honest discussion around salary from the point that the role is advertised and throughout the person’s time with the organisation. Having clear salary bands limits the need for negotiation which, as the Glassdoor research shows, has a detrimental effect on female employees’ ability to earn throughout their career.

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80% of industries reporting record job vacancies

According to the latest labour market stats from the ONS, October saw 29.3 million employees, up by 160,000 on the revised September statistics. However, it was noted that it’s possible these figures may change while furloughed staff, who were made redundant, work out their notice period. But responses to the ONS survey suggest that redundancy numbers are likely to be a small share of those still on furlough when the scheme came to an end.

The Labour Force Survey estimates that for July to September 2021 the employment rate increased 0.4 percentage points on the quarter, to 75.4%. ONS reported that the increase in employment was because of a record high net flow from unemployment to employment. Total job-to-job moves also increased to a record high, largely driven by resignations rather than dismissals, during the same period. The rise is also driven by an increase in part-time work and an increase in the number of people on zero-hour contracts, driven by young people.

The unemployment rate decreased 0.5 percentage points to 4.3% while the inactivity rate remained unchanged at 21.1%.

But we have yet to see the full effects of the end of the furlough scheme and the relevance of zero-hour contracts in these figures. David Head, Director at TALiNT Partners commented: “Zero-hour contracts, if implemented ethically between employer and employee, are perfect because they allow flexibility in the workforce and allow businesses to expand and contract whenever necessary. However, having vast numbers of people on zero-hour contracts will inevitably mask the true numbers of the unemployed.”

The latest figures show that the number of job vacancies in August to October 2021 continued to rise to a new record of 1,172,000. This is an increase of 388,000 from pre-pandemic numbers of January to March 2020 level, with 15 of the 18 industry sectors showing record highs.

During the quarter, annual growth in average total pay (including bonuses) was 5.8% and regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 4.9%. Annual growth in average employee pay has been affected by temporary factors that have inflated the headline growth rate. These factors are now waning and will have a smaller impact on growth rates, according to the report.

James Reed, Chairman of REED commented on the continued increase of job vacancies: “This ongoing rise in job vacancies is a positive sign of the economy’s continued revival. Rapid job creation means there are plenty of opportunities to go around, and not just for those recently off furlough, but also for others who have faced long or short-term unemployment as well as those already in work who are seeking a new challenge.

“After experiencing a cautious labour market during the pandemic when job opportunities were restricted and workers were less incentivised to move, there has never been a better time to look for a new role than now.”

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As we come out of the pandemic, the economy has bounced back faster and stronger than anyone imagined and the number of jobs available are at record levels.

In general, it is always wise to treat dramatic headlines or simple phrases with a large pinch of salt. My rule of thumb is this: does the person promoting the headline have an interest in it being true? If so, approach with caution.

Likewise, any survey that takes ‘intent’ and translates it into ‘certainty’ should also be handled with care. For example, a statement that ‘60% ofcandidates intend to change jobs in the next six months’ does not mean that is what’s going to happen. For the last 10 years I have fully intended to lose 10kg and do a triathlon and yet both are but still unachieved!

Which brings me to the ‘great resignation’. Despite the ubiquity of the phrase, it’s been surprisingly hard to find compelling evidence to support that it’s actually happening.

Let’s look at the evidence in favour. As we come out of the pandemic, the economy has bounced back faster and stronger than anyone imagined and the number of jobs available are at record levels. It is also a fair assumption that there is an element of catch up from candidates who have wanted to change jobs since last year but were nervous about doing so. Another factor is that September is historically an active month for jobs changes.

It is also increasingly understood that employers who refuse to consider more flexible working patterns or who appeared indifferent to the challenges of their employees during the pandemic may suffer some sort of backlash. But the ‘great resignation?’ I’m not so sure.

Let’s consider the other side of the argument. Many industries are still very challenged with employees terrified, not just about changing jobs in their sector, but about losing the one they have. There are still around one million workers about to come off furlough which will have some impact on re-dressing the imbalance in the labour market.

And if we are to talk about the ‘great resignation’, we must also look to its equal and opposite force ‘the great retention.’ The vast majority of HR and TA people can not only read, but they can count and think and figure out that something needs to be done. Whether that’s increasing salaries (around20% should do it) creating more flexible working patterns even for employees who are still required to be on site for 100% of their jobs, looking at innovative learning and development initiatives and so on and so on, they know they need to respond, and they are.

So yes, we do have a truly unique labour market right now, and no, the mismatch between supply and demand won’t last forever. In the meantime there will be a higher degree of market movement than usual but ‘the great resignation?’ I don’t think so.

Whilst the pandemic has changed many things, it hasn’t changed the fact that the best employers attract and retain the best talent but that doesn’t make much of a headline.

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Employers will be held liable if they fail to take all reasonable steps to prevent employees from experiencing sexual harassment at work, under new proposals announced by the Government Equalities Office (GEO).

In its response to the 2019 sexual harassment in the workplace consultation, the government committed to four key actions to strengthen protection against sexual harassment in workplaces.

These included introducing a duty on employers to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment, as well as introducing a requirement to “create explicit protections from harassment by third parties”.

It also said it would support the Equality and Human Rights Commission to produce a statutory code of practice, and that it was considering extending the time limit for bringing Equality Act-based cases to Employment Tribunals to six months, from the current three months.

In a Ministerial Foreword, Equalities Minister Liz Truss said: “The steps we plan to take as a result of this consultation will help to shift the dial, prompting employers to take steps which will make a tangible and positive difference. We want to provide the right legal framework, which supports employees and employers alike.

“We will be providing further protections to employees who are the victims of sexual harassment, whilst also furnishing employers with the motivation and support to put in place practices and policies which respond to the needs of their organisation. We now have a real opportunity to transform the workplace and guarantee everyone an environment in which they can thrive and feel safe.”

The announcement was welcomed by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), which urged the government to bring the changes into law quickly.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “No one should face sexual harassment at work, but the shocking reality is that most women have. Employers will now have a legal responsibility to protect their staff from sexual harassment.

“And employers must now protect their workers from all forms of harassment by customers and clients as well as from colleagues. This will help stamp out sexual harassment of women workers, and racist and homophobic abuse too. And it will make all public-facing workplaces safer – from shops to surgeries, salons to showrooms.

“If this is to be a genuine turning point, the government must change the law swiftly, put more resources into enforcing the new duties, and make sure victims have access to justice.

“Ministers have taken an important first step – but they must keep up the momentum. Sexual harassment at work is rife and needs tackling now.”

Photo curtosy of Canva.com

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Employers adopting hybrid working as workplaces reopen need to make sure they are meeting the needs of their youngest workers, according to new research.

A survey of 6,000 European office workers by business technology provider Sharp found that 66% of UK workers aged 21 to 30 had found it challenging to stay connected to colleagues while working remotely.

The majority (57%) also said the ability to meet with colleagues in person had become more important since the pandemic began, and 60% said a dynamic office environment had risen in importance since lockdown.

More than half (53%) said that working remotely blurred the boundaries between their work and home life.

However, while keen for some face-to-face interaction, across Europe Millennials and Gen Z workers overwhelming reported that they also wanted flexibility going forward.

Best of both worlds

Some 40% of respondents said their employer should offer flexible working hours, while 58% said the ability to set their own working hours – as opposed to having fixed hours – was more important to them than it had been pre-pandemic.

The majority (66%) also said the ability to work from anywhere was more important now.

In a report entitled The Future of Workfuture of work psychologist Viola K. Kraus said: “Younger generations accept flexible working options as a given; they simply won’t work for a company that doesn’t offer it.”

However, she added: “21-24-year-olds in particular struggle to remain motivated when working remotely. This is partly because older professionals have more experience, while young people are still learning to navigate the office politics and have a natural need to be sociable and have those human connections.”

She said that those at the early stages of their careers were concerned that remote working could lead to a lack of career progression – some 63% of survey respondents said career progression and training opportunities had become more important to them.

“It is proving a struggle to keep young people motivated and engaged with a fully remote model. This presents a change management challenge, but after nearly a year of working remotely, by the middle of 2021 we will have new ways of working and more clarity over new career progression paths for younger employees.”

Top distractions

A separate study by office equipment supplier Office Needle gave some insight into some of the reasons younger workers find it difficult to stay motivated while working from home.

It surveyed 670 workers between May and June on the main distractions they face while working remotely, with the average age of respondents between 25 and 40.

It found that mobile phones and social media were the top distractions for workers, with 56% saying the former pulled their attention away from work, and 44% admitting the latter did the same.

Respondents also said they were taking significant breaks for entertainment, with 34% saying they spent more than an hour watching Netflix during their shift and 15% playing video games for more than an hour while on the clock.

Technology aside, household tasks also proved to be taking up significant amounts of workers’ time during working hours. The majority (67%) of those surveyed said they cooked during work hours, while 30% of dog owners said they walked their pet every day during their shift.

Other key distractions were doing chores (77%), taking care of children (31%), working out (32%) and having people over at their house (34%). Worryingly, 11% admitted to getting high or drunk on work time.

Photo curtosy of Canva.com

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Workers across Britain are missing out as the UK lags the rest of the world when it comes to public holidays, with the lowest number in a comparison of more than 170 nations.

This was the finding of research by digital coaching firm Ezra, which cross-referenced the number of public holidays on offer with average daily net income to work out where workers received the most amount of money per year for not working on public holidays.

Taking both measures into account, the UK moved significantly up from the bottom of the table, but it still failed to make it into the top 30, with workers having an average income of £570 for bank holidays.

Switzerland, on the other hand, offers the biggest benefit to workers. With the average person in the country earning a net income of £130 per day and with 24 public holidays per year, the average public holiday pay check is an impressive £3,131.

Luxembourg came in second, with its 15 public holiday days per year and average earnings of £120 per day equating to £1,802, while in Israel, the 24 days of public holiday led to a total of £1,796 in earnings for time off.

Commenting on the findings, Nick Goldberg, Founder of Ezra, said: “Public holidays are a great way to boost national sentiment and offer an opportunity to come together and celebrate as a nation, whether it be in memory of a historic moment or simply a long weekend.

“It’s interesting to see that those nations offering some of the highest levels of income also offer a good level of public holidays and it goes to show that motivation and productivity aren’t solely dependent on working all hours of the day.”

Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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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.”

Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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