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Vacancies down, but hiring process still needs work

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Skills crisis not yet over, experts warn

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data has revealed that UK vacancy rates declined between May and July 2022. But even with the decline, background screening and identity services firm, Sterling, has cautioned firms not to neglect hiring efforts with skills still in short supply. Data shows that neglect may be detrimental to organisations’ long-term hiring strategies.

According to Sterling, even though vacancies are down, the hiring market in the UK is still candidate-led, and the country remains critically short of top talent. In light of this, businesses need to rethink their hiring process to better match the job seeker’s needs.

Based on a global survey of more than 1,200 HR professionals and more than 3,700 recent job seekers, Sterling’s research revealed that 78% of job seekers are dropping out or considering dropping out of the recruitment process due to long, complex screening requirements. A third of the respondents who dropped out said the hiring process was too complicated, while 22% had concerns about the background screening process.

Steve Smith, President of International at Sterling, commented: “With so much uncertainty and with skills still in short supply across most of Europe, this is the time to ensure that you have the right processes in place to secure the talent that you need to continue successfully operating your business. Particularly in a competitive recruitment environment, ensuring applicants have the best possible experience with a brand remains of paramount importance and will be for the foreseeable future.

“When it comes to candidates dropping out of the hiring process, there’s been a wealth of speculation that individuals are getting counter-offers and they are pursuing opportunities elsewhere. While this may be the case for some, the insight we’ve gained from applicants themselves suggests there’s more to this issue that needs to be addressed swiftly. In the current economy, it’s simply not a viable option to overlook how important it is to provide an efficient and engaging experience for candidates throughout the entire hiring process.”

ONS labour response: Decline in jobs doesn’t mean the skills crisis is over

Tania Bowers, Global Public Policy Director at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) commented: “The post-pandemic hiring spike we experienced was bound to come to a halt at some time, but with recession fears looming and on-going Government uncertainty amidst a leadership contest, this drop is a concern for the country’s economy.

“Our own data supports the idea that permanent recruitment is slowing as the impact of the skills shortages over the last few years plays out. However, what our statistics are also indicating is that more businesses are turning to contract professionals as they struggle to fill resourcing needs. The data – provided by the global leader in software for the staffing industry, Bullhorn – revealed that the number of contract roles in the UK grew by 13% in July 2022 when compared to pre-pandemic figures (July 2019). In comparison, the number of permanent jobs dropped by 23% in the same period.”

“This reliance on the non-employed segment of the workforce simply isn’t sustainable at a time when the UK’s attractiveness as a destination to work for international contractors is dwindling post-Brexit. And with the impact of Off Payroll still being felt in the temporary recruitment market, the longer-term availability of these resources and ability to tap into skills in a cost-effective manner is at risk. We urgently need some stability from the Government and a clearer direction on the regulation of the employment market to ensure that the UK can manage through the difficult times ahead.”

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