Filed under BlogMonday, 14 January 2013
Is the jobs market in Wales bouncing back, what are the key growth sectors and what challenges lie ahead for recruiters?
Our latest Policy Forum in Cardiff was an opportunity to exchange views on all these issues and agree campaigning priorities for 2013. The meeting was also a platform for engaging with CBI Wales on priorities for the wider business community in the principality.
In terms of the overall market, Philippa George, REC Regional Director for Wales and managing director of Pier Consulting, underlined that fact that "things were on the right track" and that the demand for staff was improving - even in sectors like construction that where especially hard hit during the worst of the recession. However, Philippa also pointed out that margin pressures were a constant challenge.
Key messages from the meeting:
Government rhetoric does not fit with what is happening on the ground: Recruiters noted a distinct lack of clarity in government initiatives. For all the talk of cutting red tape, the reality is that businesses have actually seen an increase in bureaucracy,- particularly linked to AWR and preparing for pensions auto-enrolment. Looking ahead, the focus must be on delivering tangible benefits through the review of the Conduct Regulations and by enhancing procurement procedures.
Public procurement is a key obstacle for SMEs: Despite commitments to support SMEs, the feedback from REC members in Wales is that practices on the ground continue to mitigate against SMEs. For example, local authorities are driving down margins to an unsustainable level in sectors such as care. There was support for the REC's VMS Code of Practice and for a pro-active awareness raising campaign to end-users. On the broader procurement challenges, it was agreed that REC should look to renew an on-going dialogue with Value Wales (the main public procurement body in Wales).
Youth employment remains a key concern in Wales: The feedback from members was that more needs to be done to raise educational standards and deliver robust careers guidance. A more positive emphasis on work experience and internships is also needed in conjunction with a drive to make it easier for employers to make use of apprenticeships. The consensus was that the knowledge and expertise of recruiters can play an important role in this area.
The skills disconnect is a potential barrier to growth: This has been a common themes at recent regional and sector group meetings. The issue was flagged by recruiters in Wales operating in high-end sectors such as engineering, technology and creative industries but was also a concern for member looking to fill vacancies for semi-skilled roles in sectors such as industrial.
Attracting new talent to the recruitment industry is vital: This is seen as a major priority for the coming year as the lack of front line staff is already proving a barrier to expansion. The new apprenticeship scheme in recruitment will play a key role. In addition, it is crucial to provide opportunities for on-going development through further industry qualifications and the work of Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP).
We will be taking forward specific campaigns on all these issues during 2013 and member feedback will continue to drive the work of REC Wales and our on-going dialogue with key stakeholders and business organisations. You can follow Tom Hadley on Twitter @HadleysComment.
Contact: Director of Policy, Tom Hadley