Professional hiring index: 2015 set to be a bumper year for recruitment in the Midlands

The Professional Hiring Index for the first half of 2015 looks at hiring trends and skills shortages that are expected to impact businesses across the Midlands in UK

  • 50% of HR directors are planning to increase hiring of permanent, professional employees in the first six months of 2015
  • 83% of HR executives say it is a challenging environment to find skilled professional-level employees and 78% are concerned about losing top performers

Birmingham, 26 January 2015 – Half (50%) of Midlands-based HR directors plan to expand hiring, with their companies set to add new positions in the first six months of 2015 according to the latest Professional Hiring Index1 (‘the Index’) from Robert Half UK.  Twenty two points higher than six months prior, the research highlights that the labour market has firmly shifted into a post-recessionary cycle, where professionals with marketable skills hold the advantage as candidate demand outweighs supply.

The Index reveals that just 3% of HR executives believe their company will reduce their overall headcount over the period.  Less than one in 20 (5%) believe their company will freeze hiring in the next six months, by not filling vacant positions or creating new ones.

Midlands HR directors were asked, “What are your company's hiring plans for permanent professional-level employees in the next six months? Would you say you are…”


H1 2015 (Jan-June)

H2 2014 (July-Dec)

Expanding – adding new positions



Maintaining – only filling vacated positions



Freezing – not filling vacated positions and not creating new ones



Reducing – eliminating positions



Hiring levels are displaying positive signs that the economy is returning to pre-recessionary levels. While slightly lagging behind London at 58%, the Midlands are leading the way with in adding permanent roles with half (50%) of HR directors planning to create new roles in the first half of this year, compared to last year’s index where only three in ten (28%) hiring managers planned to do so.


  UK-wide London / South East South West / Wales Midlands North Scotland
Expanding – adding new positions 47% 58% 40% 50% 48% 40%
Maintaining – only filling vacated positions 42% 38% 50% 43% 38% 43%
Freezing – not filling vacated positions and not creating new ones 8% 5% 8% 5% 8% 13%

However, the war for talent is set to increase dramatically in the next 12 months due to an ongoing skills shortage in the labour force.  Eight in 10 (83%) HR professionals say it is a challenging environment to identify skilled professional-level employees for their organisation, with a third (33%) stating it is very challenging.  

A lack of niche technical experts was cited by 42% of HR directors surveyed as the reason they were struggling to recruit suitable personnel for their organisation.  Increasing competition between employers was a significant factor, with 30% of respondents stating demand was outstripping supply for candidates.   Systemic problems regarding the development of suitable recruits for the job market are still posing a problem for employers.  One in five (18%) HR professionals believe it is challenging to fill positions because candidates still lack the fundamental commercial and business skills required for their organisation. 

James Sayer, Director, Midlands, Robert Half said: “Businesses in Birmingham have firmly moved into a post-recessionary hiring mode where they need to make additional hires to support growth and a drive for profitability. Companies are confident and this is reflected in their need to bring in additional support. However with an increasing demand and a shortage of supply, companies will will need to look once again at providing generous remuneration packages to secure the top talent. “

It’s also important to “re-recruit” current staff in a bid to retain them, making sure they are aware of training programmes and opportunities to progress, as well as other factors such as flexible working to facilitate work-life balance. As employee retention continues to be a major concern for HR professionals, four in five (78%) are concerned about losing top performers to other job opportunities in the next year. This is likely to drive broader wage inflation through 2015 and beyond.


Notes to editors

1      The bi-annual study was developed by Robert Half UK and is conducted by an independent research firm.  The study is based on more than 200 interviews with senior HR executives from companies across the UK, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location.

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. We have once again been named to FORTUNE’s “World’s Most Admired Companies®” list and remains the top-ranked staffing firm (February 2020). Founded in 1948, the company has over 300 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal and administrative professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and jobseeker resources at and