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

26 January 2015
  • 48% of HR directors are planning to increase hiring of permanent, professional employees in the first six months of 2015
  • 93% of HR executives say it is a challenging environment to find skilled professional-level employees and 80% are concerned about losing top performers

Leeds, 26 January 2015 – Almost half (48%) of HR directors based in the North of England 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.  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 8% of HR executives believe their company will reduce their overall headcount over the period.  Similarly, 8% believe their company will freeze hiring in the next six months, by not filling vacant positions or creating new ones.   

HR directors based in the North of England 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

48%

56%

Maintaining – only filling vacated positions

38%

35%

Freezing – not filling vacated positions and not creating new ones

8%

9%

London leads the UK in creating new roles, with the number of businesses expanding headcount a full  10 points ahead of the North (48%).

 

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%

Employee retention continues to be a major concern for Northern HR professionals as the labour market heats up. Four in five (80%) HR executives are concerned about losing top performers to other job opportunities in the next year and this will see pressure on employers to increase salary and benefits packages in order to retain them. This is likely to drive broader wage inflation through 2015 and beyond.

Ed O’Connell, Executive Services Director, Leeds, Robert Half UK said:  “We are witnessing the typical post-recessionary power shift, with rapidly increasing demand for niche skills and commercial acumen affording candidates a position of strength from which to negotiate. Firms in the North of England looking to expand their employee base are likely to drive up wages with the increased competition for the most sought-after professionals. Companies who want to attract skilled employees will need to look once again towards generous remuneration packages. 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.”

The war for talent is set to increase dramatically in the next 12 months due to an ongoing skills shortage in the Northern labour force.  Almost all (93%) 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.

General demand outweighing supply, in turn increasing competition between employers, is the main reason (35%) that HR executives in the North are finding it challenging to find skilled professionals. A lack of niche technical experts closely follows at 32% and almost a quarter (24%) stated that a lack of commercial acumen was a main challenge. Systemic problems regarding the development of suitable recruits for the job market was cited by 8% of Northern HR executives, significantly lower than those in Scotland (21%) and the South West (17%).

ENDS

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 and #1 in our industry on FORTUNE® magazine’s “World's Most Admired Companies” list (2015). Founded in 1948, the company has over 340 offices worldwide and 18 in the United Kingdom providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, and administrative professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and job seeker resources at roberthalf.co.uk and twitter.com/roberthalfuk.