Professional hiring index: 2015 set to be a bumper year for South West recruitment

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 South West of UK

  • 40% of HR directors in South West are planning to increase hiring of permanent, professional employees in the first six months of 2015
  • 90% of HR executives say it is a challenging environment to find skilled professional-level employees and 75% are concerned about losing top performers

Bristol, 26 January 2015 – Four in ten (40%) HR directors in the South West of the UK 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.  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 10 (8%) believe their company will freeze hiring in the next six months, by not filling vacant positions or creating new ones.   

South West 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



Survey does not equal 100 due to rounding

Half of (50%) South West and Welsh HR directors are maintaining (only filling vacated positions) compared to four in ten (40%) who are expanding, adding new positions. While more moderate than hiring in London and the South East as well as the Midlands (where 58% and 50% respectively plan to add permanent headcount), it demonstrates that the region is firmly positioned for business growth in 2015.

  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 HR professionals as the labour market heats up. Three quarters (75%) of 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.

Matt Weston, Director, South West, Robert Half said: “Hiring levels are showing signs of surpassing pre-recessionary levels. From a recruitment perspective we are finding that companies in the South West are looking to 2015 as a year to expand their businesses, and one way of doing this is hiring skilled professionals to help with increasing workloads. However due to demand outweighing supply and a lack of technical experts, companies are discovering that it is becoming harder to source skilled professionals without external assistance.”

The war for talent is set to increase dramatically in the next 12 months due to an ongoing skills shortage in the labour force.  Nine in 10 (90%) HR professionals say it is a challenging environment to identify skilled professional-level employees for their organisation, with a quarter (25%) stating it is very challenging.  

A lack of niche technical experts was cited by 36% of HR directors surveyed as the reason they were struggling to recruit appropriate personnel for their organisation.  Increasing competition between employers was a significant factor, with 22% 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.  A quarter (25%) of HR professionals believe it is challenging to fill positions because candidates still lack the fundamental commercial and business skills required for their organisation. 


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