Professional Hiring Index: Midlands directors lead the UK in new job creation in 2013

10 July 2013
  • Four in 10 senior directors in the Midlands will create new jobs in the next six months
  • Only 2% of organisations anticipate employee redundancies, down from 5%
  • Nine in 10 executives are challenged in hiring the requisite talent
  • More than half (52%) of Midlands firms are increasing salaries

Birmingham, 10 July 2013 – Four in 10 (40%) directors in the Midlands anticipate the creation of new, permanent roles in the second half of the year, up 16 points from 24% six months ago finds the latest Robert Half Professional Hiring Index (the ‘Index’). More than half (55%) anticipate maintaining headcount levels by filling vacated positions when they arise.

Across the UK, one in three (33%) directors plan to increase their permanent headcount, up nine points from 24% six months ago. Fifty-six per cent will replace vacating staff, thereby maintaining levels, up six points from 50% in January. Only 2% plan to reduce headcount before the end of the year.

UK Directors were asked, “What are your company's hiring plans for permanent professionals in the second half of 2013?” Their responses: 

 

 

North and Scotland

Midlands

London and South East

South West and Wales

 

Jan-June

July-Dec

Jan-June

July-Dec

Jan-June

July-Dec

Jan-June

July-Dec

Expanding – adding new positions

22%

28%

24%

40%

28%

32%

20%

32%

Maintaining – only filling vacated positions

59%

60%

51%

55%

43%

56%

52%

52%

Freezing – not filling vacated positions and not creating new ones

11%

10%

20%

3%

19%

11%

17%

13%

Reducing – eliminating positions

8%

1%

5%

2%

11%

2%

10%

3%

 

More than nine in 10 (92%) UK directors cite recruitment challenges and while the ability to find skilled professionals is uniform across the regions, the proportion of directors reporting that it is ‘very challenging’ to identify the right people is slightly higher in London and the South East (31%) than in the Midlands and in the South West and Wales (both 30%) and the North and Scotland (21%).

Additional hiring in the Midlands is the result of several factors with nearly seven in 10 (67%) citing new projects and initiatives when senior directors were asked their top three reasons for increasing headcount. This was followed by product or service expansion (52%), new market penetration (48%), domestic business growth (33%) and international business growth (22%).

Optimism in the business climate is on the rise, with more than seven in 10 (72%) UK directors expressing confidence in the UK’s domestic growth prospects, up eight points from the beginning of the year. Midlands directors are also optimistic, with seven in 10 (70%) expressing confidence in the UK’s growth prospects in the coming 12 months, up from 62% in January. This is tied with executive optimism in the South West and Wales although lags slightly behind the 78% of London directors with a positive outlook.

Looking at their own company’s projections, more than eight in 10 (84%) UK directors are confident – up from 77% in January -- suggesting a firm’s own combination of strategies, leadership and procedures can offset other macroeconomic factors. Midlands directors are slightly more upbeat with nearly nine in 10 (86%) executives – tied with London and the South East – expressing optimism. This compares to 82% in the North and Scotland and 79% in the South West and Wales.

Midlands-specific statistics

Additional hiring and movement in the job market is prompting directors to increasingly fear losing their best staff. Eight in 10 (79%) are concerned about losing top performers in the coming year, with one in four (24%) indicating they are ‘very concerned’. Recruiting challenges persist with nine in 10 (90%) citing difficulty in finding the skilled talent they require.

While reports exist that wages are not keeping pace with inflation, Midlands firms are leading the country in rises to compensation. More than half (52%) of Midlands directors plan to offer an increase in salaries, up 19 points (33%) from six months and outpacing the national average by 13 points (39%). Likewise, more Midlands-based firms plan bonus increases with one in four (27%) doing so, compared to 21%across the UK. Forty-four per cent plan to keep salary and bonus levels static.

Phil Sheridan, Managing Director UK, Robert Half said: “The employment market for professional occupations continues to gain momentum with companies hiring to fill vacated roles while also creating new ones. Hiring plans in the Midlands are outpacing the other regions in new job creation and executives are optimistic about the remainder of 2013. Many companies that may have put new initiatives or expansion plans on the backburner are again taking advantage of the stronger business outlook and are hiring permanent staff to handle key growth initiatives.”

“As the job market improves, companies are finding that the pool of highly skilled talent is shrinking and the large majority is citing challenges sourcing the requisite talent and keeping them on board. While remuneration continues to be an attractive incentive, companies should also look at other valued benefits such as flexible working, tuition reimbursement and initiatives to improve work-life balance. Many companies are adopting flexible benefits packages to tailor perks to individual preferences.”

Profession specific findings – national statistics

Accounting and finance hiring

Finance and accounting recruitment continues to outpace the average with one in three (34%) CFOs planning to expand their permanent headcount, up from 28% in the first half of the year. More than half (55%) will be maintaining levels and only 2% anticipate employee reductions before the end of the year. Nearly nine in 10 (87%) find it challenging to find skilled financial professionals today with the most challenging areas including accounting, business / financial analysis, financial management / control and compliance. As a result, nearly eight in 10 (79%) are concerned about losing key staff.

Financial services hiring

The financial services sector will lead the way in job growth ahead of other professional occupations finds the Index. Nearly four in 10 (39%) executives anticipate staff augmentations, up eight points from 31% six months ago. The areas of demand include accounting and finance (72%), operational support (69%), risk (33%), revenue-generating (31%) and compliance (23%). Nearly all (99%) express challenges in finding skilled professionals, indicating that talent shortages exist despite media reports about the sector and it is therefore not surprising that 95% are concerned about retaining their top performers. In order to entice existing employees to stay, nearly half (46%) will be increasing salaries and one in four (25%) will increase bonuses.

Hiring for other professional occupations

Job creation across other professional occupations is also trending upwards with nearly three in 10 (29%) anticipating additional hiring, up from 22% six months ago. Nearly six in 10 (59%) directors expect to maintain current levels by backfilling vacated roles and only 3% plan to reduce headcount. Recruitment challenges persist with nine in 10 (93%) expressing difficulty sourcing the requisite talent and 84% are concerned about losing key staff. More than three in 10 (34%) plan to increase salaries and one in five (19%) will be raising bonuses.

- ENDS -

Notes to editors

About the Survey

 The bi-annual Robert Half Professional Hiring Index was developed by Robert Half UK and is conducted by an independent research firm.  The study is based on more than 600 interviews with senior executives from companies across the UK, in areas of HR, financial services, finance and accounting with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location.  The survey was conducted in June 2013.

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. Founded in 1948, the company has over 345 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, human resources and administrative professionals. Named one of the Sunday Times’ 100 Best Companies to Work For, Robert Half offers workplace and job seeker resources at roberthalf.co.uk and twitter.com/roberthalfuk.