Professional Hiring Index: Recruitment across the North of England set for a strong year ahead

Professional Hiring Index North - Image Credit: Thinkstock

by Ed O’Connell, Executive Services Director, Robert Half

The North of England is on track for a positive year of hiring  in 2015.  Recruitment in Leeds and Manchester as well as the surrounding areas has resulted in  a strong demand for skilled professionals and demand outweighs supply. The labour market has firmly moved into a post-recessionary cycle, giving the upper hand to talented candidates who are now in a position to negotiate for the best positions in the job market.

  • Recruitment forecast for the North

In the Professional Hiring Index recently released from Robert Half UK,hiring trends outlined that almost half (48%) of HR directors in the North of England have plans to increase their recruitment of permanent staff in the first six months of 2015.

The index reveals that less than one in 10 (8%) Northern companies will freeze hiring in the next six months, by not filling vacant positions nor creating new ones. That figure is one point higher than it was the last survey six months ago.

Four in ten (38%) Northern HR directors are maintaining their staffing levels by only filling vacated positions, compared to 35% in mid-2014.

These figures reflect that Leeds, Manchester and the surrounding areas in the North of England are positioned firmly for business and labour market growth. In comparison to London, where 58% plan to add permanent headcount, there is still an accelerated hiring trend in the North that we have seen pick up since the beginning of this year, and is expected to continue long into 2015.

  • Skills shortage

The battle for talent shows no signs of decreasing as the supply-demand shortfall continues. Nine in 10 (93%) HR directors in the North say it is challenging to identify skilled professional-level employees for their company. One third (33%) state that it is very challenging.

General demand outweighing supply for candidates is the top reason cited by HR directors for their struggles in recruiting staff (35%). This is followed by a lack of niche technical experts (32%) and a quarter saying a general lack of business and commercial skills (24%) amongst potential recruits is the main cause for the skills shortage.

  • Employee turnover

Staff turnover has also been challenging for hiring managers as the professional labour market heats up. Eight in ten (80%) Northern HR executives are concerned about losing top performers to other job opportunities in the next year. This will result in pressure on employers to increase compensation packages in order to assist in employee retention. With employee turnover a high concern, it is likely to drive broader wage inflation through 2015 and beyond.

  • Employment trends across the North

Figures from the Office for National Statistics support this increasingly positive picture. Figures released in February 2015 show that unemployment in Yorkshire (6.1%), the North East (8.0%) and North West (6.5%) of England, had decreased comparatively from one year ago. 

This is further compounding the challenges that employers face when looking for professional-level employees, including accounting, finance, technology and specialist office staff. However this is a benefit for those skilled professionals looking for jobs across the North of England.

The Robert Half study is based on more than 200 interviews with HR directors from companies across the UK, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location.