Danny Kimber managing director of Responsive Personnel in Swindon provides his commentary on the unemployment figures released today, Wednesday, 11 November 2015.
With the latest figures showing national unemployment at a seven-year low and the South West yet again leading the UK with the highest level of employment, at 77.9%, the question of where local companies can find the right people to fill their vacancies is becoming a pressing matter. With the lowest unemployment of any region at just 3.9%, employers in the South West, and Wiltshire in particular, are struggling to fill any vacancies especially for skilled and experienced positions.
Businesses in this region have been growing and prospering in recent years, but the squeeze on the available workforce is rising up their risk list. With the seasonal demand for additional staff at this time of year there surely cannot be anyone who really wants a job left, can there?
Well, the headline figures only tell part of the story. Whilst employment is increasing there is a growing disparity between current business requirements and the available skills and resources. Businesses are under pressure like never before to retain good staff and give them new skills. Some companies are simply not geared up to develop their people in the new skills required today, with investment having suffered so much in recent years.
Investment in people and the resources they need has to happen now.
In the recruitment industry we are finding a distinct shortage of industrial sector candidates. Increased training in the skills and knowledge needed would be a first step and identifying those most appropriate for this is vital. Assessment, evaluation and monitoring of staff development is an essential element to a comprehensive improvement plan. But companies also need to be thinking more creatively to meet their needs. Flexible employment practices can help, allowing more people to enter the workplace. Apprenticeships and on the job training are another important element, especially for the younger unemployed or those who have been out of the workforce for a time. Valuable new skills can be developed and brought in to the workforce by working in partnership with local training and education providers.
It is also vital, though, that companies bring in the right people with the appropriate attitude, interest and willingness to learn and develop in to a role. Measuring and understanding these through a traditional interview process can be next to impossible, so structured and well informed evaluation processes can be immensely beneficial to long term successful recruiting.
Given the growing pressure in the local jobs market and the momentum that is beginning to come through in business confidence, any local employer should be looking ahead, evaluating their future plans against the growing risk presented by a squeezed jobs market and taking action now to ensure they can meet their potential future staff needs. Only in this way will they be able to deliver the growth that we all want to see.
Danny Kimber is managing director of Responsive Personnel, an innovative recruitment and career agency based off Gipsy Lane in Swindon. To find out more about Responsive Personnel’s services call 01793 513 000 or find them on Facebook and Twitter.