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Mind the talent gap – sticky workers refuse to budge


Despite high levels of unemployment, shortages of managerial, specialist and technical skills are resulting in a renewed talent war as individuals remain reluctant to change jobs due to the ongoing economic uncertainty.

These are the findings of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s annual Resourcing and Talent Planning survey, which is produced in conjunction with recruitment consultancy Hays.
The research revealed that, while three quarters of employers are seeing an increase in the number of unsuitable candidates going after job vacancies due to high levels of unemployment, 52% believe that competition for prized skills is on the rise compared with 41% last year and 20% in 2009.
Three quarters of respondents also indicated that they were experiencing recruitment difficulties because of a lack of available specialist or technical skills (72% compared with 67% last year). The most tricky posts to fill were managers/professionals and technical (28%).
A key reason behind the talent shortage, however, was the reluctance of workers to take the risk of changing jobs in a volatile market. As a result, while median staff turnover rates have remained consistently low throughout the recession and beyond, they slowed even further this year to hit 12.5% compared with 13.5% in 2010.
Claire McCartney, the CIPD’s resourcing and talent planning adviser, said: “Free movement of talented individuals is being impeded by a reluctance to voluntarily change jobs in volatile economic times – and the problem is worse now than it was at the height of the recession.”
But with more public sector cuts and only marginal private sector growth expected, a continued ‘safety first’ approach from employees was likely, with many choosing to stay put for the next couple of years at least.
This situation would make it difficult for employers to “really drive competitive edge through the recruitment of talented individuals” and risked “slamming an unwelcome brake on the long-term competitiveness of the UK economy”, McCartney said.
In a bid to try and bridge the skills gaps, however, three out of 10 employers were now increasing their use of apprenticeships, 27% were upping the number of interns they took on and 10% were considering sponsoring students through university.
Two out of five cited the coalition government’s policy of increasing tuition fees as a concern because they feared it would reduce the number of graduates coming onto the jobs market, damaging access to yet another pool of talent.
Nonetheless, nearly half of public sector organisations said they were implementing a recruitment freeze over the year ahead compared with a fifth of organisations overall. Two thirds of public authorities and 29% of private companies will also be cutting the number of new recruits they intend to hire.

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