• There is no doubt that the combination of Brexit and COVID-19 has led to the perfect storm impacting recruitment in a number of industry sectors.

    From logistics to the care sector, hospitality to food production; it seems that few industries are completely immune to current recruitment challenges.

    For some roles, the short-term solution seems to be with the relaxation of immigration requirements. This would make it easier for overseas workers to take up roles within struggling sectors in the UK. There is, however, no guarantee that foreign workers will want to take up those roles. The pandemic has taught many the value of being close to friends and family. What’s more, salary levels in the UK are also no longer as attractive as they were 10 years ago, compared to many places elsewhere.

    The current immigration policies as a result of Brexit may also deter some people from wanting to live and work in the UK. Immigration is always an inflammatory issue, and whatever the situation with the recruitment crisis, it is unlikely that the government will want to be seen to relax current immigration rules too much.

    We have had a number of clients who have told us that COVID was just the icing on the cake for many of their foreign workforce, who, since the catalyst of Brexit, decided to return to their home countries.

    Recruitment – looking ahead

    Long-term, the solution is perhaps easier to map out. By identifying roles in sectors in need of additional workforce and ensuring that training is available to those coming out of education, organisations should hopefully be able to gain the people with the skills required to undertake those roles.

    In my opinion, the greater challenge will be making certain jobs attractive and appealing to younger generations and those looking to re-train in different areas.

    Whilst higher rates of pay may be one way of achieving this, businesses, if not already, should be mindful that most current research suggests that what younger generations tend to value is much wider reaching than just their pay packet.

    For the latest generation entering the workplace, there has been a generally recognised shift in attitudes to what candidates now expect from their employers. Flexible working options, genuine care for employee wellbeing, a desire for personal growth and the opportunity to make a positive difference on a wider level are top considerations.

    Organisations’ ethics too are arguably now more important factors in the choice of an employer or a career than they have ever been before. The climate change crisis has recently been cited as the top cause for anxiety and concern by Generation Z. Recent social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter and conversations around equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace are also now very much in the wider public consciousness.

    Therefore it makes sense that those entering the workplace will actively seek organisations who can show demonstrable proof about how they are supporting a diverse workplace culture and commitment to the green agenda.

    These considerations also no doubt play a part in short-term recruitment strategies as well, and there is also a need to think creatively until those skill gaps are filled.

    Answering the recruitment challenge – webinar series

    In the first of ‘Answering the recruitment challenge’ webinar series, which aims to support employers currently feeling the recruitment pinch, we spoke about getting creative with contracts. This included different ways of engaging new staff in a manner that might attract talent, but which also still meets your needs as an employer.

    In the next webinar in this series, our guest speakers from the University of Kent will be focussing on the graduate recruitment market. In particular, they will provide guidance on the steps that can be taken to ensure that the highly skilled talent pool within local universities can be retained within organisations in the region.

    Follow up sessions in the new year will include views from expert recruitment consultants who will share their experiences and advice in respect of the current market, in particular talent acquisition best practice and insights during this period of fierce competition for talent.

    Being able to call upon advice and guidance from specialists in a range of areas can be critical to getting your strategy right. We very much welcome the opportunity to collaborate with other specialists (including from our strong network of local contacts) to ensure your organisation’s strategy helps you to meet your business objectives.

    Guidance for employers

    Whilst we are all hoping for a return to more normal times in the not-too-distant future, it remains difficult to predict where further pinch points in recruitment may arise, given the lack of certainty over what the months ahead will bring.

    It is therefore advisable that all businesses look to their recruitment and retention strategies. I would highly recommend considering what more that you can do to attract and retain talent. This could be simple measures such as broadening you usual recruitment pool, reviewing your ways of operating or the benefits to your staff.

    For further guidance on the issues covered in this article, book a free 30-minute consultation with myself or another member of our Employment team today.

    This content is correct at time of publication

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