Recruitment reflections

Posted on 21 Jun 2011 by The Manufacturer

CBI is vindicated over ill-conceived implementation of employment regulation as survey shows 76% of businesses are struggling with abolition of default retirement age.

The six-monthly CBI recruitment survey reaches 335 employers, who are responsible for around three and a half million British workers.

The survey is broad in scope, incorporating input from both public and private sector companies. Its findings reflect the confidence of business in the economic environment and their growth intentions.

The information provided in the survey is designed to help companies take strategic decisions and form HR policy with less risk. It also helps companies to make sense of the scaremongering and rumour spreading which tends to arise around employment regulation, allowing leaders to see clearly what they should be concerned about and how to prepare.

As Mr Cridland explained to attendees at yesterday’s press briefing, the results of this fourteenth survey, titled Navigating choppy waters, the responses to the latest survey show that the environment for business in Britain is relatively robust. Private sector are leading the way with this trend with 90% of private sector firms now engaged in recruitment activity, a barometer for confidence and an indicator of plans for growth.

Having said this Cridland was quick to emphasize that recruitment drives, though commonplace, are also cautious in nature. Cridland praised this restraint on the part of employers seeking to take advantage of the early stages of economic upturn saying that the sense of managers had avoided a scenario of uncontrolled wage inflation.

Focusing on recruitment trends Albert Ellis, CEO of Harvey Nash, said that employers were showing a growing interest in the benefits of flexible working but were also giving increasing attention to recruitment of technical knowledge to support flexible working infrastructures. This includes recruiting staff with new media, mobile technology and social media skills. Talents which support agility and competitive position in the modern market place across sectors.

Among the generally positive messages to be drawn from the survey there are however some areas of concern. Many of these are highly relevant to manufacturing employers.

Highest on the list of worries stated by survey respondents (comprising senior executives from companies of all sizes) was the potential impact of employment regulation and the constraining factor of the UK skills pool.

With regards to this first issue the abolition of the default retirement age (DRA) has proven to have lived up to the fears expressed before it came into effect. A third of respondent said that the repercussion of the DRAs abolition were having significant adverse effects on their businesses while 76% said that they were experiencing some effects.

Cridland pointed to these statistics as proof of the fact that government have set a precedent for the implementation of policies which, while theoretically sound, have not been considered in the light of practical implementation. Cridland cited the upcoming changes in agency worker regulation as another possible scenario for the appearance of such unintended consequences.

It is unsurprising that anxiety over the availability of skills was also thrown up by the survey but disappointing, given the efforts being made by government and skills organisations to establish employer led skills development. Fifty four per cent of employers still lack confidence in the ability of the UK to provide competitive skills in the future. In the light of this the survey also vocalised worries over ease of access to skills from outside the EU.

On questioning Both Cridland and Ellis acknowledge that this was a particular concern for manufacturers given a sidelining of STEM based vocational skills over recent years.

This survey from CBI and Harvey Nash highlights some important macro trends in employer behaviour. For more focused analysis of the trends in the manufacturing sector readers can look forward to The Manufacturer-Harvey Nash Manufacturing Employment Trends Survey 2011 which will be launched soon. See to take part in this survey.

A report on this manufacturing focused survey will be made available at The Manufacturer of the Year Awards 2011. See for more details.