It seems as though every major economy is experiencing a skills shortage at present. This week, we see how the skills gap has caused one police force to change its tactics – and has provided money-making opportunities for those on the other side of the law, too.
The Met opens the door to recruit new detectives
The London Metropolitan police force moved to address a skills gap within its service this week, by allowing civilian applicants to join the force at the rank of detective for the first time.
London’s Metropolitan police currently has more than six hundred unfilled detective vacancies; the scheme will include in-work training for new recruits, as well as examinations. Previously, detective roles were filled exclusively by internal recruitment, with uniformed officers moving up through the ranks to fill vacancies.
This new change is a particularly interesting test case, because the role of the police force is so emotive – and unavoidably politicised. Although it seems inevitable that the new initiative will attract some criticism for ”lowering the bar” to allow less suitable candidates into the force, the move is potentially highly beneficial – bringing flexibility and a broader scope to a previously rigid and narrow recruitment strategy.
It seems the Met understands that today’s best candidates often acquire valuable skills through unconventional or informal means – something that every recruiter can identify with. eBoss thinks that the Met may need some new semantic search recruitment software to track all of those potential new recruits!
Recruitment market data continues to signal a skills gap
Recruitment industry data compiled by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) shows resilience despite uncertainty – but also signals growing recognition of a skills gap opening in the UK employment market.
Data for April 2017 shows that demand once again outstripped the skills supply, with unfilled vacancies rising 0.3% across all industries. Unfilled contractor vacancies fell significantly (12%) against figures for April 2016; meanwhile successful appointments for both long term and contract posts rose by 4% over the previous year.
Broadly speaking, the numbers show a growing acceptance of short term contracts within Britain’s workforce – although a few industries did buck the trend. Social work saw a substantial 36% growth in demand for full time staff – though the number of posts successfully filled actually fell by 17%.
However, the drive for a greater number of full time social carers may have been in response to changes in IR35 tax rules, which could have resulted in a significant tax increase for many employers reliant on agency staff. With a recent reversal of that tax ruling, it will be interesting to see if the trend normalises in time, or continues along its current trajectory.
Recruiters will have to achieve greater agility in their response to both clients’ need for skills, and the ever-changing trends of the labour market.
Acquire Learning case reveals more problems of skills gaps
An Australian vocational educator has been served a $4.5 million fine this week, after a court ruled that the business broke Australian Consumer Law while selling its courses.
The Australian Federal court ruled that Acquire Learning made false and misleading representations which breached rules on consumer agreements, throughout a telemarketing campaign that came to the attention of authorities in 2014.
The court found that Acquire Learning used unfair tactics to manipulate enrolment rates for their courses, including selling programmes of vocational education that were unsuitable or inadequate for consumers’ needs. A spokeswoman for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said: “These consumers were vulnerable: at a disadvantage and pressured into unsuitable online courses”.
It is an interesting case for recruitment watchers, because the company exploited a well-documented skills gap in the Australian jobs market to misrepresent its products as a gateway to employment for out of work recruits. It is just one of the ways that the employment landscape has become more challenging and complex for both workers and recruiters to navigate.
Acquire Learning went into voluntary administration in March of this year.
Capita plans recruitment exit
Capita is close to completing a sell-off of its recruitment brand, it was revealed this week.
The planned sale of Capita Specialist Recruitment to specialist investors Endless is hoped to raise approximately £25m, and would represent a full departure from the recruitment industry for the outsourcing experts. The sale is one of a number of re-focusing strategies for Capita, who slipped out of the FTSE 100 during a difficult 2016.
The move also fits the narrative that many with a long-term eye on the recruitment industry will recognise. In an increasingly competitive and specialised marketplace, specialist knowledge, skills and software services are considered the winning formula for achieving results, and winning clients.