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  • According to latest government figures, UK businesses are facing their worst staff shortages in over 20 years. This has been brought on by a combination of Brexit, Covid and a lack training opportunities a fact confirmed by the latest survey undertaken by the Institute of Employment Studies. Despite what you may read in the media, it’s not just the haulage and hospitality sectors that are reporting a staffing crisis. Other industries such as Construction and Building Services are also reporting a lack of skilled labour as the aftermath of Brexit and the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic starts to bite. However, it’s not the fact that there is a shortage of jobs, it’s quite the opposite. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) this month showed vacancy levels at an all-time high, with July 2021 job opportunities surpassing pre-pandemic levels. This is obviously great news for the UK economy as we start to recover from the recent lengthy lockdown. However, this also means that some key industries we work in at Multitask Personnel are now struggling to meet the current demand. After hitting a 24 year high in June, these sectors are now failing to recruit enough skilled workers to fulfil their expanding order book. Skills shortage? Skills shortages are nothing new. In 2016, the government was so concerned about safeguarding the future of the industry that they commissioned the ‘Farmer Review’. This was to report on the impact that the shrinking workforce and lack of skills training was having on the sector. It concluded, even back then, that there was a massive skills shortage looming and predicted a 20-25% decline in the available skilled workforce by 2026. Has the situation changed in the past five years? It would seem not. In recent months, we’ve heard Richard Harpin, founder and MD of home repairs business, Homeserve and trades people finder, Checkatrade, voice his concern that the construction industry skills shortages were having a major impact, particularly on the smaller building firms. Thanks to the ever widening skills gap, this is a huge incentive for tradespeople to upskill and reap the benefits of ever rising salaries (average increase of 9% in the past year) and prolific job opportunities in the construction industry. It is said that one of the reasons for this lack of skilled manpower is the declining number of young people entering the industry combined with an ageing workforce. We estimate that almost a quarter of today’s trades’ force are in their 50’s.  What can be done to level out the current shortage of skilled labour in the construction / building services industries? Upskilling and re-training is the answer according to industry leaders. This is something crossbench peer, Lord Bilimoria, founder of Cobra beers and president of the CBI, made very clear at the recent (virtual) Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) annual conference. He said that the government must do more to fill the skills gap by directing people to obtain qualifications for jobs that we know are in short supply. Investing in employment skills is vital for the future of the UK, he confirmed. We fully agree. So much so that, over the years, we have partnered with local providers to provide subsidised training for those working in the construction and building services industries who want to upgrade their skills, re-qualify, or renew their existing qualifications. Thanks to these close links, we can provide registered candidates with discounted training that suits their particular needs, enabling them to apply for vacancies that were previously unavailable to them. What kind of training is currently available? Our partnered training providers offer a wide range of training programmes. All are designed to improve the attendee’s job opportunities with many tailored to the specific needs of the candidate. Construction Site Safety Scheme (CSSS) This covers on site health and safety and is certified by Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). It is also recognised by Build UK who represent over 40% of the UK construction industry. It is also an integral part of the Construction Skills Certification Scheme. Although having a CSCS card is not mandatory to work on site, we have yet to find an employer who does not require employees to hold this accreditation. It does, after all, prove that they have received the required appropriate training and have the level of qualifications necessary to carry out the work safely and efficiently. Asbestos Awareness Another popular area that is relevant to many of our prospective candidates, these short courses are designed to give our candidates the information they need for working in situations where they may disturb the fabric of the building. More in depth courses leading to professional qualifications are also available through us. We have ongoing vacancies for qualified professionals in the construction and building services sector at Multitask Personnel. These industries are, however, experiencing major skills shortages as they fail to attract young people and have an ageing workforce that, in some cases, have been reluctant to enhance their skills. The challenge, for our longer term economic recovery, is for the construction industry to attract a higher skilled workforce in the future.  We have over ten years’ experience in the recruitment of staff for this sector and understand the need for a highly skilled workforce. We recommend that anyone looking to obtain a position, or change jobs, in the construction and building services sector should, if they haven’t already, consider registering with us. This will enable us to identify suitable vacancies and the skills level required to carry out the job description. Should there be a need to upskill, we can then use our close links with training partners to source relevant and in many cases subsidised training support. For further information about subsidised training provision, please contact us on 01709 820102 or enquiries@multitaskpersonnel.co.uk
  • As we start to see greater numbers of people returning to their workplace, after months of working from home or other satellite locations, employers tell us that their next biggest challenge is to ensure they not only come back but stay. In this blog we look at the importance of a having an employee retention strategy in place, in a post-Covid world. In previous blogs, we talked about the high cost of staff turnover and how to create a workplace culture that re-built confidence in an organisation in the aftermath of the Covid-19 lockdown. However, as lockdown eases, and staff have had time to re-assess their current employment, it’s now even more crucial that employers introduce staff retention techniques to hold on to the organisation’s best talent. As we’ve said before, recruiting the right staff to start with is one of the key factors in retaining staff. Recruitment should always be based on attracting candidates that are committed to the beliefs and long term aspirations of the recruiter. This is particularly relevant in these uncertain times. From effective recruitment to competitive remuneration, there are a number of techniques aimed at encouraging your staff to remain with you. Let’s have a look at probably the most important tip first. Hire the right person We know you would expect us to say this, but it’s true. You can introduce as many retention schemes as you want but if the employee does not fully value the long term opportunities with the organisation, then the chances of them leaving will be much higher. What sort of techniques will help you stem any flow of staff leakages?                 The first part of developing a staff retention strategy is to ask yourself why people leave their jobs in the first place. Offering a competitive salary package is clearly going to be a key factor in initially attracting the right people but also goes a long way in ensuring they stay. But it’s not the only incentive that will retain your talent. In fact, a high salary with little or no benefits can sometimes have completely the opposite effect. Today, the primary staff retainer is work-life balance, as workplace stress becomes an even bigger issue since the start of the Covid pandemic. Working from home or away from the office has highlighted this even more. The demands of juggling home life with a busy work schedule but without the ‘always active’ support in the background, has led to increased anxiety and unease. Agile working One concept that is currently being promoted as a stress leveller is agile working, but is it more than just a combination of working from home and flexible hours? Organisations that are looking to instigate a staff retention policy will now be looking at the many levels of agile working, that involves doing work differently to pre-covid.  However, this new way of working is far more than hybrid working (a mix of home and office based locations). At its heart is an understanding of what incentivises staff to not only want to stay but develop as part of the organisation’s growth. This concept of smart working is what agile working is all about and involves empowering staff. This means focussing on results and performance rather than previous parameters, such as time and attendance. As many employers have discovered during the recent lockdown, 20th century maxims are no longer relevant in a 21st Century global economy. We know that if you create a positive workplace culture of trust and reliability, where staff are involved in their own future, productivity increases, efficiency improves, and staff retention becomes less of an issue. Individual support It does, however, depend on the support each individual receives from the employer. Two key activities that increase staff retention are involving them in decision making, and actively encouraging and providing professional learning and development. We know from our own feedback, that skilled placements are happier and more interested in their work when they have a learning and development plan in place. As we start to adjust to a new way of working, now is a good time to flesh out a career development plan with individual employees. This is not only good for them but of major benefit to the company, as it factors in the objectives and goals of both the organisation and the person themselves. There is no doubt that staff members who feel frustrated by the apparent lack of advancement or promotion are more likely to look elsewhere if they believe they are stuck in a rut with no recognisable signs of progression. Establishing a growth plan in conjunction with the employee will create an aura of confidence and reassurance. This is integral to the branding value of the organisation, ultimately leading to an increase in the employee’s pride in their work-place.  By setting goals and benchmarks, staff can more readily envisage their future. This, along with a competitive salary package, a good work-life balance, a mechanism for generating feedback in addition to regular appraisals, along with a positive and diverse workplace environment will go a long way to making sure your staff have no reason to consider leaving. If you would like to discuss your employee retention strategies, and how your next recruitment campaign can be built around this, please drop us a line on 01709 820102 or enquiries@multitaskpersonnel.co.uk
  • On average, employers will typically interview six to ten candidates for every advertised vacancy and applicants will undertake between two and three interviews before being shortlisted. Of course, Covid has had a massive impact on the recruitment process, and in many cases, this means the traditional job searching process may not necessarily apply to some industries and sectors. Also, as lockdown restrictions are lifted, more staff return to working in the office or site, and we get back to some sort of normality, many people are also now questioning their current career choice. In fact, having had over a year to consider their current position, we are now finding an increasing number of people are wanting to do something different. The question is what? It’s not simply a case of ploughing through the job vacancies anymore, it’s more about finding the right job, and increasingly important, one that’s relevant to you. Where do you start? As the furlough scheme starts to wind down, combined with the strength of the economic recovery, it’s no surprise to see an increasing number of jobs being advertised. Understandably, many of these are in industries that were hit hardest by the Covid lockdown. However, we are also seeing a growth in other professional sectors. The latest UK government statistics indicate that over 750,000 jobs were publicly advertised from March to May 2021, no doubt due in many parts, to the increasing success of the Covid vaccine programme. Could now be a good time to find that dream job? Let’s face it. We spend a considerable amount of time at work. In fact, about a third of our life is spent working, based on an average 35 hours a week, so it’s important that we not only earn a living but also enjoy what we are doing. But with an increasing number of vacancies, how do we cut through the job lists and find a job that, not only fulfils our monetary requirements, but also motivates us? This is especially relevant if we have been working off site during the recent lockdown. Register with an agency Traditional job searching, especially in the current environment, is a long and laborious slog. However, one way of making your task easier is to sign up with a recruitment partner, such as ourselves. Registering your details with us means you will hear of any suitable vacancies in advance of them being publicly advertised. Also, as an independent recruiter with many years’ experience, we provide a flexible, tailored service that’s responds to your specific requirements. Having specialist recruitment divisions also helps. Our team members, all have time served experience in their specialist field and can sit down and discuss your options with you when you are ready. How do you know when you’re ready, and where do you start? The first thing to consider is, what is it that motivates you to get up in a morning and go to work? Some would say instantly that it’s the money, while others, especially those that have been furloughed and / or working from home this past year, would say that there’s more to work than the pay packet. And we’d agree. From our experience, we find that everyone responds to different motivations when it comes to work. There are some who have a secure and well paid career but suffer from work fatigue, while others dread the looming of Monday morning and the thought of another miserable week at work. Of course, it doesn’t have to be like this. Yes, we fully understand the practical reality of paying the bills and keeping a roof over our heads is very real, but we also find that most employees rank job satisfaction and personal fulfilment above salary when it comes to what motivates us to get up and go to work. Your career, your choice We believe there’s no point being miserable at work and feeling lost and forgotten when there are increasing opportunities for pursuing a different career, post lockdown. So, unless you have little choice in taking the first job offered, now could be a very good time to cut through the plethora of vacancies and start focussing on your next career choice. It could be the first step on the employment ladder, a completely new career change based on existing skills and experience, a slight deviation to your current career or even a fanciful idea that’s been brooding for some time. Over the years we have reiterated that nothing is impossible. You only have to ask Mexborough born, Craig Senior, who in 2019 quit his job in the hospitality sector to become CEO of Herm, one of the smallest of the inhabited Channel Islands. He is still using his skill set and experience but has applied it to a dream job he saw advertised while on holiday with his family.  So, in our opinion, the answer to a fulfilling career is to focus on the things you love doing. This could be a professional skill set, a hobby or interest, or something truly off the wall as with Craig. Having said that, we do, of course, fully understand the challenges involved in finding the job that’s relevant to you. We are, after all, doing this every day for our registered clients. One thing we always suggest, is to jot down all the things you dream of doing in a job, possibly stuff you’ve dreamed of in the past – no matter how inconceivable it might sound. We’re sure Craig Senior never thought he would be moving lock stock and barrel to the tiny island of Herm when working as a retail manager in the hospitality sector. Many times, we overlook how our skills and experience (including hobbies and interests) can be transferred to a sector we had not previously considered. We can help you identify transferable skills and sectors that match your accomplishments Also, don’t just focus on job titles. Delve behind the advertised description to see if it offers (or could offer) ingredients that enable you to not only earn a living but also fulfil your passion and values. There is no doubt, that the jobs market in 2021 is very different to pre-Covid. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Furlough) comes to an end in September and while 2.4m workers (down 50% since January) continue to rely on State payments, it is expected that the change in employer contributions will encourage more people back to ‘normal’ working. Also, despite unemployment estimated to peak at around 5.5% over the next 18 months, we are certainly seeing an optimism in the jobs market, as UK firms boost investment in their workforce. Strategic planning For those looking for their dream job or just simply for a way to cut through all the current job vacancy lists, the key is to create a strategic plan. For example, start by identifying ‘growth’ sectors that are currently experiencing a shortage of professionally qualified staff. These include engineering, customer service, hospitality, construction, and transportation. Even if you don’t have experience in these fields, on the job training is usually available. Finally, don’t forget with the jobs market starting to bounce back, now is the time to identify your transferable skills (not just work related) that could just open up the doors to that dream job. For more information on cutting through the job lists, contact us on 01709 820102 or enquiries@multitaskpersonnel.co.uk