So, the job market is on the up (HURRAH), but is it time to breathe a sigh of relief just yet?
As has been much speculated, the latest UK employment figures have shown a phenomenal recovery. Total unemployment has come down sharply (to a rate of 6.6%), leaving just 2.16 million unemployed people in the UK for February to April 2014, 347,000 less than a year earlier. Additionally, there were 30.54 million people in work for February to April 2014, 780,000 more than a year earlier.
So, shouldn’t we be celebrating? Well, that depends upon whether or not you’re an employer. The job market is quite clearly resuming to a state of boom, but as the problem with a lack of jobs begins to dissipate, the problem with a lack of skilled recruits further emerges.
In a survey of 91,000 employers, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills determined that more than one in five vacancies were down, due to a poor skills base.
The UKCES found 146,200 job vacancies (22%) last year were unfilled because of inadequate skills, compared with 91,400 (16%) two years prior.
One of the main sectors for concern is engineering, with recruiters across the UK reporting engineering to be the most in-demand sector for both permanent and temporary roles. REC found that since February 2013, engineering topped the list nine times, and ranked in the top five in-demand sectors a total of 12 times.
The IT sector is facing a similar crisis, with a survey by cloud service provider Reconnix, finding 74% of the UK’s current IT leaders to be experiencing difficulty in recruiting staff with the necessary skills and experience they require. Web application development (38%), Internet and networking (36%) and data analysis (34%), were all highlighted as talent black spots for employers.
A recurring theme for both these sectors has contributed to this skills shortage tremendously; a lack of women pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers. Figures show that female employees make up just 13 per cent of the STEM workforce!
Indeed, women account for just 16% of the UK’s 1.1million-strong IT workforce and a mere 7% for engineering – the lowest representation of any European country. These figures appear even more troubling when you consider that the UK is currently missing out on an extra £2.6bn a year by not having more women in IT, as well as predictably needing to produce 87,000 new engineers each year over the next decade (according to Engineering UK).
There’s now been calls for more women to take STEM subjects, as well to pursue such line of work upon completion of education. Dawn Bonfield, Executive Vice President of Women’s Engineering Society (WES), said: “Only about half (51%) of female STEM graduates actually go on to work in STEM roles, compared with over two thirds (68%) of male STEM graduates.”
With such a lack of skilled recruits, employers need to be exceptionally ‘picky’ when choosing which recruitment agency to work with. It has perhaps never been more important for recruiters to fully understand their clients’ sectors and at Rethink; our consultants come from specialised recruitment backgrounds, providing the insight and expertise that comes with years of industry experience.