Top Recruitment Sectors for Growth in 2017

It’s here again, our popular annual blog that looks into the future and predicts the recruitment sectors that are geared for high growth in 2017.

2016 has seen some dramatic changes in the World. The UK voting for Brexit and the US voting for Donald Trump have seen a huge shift towards populist voting and a rejection of the establishment and globalisation. With general election in France, Netherlands and Germany in 2017 its difficult to predict what the future will hold.

So against this background this years predictions have been particularly fraught with challenge and some might even say they are courageous.

UK and Global Economic Dynamics

In making our predictions this year we believe it is important to state how we see the UK and World economies behaving as this will temper any forecasts.

As I write this blog the UK is projecting 2.2-2.4% growth in 2016, which is pretty much what was being projected last year. In fact this weeks Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for the services sector is very robust and there is every likelihood that the UK will top the economic growth league amongst the G7 countries.

No small feat for an economy that everyone was writing off after Brexit.

After a fourth consecutive month of growth most importantly for the Recruitment Sector Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit states:

“Employment is rising at one of the fastest rates seen over the past five years. Employers’ appetite to hire is being whetted by a further accumulation of unfinished work. Backlogs of uncompleted orders showed the largest rise for five-and-a-half years.”

Next year we remain optimistic and expect the UK economy to grow at 1.6-2.0%. Even as we go to press on our blog the economic picture is changing. Only recently the Bank of England upgraded its forecast for the UK to 1.4% and we have still to factor in the “Trump-effect”. Commentators are mixed on this but given his personal heritage with a Scottish mother and significant business interests in the UK we are optimistic that on balance “Trump” will be good for UK economic prospects in the short to medium term if not the world in general.

The final dynamic we believe will impact our world in 2017 is the recent agreement by OPEC and Non-OPEC countries to limit oil production in 2017 and beyond. This has already seen oil prices rise. The UK is an oil producing country and as such this should overall have a positive effect on our economy.

As we look into the next decade the picture is less clear. Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Robotics (Bots) are set to change the world of employment and by definition the world of recruitment beyond all recognition

It has been described as the “disruptive tidal wave of technology” and you might wish to read our full forecast to help you decide if you are going to be a winner or loser.

 

Top five Sectors for high growth in 2017

 

No. 5 Accounting & Finance

In any economic downturn the demand for accountants and company financial experts rises. That’s my experience and whilst I doubt we will have a recession in 2017, there is no doubt going to be some economic challenges and a shift in corporate dynamics in the next few years to the end of the decade.

Brexit will require large numbers of businesses to make changes to their business and accounting practices. There will be further examination of cost and profit models that businesses operate. This is against the backdrop of rising long term demand for accountants which is caused by the large numbers of baby-boomer accountants retiring from business and more especially in the public sector where there is a small crisis developing.

Finally the other market factor, which is fuelling the rising demand for corporate IPO and finance experts, is caused by the attractiveness of UK businesses to foreign investment. The 15% reduction in the value of the pound post Brexit has suddenly seen a rise in foreign interest in UK companies. The number of mergers and acquisitions are set to rise in 2017 and this will fuel the demand for individuals with corporate finance expertise in this arena.

Ultra Niche Hot Spot predictions

M&A Specialists, Project Managers (Accounting skill-sets), Commercial Accountants, Project/Systems Accountants

 

No. 4 Oil, Gas and Energy

This sector has seen a downturn in the previous years projections but with the UK Government endorsement of the Hinkley Point C and Wylva Nuclear Power Stations projects plus the OPEC agreement with Non-OPEC countries to limit production also seeing an oil price rise there is a renewed confidence in many parts of the industry. The magic number is $70 a barrel above which the major oil exploration companies feel confident to speculate on developing potential fields.

In 2017 we expect the $70 a barrel level to be achieved but even before that we are already seeing some RFIs and tenders coming out by firms speculating on an up turn and looking to take advantage of the excess capacity in the industry and hopefully achieve some good sub-contract rates. With this in mind this we believe there will be a healthy rise in demand for people in this sector during Q3 and Q4 2017.

The significantly ageing workforce in Nuclear is likely to create a major skill-shortage here. Currently whilst demand for staff is high the large MSP contract providers that dominate this market are operating at margins that are almost unsustainable for SME agencies, especially when you factor in the cost of finance. It will be fascinating to see what will give first but as the public sector (education and NHS) have found you can’t buck the market for ever. This market seems ripe for niche recruiters to exploit these large skills gaps but we will have to see if this happens.

Our guess is that towards the end of 2017 we will see the dam burst and rates and margins rise as the fight for critical staff breaks out into all out war in some niche sectors.

 

Ultra Niche Hot Spot predictions

System Design Engineers, (Nuclear and Oil & Gas) Mechanical Design Engineers (Nuclear and Oil & Gas), Electrical Design Engineers (Nuclear and Oil & Gas), Project Managers (Nuclear and Oil & Gas) Systems Control Engineers (Nuclear and Oil & Gas).

 

No. 3 Construction

In 2016 we predicted this sector to rise and many recruitment businesses have seen solid growth this year but sadly not the levels we had all wished for. As we indicated the politics of releasing funds and capital flows to enable the huge growth in house building did not happen.

Sadly we do not see the seismic shift that is required in the financial markets to affect the large growth in private sector house building that is still required without a government policy shift.

Yes the government has committed £5 billion to boost the housing building but there is also the market factor that a huge growth in property completions will see prices stabilise if not fall and turkeys as they say don’t vote for Christmas and property developers and builders don’t vote for price falls either. The signs are encouraging in that there has been a growth in domestic building in Q3 but nowhere near the levels the government needs in order to achieve its target of 200,000 new builds a year..

The sectors skills gaps are well documented. In fact there is a fear that BREXIT will lead to thousands of EU nationals who have been plugging those gaps returning to mainland Europe leaving us under-resourced. It was reported in the Telegraph earlier this year that “Tony Pidgley, the chairman of house builder Berkeley homes has spoken out, warning of Brexit’s impact on construction workers, and pointed out that 50pc of his subcontractors are from Eastern Europe.”

This represents 23pc of workers in London. The article also claims that the construction sector needs to attract 500,000 new recruits in the next five years to plug the skill gap. Failure to achieve this will see house building drop from the 140,000 a year we are currently achieving to 100,000 a year and certainly nowhere the 200,000 a year the government wish to secure.

So agencies if you have the workers and can retain them then you should be able to make good margins in 2017-18

The significant number of infrastructure projects that the government has committed to since BREXIT (including New runway Heathrow, HS2 Phase Two) which were reinforced in the 2016 Autumn Statement, only goes to increase the demand for skills and ensures this will be a healthy sector in 2017.

Inequalities between agencies

What we are seeing however is that agencies that work with traditional generalist operating models (which are not worker centric) are not making the most of these growth opportunities. They are at best achieving 5-10% p.a. growth rates and in some cases less than that, whilst those with modern, ultra-niche models that put the focus on worker relationships are achieving 200-300% growth rates.

Perhaps now is the time to review your models and make that switch to being a Niche Recruiter. This blog might help Niche Vs. Generalist

Ultra Niche Hot Spot predictions

Scaffolders, Ground-Workers, 360 Drivers, Site Managers, Quantity Surveyors also traditional trades.

 

No 2 Engineering

The top two performing sectors are so consistently above the rest that it is hard to choose which represents the greatest growth opportunity. On balance we believe Engineering is in second place slightly behind IT and Technology.

The skills gaps in the engineering sector are massive and well documented. An ageing workforce of baby-boomers leaving between now and 2025 is creating a huge pressure on skills, which with the lack of STEM graduates over the past 10-15 years means the talent pool to replace them is woefully small and undersized.

To help you understand the scale of the problem research suggests that 182,000 additional workers are needed to plug engineering-focused graduate and apprentice positions every year until 2022. This is according to Engineering UK.

That’s over 1m more engineers.

According to Engineering UKCurrently the UK produces only 46,000 engineering graduates each year. There will also be demand for around 69,000 people qualified at advanced apprenticeship or equivalent level each year. Yet only around 27,000 UK apprentices a year currently qualify at the appropriate level.

Yes the numbers studying are growing and salaries are rising but the solution is that in the short term to plug this gap we will continue to import engineers from the rest of the world.

So are we surprised that one of the UK’s most famous engineers, Sir James Dyson, is looking to secure his own future talent pipeline by investing £15m over the next five years to secure his need to double his workforce to 6,000 by 2020 in his new Dyson Institute of Technology.

Ultra Niche Hot Spot predictions

Controls Engineers, ICS/DCS Engineers, HRSG Engineers, Turbine Engineers, Power Commissioning Engineer, HVAC Systems Engineers, Plant Layout Engineers, Civil Project Engineers (Nuclear, Rail), Automotive design Engineers, Signalling Engineers, PLC and Automation Engineers, PowerTrain Engineers.

 

No 1. IT and Technology

This sector has consistently been our number one for three out of the last four years. Our reason for this is simple.

IT and Technology faces all the demographic issues and supply and demand factors that the other sectors are grappling with.

Yes IT and Technology has an ageing workforce, Yes, the insatiable thirst for experts is never ceasing but the greatest impact is the rate of technological change and advance plus the globalisation of demand.

This is not a UK problem or a Western World or US problem it is a global wide problem.

In most markets many executives and business owners have not comprehended the scale or rate of advancement of technology change and how it could make their multi-million pound businesses obsolete overnight!

You have only to look at how disruptive business models that use technology or businesses that fail to keep up can fall from a market leading position to relative obscurity in 3-5 years to understand what is at stake.

Look at Novell Networks, in 1996 they were the provider of the worlds largest networking software by 2000 Windows NT had taken over their market position and Nokia have failed to recapture that since.

Between 1995-2000 Nokia were the worlds largest supplier of mobile phones today where are they ranked? According to WhatTechSays they don’t even make the top 10.

What about Blackberry? 2000-2005 everyone wanted one where are they today?

What about Amazon? Uber? Google? AirBnB? Spotify? Netflix? All of which are the disruptive models of today and considered by many to be “Rising Stars” or even “Cash Cows” if you apply the Boston Matrix.

But where will they be tomorrow?

Who is next to fall from grace?

So we can see how important technology is.

Take Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and robotics. The total effect of these three advances alone is predicted to transform the world of work in the next 5-10 years. Many jobs that rely on the processing of data and simple decision-making are set to become redundant. At the same time the growth in demand for the technologists that will enable this change is set to explode over the next 2-3 years.

In the US the prediction is 6% of all jobs will go. “By 2021 a disruptive tidal wave will begin. Solutions powered by AI/cognitive technology will displace jobs, with the biggest impact felt in transportation, logistics and consumer services,” said Forrester’s Brian Hopkins in a recent US Government report on the issue.

Business Intelligence is already a high growth niche and Data Science is rapidly catching up. The growth in demand for cloud architects and engineers, who will design the infrastructure as a service (IAS) and platform as a service (PAS), are tipped to accelerate rapidly, as is the demand for the developers who will develop the applications. Algorithm experts that support rule based AI is a key skill that is being included in many job specs and you can expect this to grow exponentially over the next 3-5 years.

If you are in IT and Technology recruitment there is a massive opportunity for rapid growth over the next 3-10 years. A terrific MUST READ article is Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017. It not only discusses 2017 trends but the likely longer-term developments.

If you are considering IT and Technology as sector to move into or making further planned growth then this is invaluable source of data and foresight.

As our world is set to be transformed, the jury is still out as to whether there will be a net increase in jobs or a reduction. The scaremongers seem keen to spread fear but are they right? Perhaps if it helps people wake up to the change in reality but history tells us otherwise.

We have been here before in the 19th century before the industrial revolution.

In the Pre-Victorian era, millions of people worked in agriculture. Automation arrived and allowed people to move off the land and into cities heralding in a whole new generation of jobs being created in offices,factories, businesses and retail as the factories made a new range of goods, jobs were created constructing buildings and infrastructure as well as roles in merchandising and the selling the goods that were manufactured.

In the 1960s and 70s we were told that the ‘microprocessor’ and computers was going to make thousands of jobs redundant. In 1982 as a young undergraduate working for ICI Plc. in Runcorn I built a prototype freight forwarding pricing system. The concept was proven and implemented by ICI in 1984 and 100-150 booking clerk jobs were made redundant. In the 1980s this happened in thousands of companies across Britain. Yes those roles were lost forever but thousands of others were created employment in the UK today is nearly 8m higher than in 1985 and the percentage of people of working age in employment at its highest at 75% of the working population.

We are about to enter another period of dynamic change and there are going to be huge winners and losers.

For recruiters there is one key question you should all be looking to answer.

Is this change going to see the jobs in my niche or sector become obsolete by this “disruptive tidal wave of technology” or am I serving an area of growth.

If you are servicing logistics, manufacturing, call centre staff, clerical assistants and distribution workers (drivers) then the answer is likely to be YES.

If your niche is in Product design, Engineering or IT and Technology then you are likely to answer NO but then again within all these sectors there will be some jobs that will disappear and other jobs that are created.

It is hard to identify all the winners and losers in this sector but you might find this article from Robert Half on the Top Ten Technology Jobs for 2017 helpful. Equally this article from earlier this year in the CIO Magazine on 10 Hot IT Job Skills for 2016 may give you a few more pointers.

One thing is sure 2017 is the year to review your market and make changes if necessary.

Ultra Niche Hot Spot predictions

UI/UX Developers & Designers, Business Intelligence Experts, Security/CyberSecurity Experts, Cloud Architects and Integration Experts, Data Scientists, Mobile App Developers, Full Stack Web and Product developers.

 

So these are our predictions for 2017. They are are based upon our hands on experience of working with 30-35 recruitment agencies across all sectors in the past 12 months. With all of them growing at annual rates of over 30%+ per year-on-year and some 200-300%, we believe we are well placed to know he best sectors to work in.

In the short term we still see healthy times ahead for the UK Recruitment Market but as we implied beyond 2022 with Brexit and the advance of technology the future becoming less clear.

You may have a difference of opinion and have experiences, which are not so positive so please contact me, [email protected] and let us know or share your thoughts.

We’d love to hear them.

Six Revolutions that changed Recruitment. What is next?

 

“Those who are unaware of history are destined to repeat it.”

When I started in the IT recruitment industry back in the early 1980’s, for a company called Myriad Appointments, it was a very different world. Before you could get a ‘job-on’ you had to sell the concept of using an agency to clients rather than them doing it for themselves.

All communication was via the phone or post. Finding and sourcing good candidates was key and running client branded advertising was the best way to attract them. This was how I made my money, selling multiple campaigns to Clerical Medical, British Aerospace, GEC, Plessey, Imperial Tobacco and many more. Happy days!

Over a coffee the other week I was asked by some young delegates on the course I was running ‘What have been the biggest changes in recruitment’. After a 30-minute discussion it occurred that this perspective might be useful to others.

So in chronological order:

OldFaxMachineMid 1980s – The Facsimile Machine: Machines to transmit messages had been around in the form of ‘telex’ and ‘telegram’ machines for years but the ability to photocopy a candidates CV or resume and send it to a client rather than sending it ‘snail mail’, changed how we in the industry sold our candidates and contractors.

It created urgency, and the ability to close clients with more immediacy. It changed how we canvassed, arranged interviews and confirmed interviews. It also changed how IT contractors were placed too.

Naturally as sales people we saw the advantages of a fax machine immediately and tried to convince our MD it would change our business forever and we’d sell more candidates. We did initially but like all good process changes our competitors caught up quickly.

Old MobileEnd 1980s-91 Mobile Phones – Again these had been around for years and I received my first mobile back in 1989 when I began establishing a new office in the North of England. It was a second hand one with the phone the size of a brick and a battery pack the size of four tins of baked beans. For others the big revolution came in the early 1990s with (2G) technology.

It gave us as consultants better access to candidates and clients especially during the day so interviews could be arranged during office hours rather than in the evenings or via cryptic calls to their work numbers.

We also could be contacted away from the office rather than using telephone boxes. Once again it increased speed of communication and theoretically made us more efficient. Like the fax machine the competitive advantage disappeared.

220px-IBM_PC_51501990 Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) – These came in around the end of the 1980s but really in earnest in the early 90s. IBMs Talent was one I used. They didn’t really change how we canvassed clients but enabled us to find and source candidates much quicker. We could do ‘key word’ searches on CVs and find people faster. ‘Buzzword’ Matching entered our jargon. Candidates and recruitment consultants alike filled their CVs with ‘Buzzwords’.

Candidates sadly learnt the hard way that ‘Not Interested in jobs in Bristol’ on a CV or covering letter resulted in hundreds of calls about ‘jobs in Bristol’.

Clients discovered through their own experience that just because an interviewees had ‘COBOL, CICS and DB2’ on their CV 15 times didn’t make them good at the role.

Sadly recruitment consultants buzzword matching and just sending anyone, became a common place. Prior to this as agents we could do this but we had to read the CV in the first place and work harder to find people so they tended to submit only the best. Measuring KPIs started to come in aggressively to counter act this.

These tools enabled uneducated agencies to ‘blitz’ their clients like a second world war AK-AK Gun with any CV that looked remotely like the spec.

Once again over time as everyone acquired these systems the advantage you had sourcing candidates disappeared though interestingly enough I still see companies with better ATS systems than others retaining that advantage.

emai mark1993 Electronic Mail – Again like the Fax machine before it this was seen as a way of revolutionizing the industry. The appearance of the CVs the client received was better. We could log and trace what we’d sent. Theoretically they weren’t lost. We could also prove we sent our CV before the other agencies and therefore claim the fee in disputes. All great stuff and once again we promised our directors we’d generate more fees when we had one and as early adopters we did but only whilst the advantage lasted.

When email was connected to an agencies ATS system the indiscriminate emailing of CVs became a reality on a scale clients could not imagine. SPAM arrived in the client’s inbox in bucket loads. Quantity replaced quality as some clients desperate to find certain skills rewarded these indiscriminate agents with fees. So they continued to do it despite the protests of the majority of customers.

0_271_406_http---offlinehbpl.hbpl.co.uk-news-OWN-BB088D66-C6A1-C3F8-555F043B4670CA791994 Deregulation and Contracting Out Act – Prior to this date there were barriers to entry into the recruitment industry. You had to demonstrate you were a fit and proper person, apply and be granted a licence, which took some days if not weeks. You were inspected by HMI regularly and there were supposedly rigorous controls. The Conservative Government abolished licences and except for the occasional court cases recruitment agencies were relatively unregulated.

Some may say this was not a good thing but it massively improved our economies ability to recycle unemployed workers.

My three to fours working in mainland Europe at the turn of the millennium taught me that and to this day the relatively deregulated UK Recruitment Industry is one of the primary reasons why our percentage unemployment levels are much lower than our European neighbours. Naturally Social Security Benefit levels provide the ‘stick’ to encourage people to accept work that is offered but that’s another debate.

with no barriers to entry agencies could set themselves up quickly. With our ATS’s we could identify candidates and with email secure an up to date CV and send it to a client rapidly. Mobile phones meant candidates and clients were accessible quicker. These were the boom years and recruitment became a major industry. Agencies sprung up everywhere and for every niche imaginable.

UnknownLate 1990’s Websites and 1999 Job boards – Tim Berners-Lee’s Internet Revolution of the 90s created the need for businesses to have their own presence on the web, ‘websites’ were born. It was seen as the future and the ‘Dotcom Boom’ came along bringing with it all sorts of businesses.

The answer to every recruiter’s prayers was ‘the job board’, Monster, Stepstone and Jobserve, all arrived and quickly captured the imagination of candidates and agents alike and took hold. Recruitment in the off-line press started to decline.

In 2000 a VNU Computing sales director told me Job Boards were not here to stay and they had no intention of entering the market. (I think his Dad rejected the Beatles as an average bunch of boys from Liverpool!)

Now all lazy recruitment agents had to do was find a job, post it on Jobserve, go home, come back in the morning and with the minimal of CV sifts, email the resulting response to their clients! More SPAM.

Until the recession of 2008 the average recruitment consultant lost the ability to ‘sell’ a complaint most recruitment directors I meet lament.

Whilst none of us wish to return to the ‘old days’ it did demand certain basic intercommunication skills be learnt in order for consultants to succeed.

Each of these changes has affected the industry we are all apart of. All revolutionised what we do and how we do it and few would dispute their impact.

In all cases the early adopters gained a competitive advantage and in some cases have gone on to be hugely successful, whilst those that were slow to adapt in most cases no longer exist. There is a lesson in there.

So what next?

For me there is another revolution happening today which is changing the face of recruitment forever.

what is social recruiting12013 Social Recruiting: Social Media is transforming the way we interact in our society today and with job board traffic in the main declining, most major off-line titles struggling, ‘Social Sourcing’ (the sourcing of candidates via social media) is going to be the key as we enter the impending Talent War. (For more info read this blog: Can You win the Global Talent War)

This is not the crude broadcast of your jobs continuously as though it was a revolving job board but the sharing of useful and engaging content that encourages prospective candidates to contact and engage with your business. Whilst this should be easy for the niche suppliers, I currently see no niche agency doing it successfully but would be delighted to be corrected.

Costa Coffee does it successfully with their clients and even steals from the competition. One of my contacts recently visited Starbucks in Liverpool on his way to work to buy his team teas and coffees and on discovering they had run out of tea tweeted it. Within 30 seconds of his tweet Costa Coffee responded that if he visited their store in Liverpool One they’d give him a tea for free. He did and guess where he now goes every morning for his beverages! Interestingly last I heard Starbuck never even responded to his tweet!

Many other leading brands do this too; Virgin; Pepsi, Network Rail just to name a few.

Do you think tomorrow we could see Adecco, for example, responding to an irate candidate’s tweet after attending an interview organised by another agency, for which they were badly matched. May be but I think not?

In the five sectors I highlighted recently in my blog (Top five recruitment sectors to be in for next 5-10 years) where the candidate is soon to be king, it will happen soon. Think about it a Subsea Engineer in oil and gas or a frustrated Nurse in healthcare tweeting their frustration would be very impressed if a competitor agent responded with another job almost immediately.

Let me know if you do it, I promise to write a follow up blog but only if you are happy for me to.

As I mentioned in my other blog Recruitment Agency MDs – Will you Adapt or Fail? Millennials (Generation-Y) totally live and communicate it this social media world. So if you wish to attract them in the future you need to learn to ‘social-source’.

Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 16.09.37The other dimension of ‘social-sourcing’, which again most business have not woken up to, is that most of this activity takes place on mobile platforms. At Recruitment Expo this year Mike Taylor of Web-Based-Recruitment.com gave some interesting facts:

  • 75% of all mobile traffic is to Facebook
  • Amongst Millennials Twitter is overtaking Facebook as the preferred medium of communication
  • 8 out of 10 phones now sold in the UK are smartphones so it should be no surprise to Recruiters that so many job seekers are now expecting to be able to search and apply for a job using a mobile device.
  • According to Google, 1 in 5 of all job searches are carried out on a mobile device (source: 2012 Mobile Recruitment Conference)
  • Some of the leading UK job boards are now seeing 30% of their traffic come from a mobile device

The Mobile Recruiting Outlook Report issued by Simply Hired in January 2013 showed that:

  • 70% of job seekers had used mobile technology to look for a job.
  • 86% of job seekers would use mobile technology if there was an easy way to apply for a job.

However, the recent iMomentous Fortune 500 Mobile Readiness Report, showed that:

  • Only 33% of companies had a mobile careers section
  • Only 3% had a mobile apply function

Mikes own research showed that 94% of the FTSE 100 companies had a mobile enabled careers section on their website.

Mike has some more interesting facts which are worth checking out on his website.

So the recruitment industry has been through revolutions many times over the past thirty years. Each time it has changed and every time those that were too slow to adopt the new models disappeared.

By 2020 I predict that our industry will have transformed again and almost certainly several of the household industry names we know will either be no more or greatly reduced in size. ‘Social-Sourcing’ is going to be critical to businesses success yet so many don’t even have a Social media Strategy

It may seem incredible today but back in 1998 there were many agencies claiming they did not need a website. Only last year Morrison’s Supermarket saw its Christmas sales decline because they had no on-line shopping site.

As George Santayana says:

“Those who are unaware of history are destined to repeat it.”

My question is ‘Are you?’

Recruitment Agency MDs – Will you Adapt or Fail?

 

 

 

Was anyone apart from the board of directors of HMV or Blockbuster surprised when their businesses went into liquidation? I know I wasn’t and most people I have spoken too weren’t either.

After all technology changed the way their customers could purchase their products and both HMV and Blockbuster were slow to adapt their business models. When you can buy your music and video choices on-line why would we go to a shop unless they added value.

The same is true in the World of Recruitment. With technology increasingly making the sourcing of mainstream talent and resource easier, employers will not use agencies in the future unless they can supply their ‘product’ with an added value. Only where acute skill-shortages exists may agencies still have a role but only if they can source the best talent.

 

The burning question is with their existing business models will they be able to?

 

7788113_sIn my recent blog Third World War begins now I discussed how the scale of the ‘War on Talent’ is about to accelerate dramatically. I questioned whether recruitment agencies would be allies of corporate businesses or mercenaries but the choice agencies face is far starker than that.

 

What is at stake is their very survival.

 

The traditional recruitment agency’s business model has been set up around attracting candidates; contractors and temporary workers who predominantly come from the ‘baby-boomer’ (born pre 1964) and ‘generation-X’ (b1965-1981) age groups. Only now are they starting to engage the ‘Millennial Generation’ (also known as Gen-Y born after 1982 and started work since the millennium).

 

A lot has been written about this generation and if you have not read it you need to quick.

 

Millennials have very different expectations and attitudes to work and so they will increasingly make different demands in the way they engage with agencies and employers. In a future world with acute skill shortages, highly educated young talent will progressively become harder to find.  Sourcing these millennial candidates is therefore a must if any recruitment agency is to thrive.

 

In my Third World War Begins now blog many of you will remember that in the next two years ‘Millennials’ are set to become the dominant generation in the work place. This is going to come as a shock for many ‘Baby-boomers’ who as a generation, have dominated the workplace for over thirty years.

 

It’s a timely reminder in the week that she passed away that Margaret Thatcher’s reign _66808649_66808648coincided with the ‘baby-boomers arrival as the dominant generation in the UK workplace. It was a period of huge change in the UK and US both within work and society.

 

New management practices came in and the old large monolithic business hierarchy’s dismantled. The Baby-boomers readily embraced IT into mainstream corporate life which saw swathes of administrative and clerical functions computerised and abolished. They embraced the free market economy and entrepreneurial spirit, which the US & UK governments were so keen to unleash at that time.  Whether one was a product of the other is debateable but the ‘Young and upwardly mobile’ Yuppies certainly exploited the opportunity that in the UK, the Thatcher government created.

 

Similarly todays ‘Millennials’ are poised to have a major impact on the post 2015 world.

 

So what are the key areas that make ‘Millennials’ different?

 

Meaningful Engagement – Most research indicates that the millennial generation are unwilling to perform dry boring work. Kevin Sheridan, the Senior VP of Avatar HR Solutions (an organization that specializes in employee engagement and talent management.) recently told SHRM On-line.

 

“In a gargantuan difference between Baby Boomers and Gen Y, the latter set their career as one element within their life, not the single element that makes their life. Gen Y wants their job to provide personal fulfillment and support a positive work/life balance.”

 

Clearly the work they do has to have a value and meaning. As recruiters we will find it increasingly difficult to find young people to undertake boring, repetitive and tedious roles and certainly not doing over 45 hour shifts. Recruiters might need to think differently how they sell the jobs they are seeking to fill. Millennials will increasingly demand more job information before attending interviews.

 

Fearless and Intolerant – One of the main qualities that sets Millennials out from the rest of us is their fearlessness and intolerance.  If there is something they don’t like they will not suffer in silence. They will not bite the bullet, or get their head down and get on with it.

 

No, they will challenge it and if  unsuccessful they will simply walk.

 

Increasingly the skilled and educated ones will know that they can get another a job. As greater numbers of this generation have travelled the world they already know first-hand that there are many countries where they can get work, Australia, China, Brazil, Russia the Middle East to name just a few.  Employers and agencies seeking to control Millennials with the fear of unemployment will simply find it ineffective.

 

calijody-interior

Flexibility – Millennials demand working environments, which are flexible. They will not work rigid 9-5 days. They will demand the flexibility to complete their tasks when and where it suits them. Employer’s business models will therefore need to reflect this desire including recruitment agencies own models.

 

Already a great many global companies who are aware of this are migrating to operating models where employees are evaluated on performance rather than presence. The ROWE (Results only Work Environments) is one of these such environments. Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson are the Founders of CultureRx and creators of the Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) and their site is worth a read. This model will not work for every industry and there will be a need for some people to work core hours but entire workforces working rigidly will be a thing of the past.

 

Dynamic Environments – Stayed and monotone working environments will not appeal to Millennials they demand change. They also have low attention spans and will rapidly move on if the work isn’t stimulating and challenging. They are not afraid of tough challenges and will strive for ambitious goals. So recruiters when taking briefs you need to check how stimulating the work is otherwise your refund clauses could be used a lot more frequently that you might like. Money is not their primary motivator in making career choices.

 

Recognition and Management – Millennials crave feedback, instant reaction and gratification. They will not wait for annual appraisals they have been brought up on social technology and are accustomed to getting frequent responses. They will not suffer pretentious and insincere fools as managers. ‘Authentic and honest’ superiors whose knowledge they can respect is what they seek. 1970s and 80s autocratic leadership founded on hierarchy and status will not work. If your clients operate this way prepare to find them very difficult to recruit for.

 

Diverse, Fun loving Team Players – Millennials like most of us are fun loving at heart and for them work is not supposed to be an austere place. They will expect to work in multi-cultural and multi-disciplined teams with other workers who have knowledge they can respect and learn from. When attracting candidates your techniques and approaches need to reflect this.

BYOD

Technology Sensitive – If your clients are luddites and do not embrace new technology then Millennials will shun them. Filling jobs where employers shy away from investing in the latest and most efficient technology will see the Millennials leave. BYOD ‘Bring your own Device’ employers are expected to become the norm. Agencies that employ old methods of applicant attraction, which do not embrace the latest technology, will also see themselves lose out too.

 

To this end Social Media is therefore the most effective way to engage them.

 

This is the battleground recruitment agencies are already losing. The Millennials, who seeking ‘meaningful engagement’ are connecting with employers who are already ahead of the curve. Astute and forward thinking corporate HR departments are aware of these demographic and social changes and are reshaping their businesses to accommodate them. They are also learning to leverage their corporate brands to recruit and attract the best talent using In-house/Direct Sourcing team.

 

Like Network Rail, who at the CIPD conference in Manchester this year, outlined how they had used Facebook very successfully to hire virtually their entire 2013 apprentices, businesses are creating and cultivating their own talent pools not by tweeting incessantly that they have vacancies but by placing meaningful and highly relevant and interesting Unknowncontent into a Facebook Group.

 

A move to in-house recruitment at Network Rail has saved the company 85 per cent in hiring expenditure, the CIPD’s annual conference in Manchester has heard.


The reduction in recruitment agency fees has seen costs per hire drop from an average of £3,500 to £500 in five years, said Adrian Thomas, head of resourcing at the rail maintenance firm. The company – which employs 35,000 people – externally hires or internally promotes around 10,000 people a year.


Now, 73 per cent of external recruitment is done through direct resourcing, with only 7 per cent fielded out to agencies, delegates were told.


The majority of candidates were now generated through a revamped careers website, explained Thomas. Other initiatives included a specially designed Facebook forum for the Network Rail apprenticeships scheme, which generated 6,000 applications for the 200 places on offer, he added.


 

Other companies are similarly using YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn to post relevant and domain specific videos, articles, case studies and industry news for their target audiences to feast on. Only once their core following is established do they start to post jobs news into it. Like good farmers they spend hours preparing the soil before planting the seeds.

 

This is nothing that niche agencies in IT, Oil and Gas, Engineering, Biotech or Nursing couldn’t do but they choose not to. It requires patience and investment without immediate returns. Sadly for the agencies however by the time the industry accept the returns are there it may be too late. Agencies will have lost the high ground and the commercial advantages that go with it.

So MD’s will your businesses also go the way of HMV and Blockbuster or do you have the courage to start to change now. As Network Rail demonstrates there are models out there that work.

Globally the number of people under the age of 30 now exceeds 50% of the world’s population.  Somewhere between 2014 and 2015 the Millennials will become the dominant generation in the workplace. The time to change is upon you.

The War for Millennial Talent has begun. The only question is do you have the courage and wisdom to triumph?