Well, it’s probably safe to say that the answer to the question as to whether or not it is a rosy picture for the British economy and employment figures in 2015 depends on which sources you read and the point of view they are writing from. The current government, and its supporters, is very upbeat about the future growth of the number of people in employment and for the growth of businesses (good news for employers?), while other sources highlight the fact that it’s not just about getting people into the workplace and therefore reducing the numbers of those registered unemployed. It’s about the quality of those jobs, the training and the wage levels.
Let’s take a look at some of the views put forward and what that could mean for employers looking to recruit graduates and young people into their companies in 2015 and beyond.
The Optimistic Viewpoint About Britain’s Economic Growth And Job Creation
According to government figures, after the recession, Britain is now experiencing a recovery which means employers have increased optimism and are looking to employ more people into their companies in 2015 and into the future. And this is not just an increase in the number of people in work. Employers are adapting their recruitment strategies and are now looking to recruit more people into full time positions rather than part time jobs and temporary jobs.
In December 2014, Charlie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover and Deal, says that more people who want to work full time are now getting those full time jobs because there are more opportunities out there. There are currently more full time opportunities than part time and wages are set to increase faster in the coming year. And according to this article in The Scotsman, business group, CBI, along with consultancy Accenture ran a survey and its results suggests permanent jobs will outstrip temporary jobs in 2015. As an employer, are you finding this is the case for you? Maybe you are adapting your recruitment strategy and are looking to create more graduate jobs, school leaver programmes or maybe you are designing more apprenticeships to recruit more school leavers.
Minister of State for Employment, Esther McVey also wrote in December 2014 that every single region of the United Kingdom has witnessed a fall in the numbers of people who are unemployed. This suggests there are more openings there for people looking for work and for employers looking to employ young people, students and graduates, sites like E4S can be ideal platforms for recruiting the best staff to fill vacant positions. She states that there are over 80,000 more young people now in jobs and also that the UK now has the lowest unemployment levels since 2008. This definitely sounds like good news for both employers and those looking for work.
Recruitment Strategies – Women and Employment
And figures also suggest that the situation for women in the workplace is looking better than it might have done previously with more women now in employment. Scotland has seen the biggest rise in the number of women in employment with a narrower gender gap in employment than other countries in the United Kingdom. And more women in employment means the economy benefits as a result of this. As for women’s pay, Charlie Elphicke MP says the gender pay gap is now at it’s shorted since records began in 1997.
So, 2015 looks set to be a beneficial year for both employers and for those looking for work and, it seems, particularly beneficial for women and young people who are looking for jobs. But there is another side to this coin, of course. Some sources are challenging these positive government figures and are showing a different story around those statistics and as employers, no doubt you have your own first hand take on these numbers, too.
The Alternative Viewpoint On The UK’s Increase In Jobs And Wages
Opposition parties challenge the government’s figures, as do some employment surveys that have been carried out which survey employers, those already in jobs and also the unemployed.
The position of women in employment
With regards to the number of women in employment, there is still lots of discussion around the standard of that employment and also wages. Although Scotland can boast a big boost in the number of women in employment, for example, and the gender pay gap is said to be decreasing, Jackie Baillie MSP, Scottish Labour Finance, Constitution and Energy Spokeswoman has said that over a quarter of a million women in Scotland are paid less than the living wage (the UK living wage is currently £7.85 per hour. She would like to see a minimum wage in Scotland and also the abolishment of zero hour contracts.
And a lack of women in top jobs is also a longstanding issue, as well as the gender pay gap when men and women are in similar roles. The government have worked hard to encourage employers to promote women into top roles within companies but have, themselves, been criticised. According to this article in The Guardian, the government have set themselves a target of 50-50 employment of men and women within government departments but in December 2014, the percentage of women in Whitehall posts was less than 40% with only five women in a cabinet of 22 MPs; a cabinet that is two thirds male. In particular, the Ministry of Defence only awarded six appointments to women out of a total of 40 opportunities.
The problems facing young people in employment
Naturally, the main focus for E4S is to get young people into jobs such as student jobs, apprenticeships, internships or graduate jobs, for example, so it is good news that employers are starting to employ more young people and get them into the workplace.
However, as with the roles of women in employment, some analysts question the quality of these roles and also the wages paid for jobs for young people (and indeed, issues facing women and young people in employment are not mutually exclusive). According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, more and more young people, especially 16-25 year olds are, living below the breadline as they are often working zero hour contracts or are even self-employed but working for low rates of pay (there are currently around 1.4 million zero hour contracts out there). The Joseph Rowntree Foundation see it as worrying trend that so many working people are still struggling to make ends meet and are not earning a living wage. They see it is a threat to the future growth of the British economy. For 16-25 year olds, they say the poverty rate has risen from 25% to 31.5% a decade later and this has been caused by a low minimum wage and high unemployment.
The skills gap as a threat to future economic growth and competition in Britain
The skills gap is also seen as a problem; perhaps the biggest threat to the the British economy in the long term. For example, in Scotland, construction is on the increase but there is a skills shortage in this sector so it is difficult for employers to fill vacant positions.
Solutions for employers and employees
So what does all this mean for employers in 2015 and beyond? Katja Hall, CBI’s deputy director general says the solution is for companies and the government to work more closely together to increase the skill level in employees and therefore get them into more highly paid jobs to carry firms forward.
Employers can do this by creating government backed apprenticeships and school leaver programmes to boost specialist knowledge and practical skills in young people and also create specialised graduate programmes to attract more university leavers into graduate jobs. As an employer, you may have already tweaked your recruitment strategy to invest in young people and attract more young people into your company in this way. If this is not a recruitment strategy you have considered previously, take a look at how employers can benefit from the implementation of apprenticeships and school leaver programmes to see if you could implement something like this in your company.
Of course, another issue regarding skills shortages is that school leavers, students and graduates need to actually want to do the types of jobs where there is a skills shortage. Perhaps government, employers and education institutions need to work together closely to make careers in those fields not only more visible but also more dynamic and attractive to young people.
Once your company has recruited the ideal candidates for vacant roles, the challenge is then to retain those staff to further progress the company. Even if you do have more permanent, full time positions available throughout 2015, how do you retain the best talent? This can be especially challenging for SMEs and we have written blog posts in the past about the challenges small and medium enterprises face with recruiting and retaining the best talent. This post contains tips for how small and medium sized enterprises can attract and retain the best staff. Because there is also the viewpoint of the employee. Employers need to constantly think of more inventive ways to boost their company’s staff retention levels as more and more employees, these days, are choosing to move between multiple jobs throughout their working life. Attitudes have changed and employees are less fearful about moving jobs as they would have been in the past.
It is often said that the ‘job for life’ is a thing of the past and people will have on average nine different jobs in their working life. Some people even opt for a complete career change or go self-employed. As we mentioned in our blog post about the job for life being a thing of the past, this has repercussions for both the employer and the employee and it’s about working together to make sure both parties can benefit from the situation.
If, as the government have stated, more and more job vacancies are now for permanent positions – and this trend looks set to continue through 2015 – employers will be hoping to keep hold of the talent they have scouted and employed. As vacancies arise, it’s important for employers to recruit the right type of candidates for the roles available because the recruitment process can be both time consuming and, depending on where you advertise your vacancies, expensive, too. In giving yourself the best chances of getting it right first time, the interview process is an important part of the process and there are some essential interview questions you can ask to make sure your candidate and your company are the best for each other.
Part time jobs and temporary holiday jobs for students and young people
And this blog post has focussed mainly on full time, permanent jobs but when it comes to skills shortages and lack of work experience amongst students and young people, there is a role employers can play, too. Student jobs such as part time jobs at evenings and weekends or seasonal work such as Christmas jobs and summer jobs can be highly beneficial for students not just in a financial sense but also in providing and developing transferable skills; preparing them for the workplace.
And what’s in it for you as an employer? Apart from knowing you are investing in youth and playing your part in preparing young people for the workplace, you could also harness the fresh ideas that young people could possibly bring to your company. And if you have the roles available, if you spot a true talent, help that person develop a full time career with your company before someone else snaps them up. Here are some of the other ways your company can benefit by employing students in holiday jobs.
So, the government have lots of initiatives in place to get young people into the workplace and statistics show more jobs and higher wages will be available in 2015. E4S have many employers advertising vacancies on the site and many young people visiting the site each day, looking for work. If you have vacancies in your workplace and would like to employ school leavers, students and graduates, why not place your adverts with E4S? Read more here about working with E4S.