Has the national health crisis sped up existing business and recruitment trends? | TheTalentPeople

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Has the national health crisis sped up existing business and recruitment trends?

The recent national health crisis has placed employment and training in many industries, into a fluid and uncertain state. External factors have forced UK organisations to adapt and as a result, three core changes have emerged:

  1. A reorganisation and championing of key national job roles
  2. Adaptations in education, training and recruiting practices on both sides of the conversation
  3. A shift towards more remote and digital working

With timescale on isolation unclear, but a significant change to social interactions set to last for the foreseeable future, it’s hard to see when the situation might stabilise itself. Organisations and individuals are changing their approach to cater for the new landscape, but a question surfaces during this time – has this been a long time coming?

More specifically, has the current crisis simply hit ‘fast forward’ on already changing recruitment and employment trends?

If this is the case, we should all be asking, what are our options for fully accepting and integrating these changes?

A reorganisation and championing of key national job roles
The last 10 years have seen considerable change in the jobs that individuals are doing and the way they are doing them. For the most part, a new skill learnt is expected to last the average person only 5 years before gradually becoming redundant (Deloitte, 2017) . Compare this to 15-30 years in the early 20th century. The continued rise of the digital marketplace, in line with consumer demands, has exacerbated a significant shift on the high street. The changing pattern of consumer behaviour has a significant impact on companies, and people. The recent decline of significant brands such as Primark, Laura Ashley and Carluccio (Guardian, 2020) is one perspective on this. The other is the linked decline in retail jobs roles. One of the largest apprenticeship sectors a few years ago, retail apprenticeship programmes are now almost non-existent as an entry into the workplace. Other roles, particularly those in the health and social care industry, have seen their fair share of struggles too; the management of cost pressures vs growth in demand for services is a structural issue that has not been resolved.

Returning to the present, mid-isolation, the same is still true (although a lot worse). Whether through choice, policing or habit, all of the above continues, yet to a far stronger degree. Other industries have joined the flurry, with hospitality and catering nose-diving in light of hotel, pub, restaurant and café closures and the sports/leisure industry suffering equally. These areas are said to be expecting a surge post-COVID-19 but are currently party to the changes. Other firms are taking their offering online to remain competitive. Some are simply expanding to cope with demand – supermarkets, supply chain and logistics to name a few, all of which have seen considerable growth in the last 20 years already.

Adaptations in education, training and recruiting practices on both sides of the conversation
Education has seen sustained integration with the digital medium for over 50 years now. Where books and pens were more prevalent, and lessons and lectures were either attended or not, the present is quite different. Online portals contain a plethora of teaching and learning material now and offer tuition when required by the candidate. Although the classroom is far from redundant for students and apprentices, it certainly isn’t what it used to be.

Again, the rise of Coronavirus has forced the education and training sectors to look at their offering differently. Almost overnight, lessons and lectures were moved online and even more teaching and learning content made available through the internet. The transition hasn’t been completely successful, with exams and student learning seeing disconnect with functionality and effectiveness, but the effort to integrate as much as possible has been incredible.

Quality management in this new arena is, of course, pretty much untested. Every school, college and university in the country are using delivery and assessment techniques that are untested at scale by the likes of Ofsted.

Many would argue that education has already been far too exposed to market pressures; availability or lack of funding for government-sponsored programmes too often determines volumes of learners. In the current environment, that is even more too. With full time or ‘grant’ provision subject to one set of rules, apprenticeships another, and European Social Funding yet another. Many training providers are battling hard to keep apprentices working towards their qualifications whilst dealing with the fall-out of redundancies, furlough and the inability to recruit the next cohort of learners. According to the ISE, most firms are keen to maintain their learning and development programmes for entry-level hires. 37% of non-graduate employers and 40% of graduate employers are now moving their programmes online. Others are delaying learning and development provision for now.

A shift towards more remote and digital working
It’s no secret that more people than ever have access to the internet now and the majority of those do so via mobile devices. The innovation of technology had resulted is an increase in flexible working potential. Many people had already taken advantage of this potential before the Coronavirus pandemic. Wireless technology means people can operate from just about anywhere and a web of WiFi across the nation meant that upon Boris Johnson’s request for every household and non-key worker to stay at home if possible, most could. According to the ISE’s recent research 95% of employed respondents are moving meetings online, 92% moving to homeworking and 85% reducing travel. (ISE, 2020)

How are organisations reacting?
The current situation has done much to force employers into three general categories. At one end of the spectrum, there are those businesses that have been closed temporarily by the government or have been badly affected and forced to close as a result of mass isolation. These organisations are most likely seeking help in maintaining employment and training for their staff and taking advantage of recent government schemes where possible.

The middle of the spectrum represents those organisations who potentially still offer useful services and products or are adapting to meet other demands, but who haven’t yet been able to place themselves in a position of strength.

The other end of the spectrum is for organisations who have surplus demand currently. This is best represented by those in FMCG markets, supply chain, logistics and most areas of health and social care, who are having to cater for considerably more business now.

This generally means a reduction in entry-level hires across the board. Around a quarter of organisations (27%) say that they will be recruiting less graduates, 23% less apprentices and school leavers and 31% less interns and placement students says the ISE. These numbers could be classed as reserved, having seen LinkedIn’s recent 39% year on year reduction in hiring figure, across their 28million+ users

Media Agencies fit firmly within the middle of the spectrum mentioned above. Unfortunately, at the mercy of the Employers who are deciding on how best to proceed, many Media Agencies must pause efforts until Employers look to move forward. Of course, any involved with the industries also mentioned above, or roles in teaching, engineering or technology might also be seeing success. Virgin Media, GSK and Google (to name a few) have all recently began working with us here at TheTalentPeople to fulfil demand.

Training Providers and Colleges have responsibility for continuing tuition and training as best they can and more than ever are experiencing the gap in funding that puts pressure on the effectiveness of the services to candidates they provide. Training Providers, unlike colleges, however, strongly rely on the intake of candidates to Employer roles for both training to continue and also for income. Reduction in the Employer intake and cancellation of some programmes has increased this pressure more than ever before. Some key Training Providers have started to suffer as a result, particularly those in niche candidate markets.

How are candidates reacting?
The positive news is that our recent candidate survey identified that 90.7% candidates are still looking for work, even if they aren’t completely sure what the best route to communicating with Employers is. When asked to choose multiple reasons as to how the current health situation has changed the way they will look for opportunities, they selected the following:

  • 50% aren’t sure where to look to find the roles they want
  • 22% can’t find the role they were originally looking for
  • 13% of candidates are changing their preferences already to include a job with a little more digital functionality.
  • 37% of candidates are considering waiting for Corona to pass before looking for roles again.

Interestingly, over half of candidates think Employers could do more to help them in light of the current circumstances. The main ways in which they felt this should happen were:

  • Improved communication on the current landscape and available opportunities
  • Utilise more video communication functionality
  • Create more digitally adapted roles
  • Hire and defer start dates

The reduction in Employer recruitment is directly affecting the recruitment flow, but it is not clear how long the downturn will last or whether increases in some areas of recruitment will balance this out. This fluid state is, however, impacting candidates in more than one way. 65.4% of them admitted to feelings of anxiety towards the current hiring landscape and more than anything, candidates have asked just to be kept up to date with industry news and future available opportunities.

So what happens next?
It’s simple! Whether we like it or not – or think we can or cannot, it’s important to be planning for the future. The timelines on the current pandemic are uncertain, but the victorious firms who rise from the ashes of the Corona Health crisis will be those who remained visible, engaged and supportive of their workforce; present and future. The new landscape will require a new way of working with most industries never returning to the way things were. These challenges will require new talent to navigate.

What tools are available to help adapt the search for talent in the current system?
Whether looking to promote vacancies and attract candidates now or not, building a talent pipeline is a must for any organisation. This will ensure the first pick of talent, particularly in a post-COVID-19 landscape where industry demand will rise. The key to this is consistent contact with candidates to build conversations, trust and as a result, interest.

We created a number of solutions that also allowed businesses to create these conversations and for you to hire the right candidate, for the right role, every time.

TalentPortal is our talent management platform, allowing professionals to search our candidate database pro-actively, via the detailed criteria collected, so that they only look for the individuals they need. Additionally, they can post vacancies across all of our award-winning sites and partner platforms, and manage applications end-to-end from attraction to engagement, interviewing and hire. We’ve recently added video interviewing functionality to our already integrated SMS and email communication tools for a complete mobile-working experience.

Managed Service Recruitment takes the stress away from your team by providing a completely outsourced recruitment. We use our incredibly experienced recruiters in line with our TalentPortal system and engaged candidate database to provide you with all the candidates you need. This gives you the resources to focus on what else your business needs.

Media Services are available for those organisations who want to build awareness and open conversations with candidates regarding their opportunities. With a selection of communication channels, access to our engaged databased and in-depth reporting, you can be sure you’re measuring success and only communicating with the candidates you need.

Virtual Events bring a new set of tools to the candidate attraction and engagement conversation. Together with our partner Class Careers, we can take your candidate campaigns completely virtual, offering valuable face to face relationship generation across all education groups and to other organisations too.

We here at TheTalentPeople have been responsible for connecting candidates with businesses for 7 years now and are funded by Nesta Investments to provide careers information and guidance to young individuals, primarily between the ages of 16-24. The result is a database of over 500,000 candidates engaging with our GetMyFirstJob and GetMyGradJob websites, making us the largest engaged talent dataset in the UK. Our collected data expands to include information such as education, experience, age, location and even whether the candidate has a driving license or not.

Institute of Student Employers. (2020). COVID-19: Challenges for student recruitment and
development. London: Institute of Student Employers.