New Government must address skills shortages in first 100 days, says recruitment trade body chief exec

The next Government must address skills shortages in the first 100 days of being elected, the chief executive of the membership body for the UK recruitment industry has said.

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), has urged the incoming Government to put an industrial strategy for recruitment at the forefront of its plans.

He said: “No attempt to drive growth will succeed without the next government addressing people issues within its first 100 days. This must include reform of the Apprenticeship Levy to cover high-quality, modular training, and a long-term cross-departmental strategy to tackle labour and skills shortages.

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“I think step one is getting the Cabinet Office to make sure any industrial strategy adopted by the Government really focuses on the people side.

The new Government must address skills shortages in the first 100 days of being elected, the chief executive of the membership body for the UK recruitment industry has said. Photo: Phillip Toscano/ PAThe new Government must address skills shortages in the first 100 days of being elected, the chief executive of the membership body for the UK recruitment industry has said. Photo: Phillip Toscano/ PA
The new Government must address skills shortages in the first 100 days of being elected, the chief executive of the membership body for the UK recruitment industry has said. Photo: Phillip Toscano/ PA

“We haven't had much of an industrial strategy as regards to people for the last few years, and when we had one back in the Theresa May Government, the people section was really just a list of skills and things that the Government was already doing.

“Really what you need is to think about how you create the environment to support companies, meeting the skills needs that they are developing and looking at supply constraints. I think a proper workforce strategy does all that.”

Mr Carberry’s comments come as new research from REC and accounting firm KPMG shows that the number of permanent job appointments in the North of England has fallen this month, despite the number of available jobs rising for the third month in a row.

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The report also shows that across the UK, permanent staff appointments made by recruitment consultants fell again in May, continuing a trend which began in October 2022. This number, however, fell by its lowest in over a year.

The North of England saw a return to growth for the number of temporary job appointments made during May, while the UK as a whole saw the number of temporary appointments fall, but at a slower rate than previously recorded.

Mr Carberry said the rise in the North of England signified potential positive news for recruitment figures later in the year.

He said: “The numbers show good movement. The way recessions work in the labour market is that companies get a bit cagey and they stop taking temporary staff on, and then the recession hits and they stop hiring permanent staff.

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“But then when things start to pick up, they will start bringing temporary staff on - and then things really pick up and permanent hires start, so the uptick in temporary roles is a signifier of permanent jobs later.

“I think there's a sense of optimism amongst Yorkshire recruiters that we’re through the worst of the down-turn. There's a real sense that employers across the region are ready to go, and they’re just waiting for interest rates to start coming down for them to press the button on hiring. It looks like the second half of the year could be good news for jobs.

“Growth picked up earlier in the year, and interest rates coming down is important. People can see new jobs coming down the track now, because as interest rates come down, cost of capital comes down for companies - and that makes investment more attractive, and of course with investment comes jobs.”

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