When Life Gives You Lemons… But All You Wanted Was a Candidate

The Labour Market Report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) this month showed Scotland reaching a record low number of unemployed adults at just 3.1%. While this is a great sign for the economy, it is causing difficulties for companies that are struggling to recruit new staff.

Commenting on the latest statistics, Scotland’s Employment Minister Richard Lochhead said: “The low unemployment rate across Scotland and close to record high employment rates for all 16 to 64-year-olds are welcome but certain industries still face recruitment challenges.”

One of the main reasons why Scottish companies are finding it difficult to recruit staff is the fierce competition for talent. With the unemployment rate as it is, there are fewer people actively seeking employment. This means that the pool of potential candidates for job openings is smaller, making it harder for companies to find the right fit for their roles. Furthermore, with many companies competing for the same talent, it is becoming increasingly challenging for businesses to retain employees.

Secondly, there is also an issue with the skills gap in Scotland. An aging workforce is contributing to the issue as seasoned professionals are retiring at a faster rate than new entrants are joining the industry. The Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) predicts that almost 20% of the current workforce will retire by 2026. As these experienced workers exit the workforce, they take with them valuable knowledge and skills.

Thirdly, there is the issue of location. With the rise of remote work and hybrid models of work, many employees are now more flexible in terms of where they can work. This means that Scottish companies may be competing not just with local businesses but with national and international companies as well, which can make recruitment even more challenging.

So, what can companies do to overcome these challenges? One approach is to focus on building strong employer brands. By creating a positive reputation as an employer, companies can attract and retain top talent, even in a competitive job market. This can be achieved through initiatives such as offering competitive salaries and benefits, creating a positive workplace culture, and investing in employee development and training. We wrote about a blog post called ‘What Sports Can Teach Us About Developing a Culture’, which might help you with this.

Another strategy is to expand the talent pool by partnering with local educational institutions and training providers. By working closely with these organisations, companies can help to close the skills gap and create a pipeline of potential candidates for future job openings. This can also help to improve diversity and inclusion within the workforce, which is becoming increasingly important for many companies. Here’s another of our blogs about the value of diversity in the workplace.

Where before, you would start arranging interviews once you had 3 or 4 suitable candidates to see, you should now arrange to begin the interview process as soon as you identify someone who is of interest. If you don’t move quickly, someone else will. Last March we wrote a blog post highlighting ‘5 Ways to Speed Up Your Hiring Process’.

Finally, companies can also consider offering more flexible working arrangements, such as remote work or flexible hours. This can be a powerful tool for attracting and retaining top talent, especially those who value work-life balance or have caregiving responsibilities.

In conclusion, the low unemployment rate in March 2023 presents a significant challenge for Scottish companies seeking to recruit staff. However, by focusing on building strong employer brands, expanding the talent pool, expediting your recruitment process, and offering flexible working arrangements, companies can overcome these challenges and continue to thrive in a competitive job market.