According to a PwC survey 28% of UK firms are planning to increase their headcount next year, with 15% of these implementing significant growth. These figures are startling compared to last year’s, which suggested that just 13% planned staff increases. Adding impact to these job increases is the fact that the number planning cuts had decreased from 43% in 2009 to a mere 16% this year.
Michael Rendell, head of HR services at PwC, commented,
“The expected headcount increases are encouraging news for the job market and suggest the private sector will be able to accommodate those public sector workers who are made redundant. While 13% of firms say the new jobs will be making up for reductions made during the downturn, 15% plan significant increases over and above this point. This shows a confidence that economic growth will continue, notwithstanding geopolitical uncertainty and the sovereign debt crisis. We expect demand to be particularly high among services, technology and manufacturing industries.
For organisations to meet their headcount targets, retaining employees will be just as important as finding new hires. The loyalty of many workers will have been severely tested during the last two years, and will be challenged further as the job market picks up. Identifying how best to reward and motivate these individuals should be the top priority, and will remain challenging, given pay constraints in many businesses.”
However, despite this positive commentary, 2011 will not be an easy ride for recruiters will skills shortages proving to be the biggest challenge with 53% of UK respondents ranking this the largest challenge. Rendell offers the following advice in response to this challenge,
“The UK has lost its position as the world’s most educated workforce, which is particularly worrying as we come out of the recession and may limit future growth. Companies need to take a more systematic approach to learning and development, identifying the skills they need for particular roles and training staff accordingly. Training spend should be treated with the same rigour as any other capital investment, with appropriate due diligence and evaluation. Moreover, employers need to do more to ensure people have the right skills when they start their careers, and partnering with universities and schools may help achieve this goal.”
Further to skills shortages other challenges for UK companies are global mobility and employment laws which have both been affected greatly by changes made by the coalition government.