What does recruitment and employment look like for 2016?

In the January 2016 issue of Business First Magazine, Diamond's Managing Director, Tina McKenzie, shares her insight into recruitment and employment in 2016.

Jan 18, 2016

In the latest issue of Business First Magazine, Diamond's Managing Director, Tina McKenzie, shares her insight into recruitment and employment in 2016, looking at the opportunities available to job seekers and the challenges ahead for employers who seek to attract the best talent in a more competitive labour market.

Throughout 2015, we have seen unemployment in Northern Ireland continue to drop, with November’s unemployment figures at 5.9%, down from a peak of 8.1% in March 2013. The REC/KPMG’s monthly Report on Jobs data also shows that jobs placements through recruitment agencies across the UK have now increased for 37 consecutive months. We are even ending 2015 on a high note, with permanent placements in November increasing at the fastest pace in seven months.

Labour market favours job seekers

This is obviously great news for the UK economy as a whole, and it presents exciting opportunities for job seekers as they find themselves choosing the best employer from a market that has shifted in their favour. The REC are also predicting further growth in 2016, with 80% of surveyed employers in the UK planning to hire more staff over the next three months, according to the REC’s latest JobsOutlook report.

However, this does pose some new challenges for local employers as this improving labour market has led to increased competition for talent. In line with placements increasing, candidate availability fell at sharp and accelerated rates in November according to the Report on Jobs. The labour market is tightening.

As employers find it more difficult to fill the jobs that are available, the increased competition for staff has seen marked growth in pay for successful candidates in the last year. This demand for staff has also seen hourly pay rates for contract staff grow at the fastest pace in three months.

The challenge for employers

While these pressures are likely to be felt across sectors, IT and Accountancy/Finance are the sectors with the strongest growth in permanent placements at the end of 2015, with this trend likely to continue into 2016. Employers are competing for the talent available at a higher pace than our local higher education institutions can keep up.

The demand for suitably skilled and qualified IT staff is particularly of note this year. In 2014, demand was highest for Nursing/Medical/Care staff in the UK whilst demand for IT staff only ranked as 4th. In comparison this year we have seen a complete reversal – permanent placements for medical staff was 4th whilst placements for IT staff took the top spot.

It is no surprise then that among the key staff skills in short supply across the UK according to the Report on Jobs were skills in computing and finance, two areas of growth in Northern Ireland. Among IT skills in demand were automation, IT security and web development, all areas where jobs available outstrip available staff and in which employers locally compete to find the best talent.

Facing the challenge

Staffline Ireland’s specialist professional recruitment agency, Diamond Recruitment, have sought to address this challenge head on – by identifying and working closely with Northern Ireland’s leading IT professionals year round, Diamond are able to access the best talent in Northern Ireland before the search is necessary. By building these relationships early, we are able to quickly match candidates with opportunities as they arise. This has led to us building the largest database of IT professionals in the region, giving us immediate access to talented and skilled candidates as soon as a vacancy is created.

As we move into 2016, Diamond Recruitment is preparing for the annual influx of job hunters. January is usually when we see an increase in candidates entering the market, hungry for their next opportunity. So, we will be registering new candidates to our database around the clock to ensure any vacancies we are given are matched to the right people with the right skills.

While this influx of candidates in the New Year will help to reinvigorate the labour market with fresh talent, employers will still need to be well placed in order to entice the talented staff their businesses rely on. This year saw an increasingly tightening labour market, and while the New Year will help increase candidate availability, this offers no guarantees for the rest of 2016 and it is best to be prepared with a strategic recruitment plan that attracts the best people with the right skills.

For 2016 and beyond, Northern Ireland must work on using the information at our fingertips to help inform future generations of the opportunities available in the local market. For those of us with children in third form, we know how difficult it is for young people to decide the best career path! Luckily, as recruiters we are able to see the ebbs and flows in the labour market based on the jobs we receive, and we have become increasingly adept at pre-empting future skills needs. Reports from bodies such as the REC and DETI’s Economic and Labour Market Statistics unit also give a glimpse into what skills will be critical for a growing economy in Northern Ireland.

Jobs transform lives, which is why the recruitment industry is committed to helping more people develop awareness and clarity with regards to work opportunities in the market. For business leaders, familiarising ourselves with the information available will help us with our businesses looking ahead to 2016, but for long-term impact the recruitment and employment industry’s engagement with policy makers, employers and education experts to promote this knowledge will do much to benefit the Northern Ireland economy and build the best jobs market possible.