For several years, organisations across a broad range of sectors have dealt with severe skills shortages that have impacted their ability to recruit and retain the talent they need.

In 2021, new practices and processes emerged from the pandemic, including remote working and the rise of digital adoption, alongside the reopening of the economy and delayed impacts on Brexit, have further exacerbated these shortages as businesses attempt to secure skills they had not previously accounted for.  It’s reported as the ‘perfect storm’, and the UK is now struggling with the worst labour shortages in almost a quarter of a century.  

In the latest Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC)/KPMG UK Report on Jobs survey, REC warned that the availability of workers was deteriorating at a record rate. In June, permanent appointments expanded at the fastest rate since the survey began in October 1997, while temp billings grew at their highest level for nearly 23 years. However, during the same period, the availability of workers fell at an unprecedented rate, leading to a sharp increase in starting rates of pay. The demand moved beyond crisis-hit sectors, such as hospitality, with jobs in IT and computing rising the fastest in June, followed by hotel and catering jobs and engineering.

It’s leaving candidates, particularly those with niche skill sets, with more options and opportunities than ever before and with employers facing challenges not just recruiting people but also fending off headhunters to retain existing employees.

Talent acquisition (TA) teams report higher than usual candidate drop-off after the interview stage and applicants turning down employment offers or reneging an acceptance before starting. Such activity is thought to be down to the following factors: 


  • Virtual processes. The increasingly virtual nature of recruitment and onboarding equates to a lack of engagement and commitment to an employer.
  • Counter offers. Employers looking to keep staff are providing attractive counter offers to retain valuable skills and avoid entering the war for new talent. 
  • Multiple job offers. With the wealth of opportunities available right now for scarce skills, candidates are finding themselves receiving multiple job offers. 


TA teams are now exploring ways to add value to their companies overall proposition to help them stand out from the competition and attract and retain the skills they need. Just some areas of focus are: 


  • Creating remote positions. Hybrid working is a popular choice for many organisations in 2021, but this can still limit talent to a particular geographical area. Employers are making more roles fully remote to broaden their candidate pool. 
  • Employee value proposition (EVP). Omni’s Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey 2020, created in partnership with the CIPD, confirmed that organisational values are the most important element of an employer brand when it comes to attracting talent. With candidates paying closer attention to corporate websites, social media messaging, company news and online employee reviews, an EVP must be clear and consistent across all communications.
  • Job adverts. The more detailed a job ad, the less likely someone will tick all of the boxes. Employers are concluding that making too many demands reduces the pool of potential hires and can even be off-putting for those who do fit the bill.  It’s also documented that females in particular are also more likely to rule themselves out if they don’t meet all the required criteria. As a result, job ads are becoming more stripped back to solely focus on essential criteria, removing ‘desirable’ altogether. 
  • Internal mobility. Nurturing an existing skills base means fewer recruitment costs and an increased ability to future proof critical roles. More organisations are investing in bolstering learning and development programmes and creating clear career paths for employees.
  • Workforce planning. Although a longer term solution, effectively planning future demand will quickly pay dividends whilst those that don’t will continue to be reactive.  Effective planning allows for strategic interventions to be thought through and less knee jerk. TALiNT reports that one potential avenue employers grappling with shortages may wish to explore in the short term is adapting some of their positions to appeal to the graduate market, as although vacancy numbers as a whole are rising, in the graduate market, the reverse is true.
  • External talent partners. Talent attraction is a key focus of an external talent specialist, meaning they have the know-how and resources to connect to unidentified people. Companies are increasingly engaging talent partners, like RPOs, to help them recruit new talent and develop internal mobility programmes, which are crucial for retention, succession planning and cost management.


Key Challenges in the Road Ahead…

Coming Soon: In our guide, ‘The Talent Acquisition Odyssey: Key Challenges in the Road Ahead’, we delve into some of the main pain points and areas of focus for TA teams right now. We also explore why there is now an increased reliance on external recruitment partners and the significant value they can add to organisations looking to grow and thrive in 2021 and beyond. 

For further information on Workforce planning and how Omni can support, click here.