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Optimism in HR sector despite economic downturn

A sense of optimism is returning to the HR sector despite the poor economic climate, the Association of Graduate Recruiters has claimed.
Although 2010 will be a challenging year, Carl Gilleard, chief executive of AGR, said there was cause for hope that the industry would survive the downturn.
At the annual general meeting in London, Mr Gilleard revealed that he would be discussing graduate unemployment and measuring and recording student achievement and tuition fees with the Government next year.
He also said the AGR would be continuing to extend its international research and will continue to survey the UK graduate recruitment market in 2010.
He said they would be developing a new research initiative with the International Network of Graduate Recruitment and Development Associations, which will compare graduate vacancies, salaries and retention levels in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, South Africa and Hong Kong.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for the AGR and its members and means that we will be able to lead the debate surrounding the extremely important issues that affect graduates and the graduate employment market,” Mr Gilleard said.
According to a recent study by Lancaster University Management School extra work has gone into boosting the number of graduates in employment, as hiring university-leavers has shown to provide firms a 500 per cent return on their investment in just three years.
And with the current difficulties faced by graduates in the poor economic climate, Gordon Brown recently announced a proposal to offer “high quality” internships and business training to any graduate who has been out of work for six months or more.

Economic revival could pose problems for HR directors, survey says

HR directors face a mass exodus of talent as the economy starts to recover, according to new research.

Employees fed up with work or their bosses are poised to move jobs – or even sectors when the upturn begins in earnest.

According to exclusive research for HR magazine by FreshMinds Talent, 24% of staff are dissatisfied in their jobs, almost half (45%) regret having chosen their current sector and 64% said the recession had made them think about moving sector.

The findings are supported by financial recruitment specialist Parkside, which found 26% of accountants will ‘definitely’ move after the market improves and 29% are considering moving.

The news comes as Manpower predicted a 2% rise in recruitment between October and December this year, with 80% of firms saying no more redundancies are planned during this period.

Stephen Bevan, managing director of The Work Foundation, said: “Unemployment is still going up and it will take longer for the job market to recover than the economy. So firms will not see any real exodus for a year or 18 months.”

However, he added: “Talented employees have more labour market power, so if they want to change jobs, they will experience demand however the job market is faring.”

Mr Bevan said the best way for employers to retain this volatile contingent of staff is not through increasing pay but providing autonomy and development opportunities.
HR Magazine

HR urges tax breaks for hiring jobless

HR professionals have backed calls for tax breaks to be given to businesses hiring the long-term unemployed.

As unemployment reached 2.47 million last week, a survey of 500 finance directors by law firm Grant Thornton revealed that 59% supported plans to offer workers a year’s holiday from paying national insurance contributions when hiring people who have been out of work for more than 12 months.

Sandy Begbie, executive HR director at Aegon UK, told Personnel Today: “It is clear there are risks associated with the recruitment of the long-term unemployed, and as such there should be some incentive for employers to recruit from that population.
“It would encourage employers to recruit the long-term unemployed while also providing employers with the opportunity of giving something back to the community as part of a well-developed corporate responsibility plan.”

Jonathan Cawthra, group resources director of housing association Affinity Sutton, added: “This initiative would create a financial incentive and some headroom that tilts the scales in favour of taking the risk, so I support it.”

While the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) welcomed the proposal, it warned the tax holiday should be closely linked to Local Employment Partnerships and the development of employability skills.

John Philpott, chief economist at the CIPD, said: “The CIPD supports this kind of measure in principle but believes that it could not work as an automatic mechanism but would have to be linked to other measures designed to improve the employability of the long-term unemployed and/or institutions such as Local Employment Partnerships.

“A simple recruitment incentive such as the national insurance holiday is unlikely to have much impact.”

In August, Personnel Today reported the CBI called for the £1,000 subsidy currently offered to those recruiting the long-term unemployed to be stopped and given instead to those hiring the young unemployed.

Survey shows HR managers finding it tough to hold on to graduates

A new survey has revealed that more than two thirds of graduates are likely to leave their jobs as Britain starts ot emerge from the recession.

The poll, of 150 graduates in some of the country’s biggest firms, revealed that 67 per cent would leave their post before completing three years’ service.

Commissioned by the Inspirational Development Group, the survey also asked 65 HR managers/directors across a range of industry sectors, including banking, engineering, public and private their thoughts on employing university-educated workers.

The results revealed that almost half of HR managers said they had problems retaining graduates, with 22% reporting that on average they lose graduates within two years of their employment.

Almost 60% felt that there was more they could do to retain these graduates and three quarters of HR managers said most graduates left the company after less than four years’ service.

The research uncovered the many difficulties HR managers face in measuring the return on investment of graduate schemes.

While some respondents stated that graduate programmes had been scaled down, the majority of HR managers viewed stopping schemes altogether as a mistake that would lead to a disproportionate gap in the talent pipeline amongst new graduates.

A big effect of the recession has been a shift in application patterns, with the financial services seeing a drop-off and public sector organisations, such as the NHS, seeing a massive rise – 7,000 applicants last year compared with 16,000 in 2009.

Hana Searson, Head of Talent Management for IDG, said: “The information we have gathered highlights a lack of measurement in terms of return on investment and a need for companies to get better at identifying the right graduates for their business.

”It seems that many companies view the high turnover of graduates at this crucial two to three year point as inevitable.

“Organisations need to identify potential stars early on in their placements in order to map out clear plans to retain these individuals. It is not all about monetary return – the enthusiasm and fresh-thinking that graduates bring to an organisation is definitely beneficial and can be reaped throughout the duration of the graduate programme, even if individuals decide to leave once this is over. “

It pays to be stylish

It has long been said that first impressions count.
But with rising unemployment and competition for jobs at an all time high, never has what you wear when you walk into an interview been so important.
Indeed, a new survey by senior executive careers site, has revealed that 76 per cent of UK bosses would decide against hiring a candidate because of their interview attire.
A further 37 per cent recently reported not hiring someone because they deemed their clothing inappropriate.
“While an individual’s skills and experience may get them to interview stage, the importance of appearance in influencing that all-important first impression should not be underestimated,” said Steve Leeson, associate director of Morgan McKinley, a British financial recruitment company.
“It’s always a good idea to find out what the dress code is before you go for an interview.”
Although this advice may seem obvious, HR managers say they are consistently flabbergasted by candidates who get it wrong.
Turning up dressed in jeans, with piercings and looking like a punk rocker, for example, is hardly likely to get you a finance job in the city.
With the recession biting designers have been quick to reflect the more sombre and serious economic mood in their collections.
Clothing with a corporate flavour dominated the autumn/winter women’s wear shows, which included a high quota of skirt suits, not to mention a plethora of grey everywhere from Giorgio Armani to Max Mara.
Bespoke tailor Duncan Quinn said that casual style is out and suit sales are rising across his stores in New York, Dallas and Los Angeles. A spokesperson for Ralph Lauren also confirmed that sales of suits are up for the label.
“A friend who works at Citigroup noted that as layoffs were happening during 2008, there was a more sombre tone in what people were wearing,” said Rebecca Matchett of Rebecca & Drew, which specialises in women’s dress shirts tailored to bra size.
“(As a result) we have scaled back our trend-driven items and focused on classic styles.”

HR recruitment continues upward trend despite recession

The Human Resources recruitment market has continued to improve and is bucking the recession, new figures have revealed.
In its latest employment index, Monster reported a one point increase in hiring activity in the sector, from 63 to 64 points.
This follows an 11 per cent increase in the HR recruitment index during July.
Although the news has been positive for the last two months, the fact that the baseline figure is 100 means there is still some way to go before the sector returns to normal.
However Hugo Sellert, head of economic research at Monster Worldwide, believes firms looking to recruit should be able to find the people they need.
He said: “The rising number of unemployed means that businesses have a larger pool of available talent to choose from.
“This increase in ease-of-hiring is in turn contributing to the reduction in advertising of live jobs.”
Recently, Stephanie Bird, director of HR capability at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, suggested that employers will be looking for professionals who have a proven track record in boosting workplace engagement.
Ian Partington, managing director of Simply Jobs Boards, said the HR market was proving to be strong despite the country’s bleak employment and economic condition.
”At Simply we have more than 400 HR jobs on offer at present, a phenomenally high figure given the current climate,” he said.
”People looking to break into or move around in this sector should be optimistic that we can help them secure the career they are looking for.”