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The true cost of the UK skills gap

We can all delight in the news that according to data from the Office for National Statistics, employment hit a record high in March and unemployment fell to its lowest level since 1975. Whilst obviously positive, unfortunately it has a knock on effect and considerably reduces available talent when recruiting. Combine this with uncertainty over Brexit resulting in people choosing not to change their current role and a lack of EU nationals looking to work in the UK, there is a real problem. The end product is a skills gap that is, according to the latest research from the Open University₁, costing UK businesses more than £2 billion a year in higher salaries, recruitment costs and temporary staffing. The Open University Business Barometer’s role is to monitor the skills landscape of the UK and their recent study has found that 90 per cent of employers have found it difficult to recruit workers with the required skills in the last 12 months. Some have even had to inflate salaries above industry standards, finding it essential to attract talented workers with strong skills, resulting in an extra cost of at least £527 million. The impact of the skills gap hasn’t ended there, with 75% of employers reporting it takes an average of one month and 24 days more than expected to recruit. Again extra costs have had to be incurred, to cover additional recruitment and temporary workers costs, an estimated £1.7 billion. The study has also highlighted a number of other trends, including: Managerial roles are proving particularly difficult to fill, with one in five struggling to hire both senior managers...

Whatsapp and the NHS

The recent cyber attack that left the NHS virtually crippled has had many of us question how well protected is our confidential personal information held by the NHS.  The latest information provided to the BBC₁ appears to show our concerns are well founded and recent events could just be the tip of the iceberg. Use of internet-based messaging apps to send patient information is banned under current NHS guidelines, however, doctors and nurses are using WhatsApp and Snapchat to share information about patients “across the NHS”, health professionals have told the BBC. GP Alisdair MacNair said he was aware of a number of medical groups using WhatsApp to discuss patients. “I have also seen chat on Facebook groups that sails pretty close to the wind in terms of discussing medical information. I’ve definitely seen stuff which is one step away from being patient identifying. I’m very wary of going near anything like that because of the risk of breaching data laws, but it would appear others don’t seem to be aware of the risks.” Georgie Gould, a junior doctor who last year conducted her own study of how doctors were communicating, found 30% of surgeons at St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey, Surrey, were using WhatsApp as part of their day-to-day communication. It bears out similar findings published in the British Medical Journal, which found that of 2,000 doctors across five hospitals, a third were using web-based apps to send clinical information. According to NHS England’s guidelines, the use of WhatsApp or similar app is strictly banned for the purposes of sending patient data. However, the NHS does not provide...

Five things to look out for in recruitment technology

Despite the obvious human aspects of putting an employer in touch with a candidate and nurturing the relationship until, hopefully, the candidate gets hired, recruitment technology is helping to accelerate the process and improve the quality of candidates put forward. As we move forwards through the 2017-18 financial year, there are still some forms of recruitment technology emerging and maturing – here are five of the hottest picks for the coming months.   1. The Gig Economy One of the biggest buzzwords of the past year or so, the Gig Economy is finding maturity as online marketplaces spring up for an ever increasing number of niches. These sites allow employers to find contractors on a per project basis, although they often require all communication to go via the website, rather than direct to the individual.   2. Chat Bots Automated ‘live chat’ bots might not be 100% convincing, but they are an easy way to get information from website visitors without having someone physically manning the chat room. In this way, candidates can provide their information in a more natural, conversational way, with the chat bot then compiling it all together into an application pack.   3. Social Recruitment LinkedIn arguably kickstarted the social recruitment revolution, but more companies are embracing recruitment via the other social networks too – even those that are not meant specifically for business use. The current main social networks have been around for a few years, but continue to evolve with new opportunities for paid ad placements and sponsored recruitment posts unlocking new options for employers.   4. Video and VR Video conferencing continues...

How is machine learning changing recruitment?

Machine learning might be an unfamiliar concept to many people, but the principles behind it are quite straightforward. Instead of giving a computer direct programming to achieve an outcome, you feed it a database of past results and use a learning algorithm to predict what will work in the future. For example, if writing a song, you might ask the computer to analyse recent pop music hits and tell you what key and tempo sell best, how many verses and choruses to have, and so on. Machine learning is particularly well suited to complex human interactions, ranging from marketing to recruitment, as it allows computers to apply their full processing power to the problem, not limited by the thought processes of the human who programs them. Machine learning in recruitment The potential applications of machine learning in recruitment are vast, especially considering the huge amounts of data that are now available about potential candidates on social networks from LinkedIn to more casual platforms like Twitter and Facebook. By running the candidate’s profiles and posts through complex algorithms, computers can identify patterns that a human would never spot, and flag up the individuals who would be likely to thrive in the role, based on which of their predecessors performed the best. Speed is of course a major factor in this, as computers can do all of that much faster than a person can do it by hand, and in this way you get a head start over the competition when an especially capable candidate expresses an interest. This doesn’t mean recruitment is automated, by any means – there are still...

Employer branding for recruitment agencies

In today’s employment market, “employer branding” can mean the difference between attracting the best candidates into a role, and seeing those talented individuals take a job elsewhere based on a rival company’s reputation. Employer branding is a little different from direct branding for marketing purposes, as it is all about what you can offer to those who choose to work for you, rather than those who are your customers, but many of the same principles apply, and that ranges from demonstrating the history and heritage of your brand, to the stability and growth prospects of your company, for employees who hope to work for you for a long time to come. For recruitment agencies, building a positive employer brand is equally important, whether you build on an existing positive reputation for a well-known employer, or start from scratch in trying to make a new opportunity sound more appealing to the best candidates on your books. A useful thought experiment in this area is to imagine the job advertisement cannot name the employer – which is often the case anyway – and how you would go about describing the company in anonymous but positive terms. This can help to identify the positive aspects of the employer company, which can in turn form the basis for employer branding efforts when communicating with potential candidates about vacancies within that firm. Benefits derived from this can be far-reaching in a surprisingly broad range of industries, as a candidate attracted by the employer brand can be more likely to start enthusiastically in their new role and to be more engaged over the long term. Just...

Content and its importance for SEO

People talk a lot about the importance of content for SEO, but in such a broad topic it can be difficult to pin down exactly what ‘content’ means to different people, and why it is so crucial for your search rankings and site traffic. In fact content encompasses everything you publish online – including your own website, your ‘about us’ page, product descriptions and service pages, news updates and press releases, and also non- text content like images, videos, audio files and anything else you create and share. You can share content elsewhere too, on social networks – for example by tweeting an infographic or adding photographs to a Flickr account – or by publishing an article on an industry news site or as a guest blog post on a third-party blog. So what does all of this do for your SEO? On-page text is still a crucial factor in helping the search engines, and especially the main contenders Google and Bing, to identify the topics your website is relevant to, so there is still huge value in publishing authoritative plain-text content with your main topics in the page title or subheadings. Your website is perceived as having more authority if more people link to it too, so engaging content that people are likely to share elsewhere online is a good thing; just don’t be tempted to pay someone to link to you, as this can get your search ranking penalised by Google. Mobile-friendly content is a specific benefit to your ranking in searches made by people using mobile devices, so ensure your content is published using a page...