Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

UK hiring plans up while skill shortages greater than ever says new Monster report

Flexible Future: UK Hiring Outlook 2022 says future is hybrid

  • The vast majority - 90% - of UK organisations are planning to recruit in 2022, up from 66% in 2021
  • Across all sectors, competition for talent is high, with 87% of employers saying they're struggling to fill positions
  • 51% of employers said that finding candidates with the skills they needed was their main challenge - candidate skills gap has increased from 34% of employers experiencing difficulty a year ago to a majority (51%) in 2022
  • 63% of employers sometimes failed to fill a role because of skills shortages
  • Employers claim challenge of meeting candidate work-life balance expectations increased from 28% to 50% between 2021 and 2022
  • The future is hybrid -  76% of companies are offering hybrid or remote positions
  • Hires will be split fairly evenly between those replacing staff and those hiring for new roles

The hiring outlook in the UK for the remainder of 2022 is positive, with 90% of UK employers planning to recruit this year, up from 66% in 2021.  However challenges, including skills shortages, threaten to disrupt the future of work, according to recruitment firm Monster’s new report – Flexible Future: UK Hiring Outlook 2022 - launched today.  Monster believes that this reflects an adjustment to a country no longer bound by Covid regulations and growing optimism in the economy, despite current uncertainties.

Monster’s annual Future of Work survey, undertaken in conjunction with independent research firm Dynata, is this year split into three volumes.  This first report, “Flexible Future: UK Hiring Outlook 2022” focuses on the hiring outlook and the return to work in the UK in 2022. The survey of over 400 UK recruitment, talent acquisition, and HR professionals aims to understand their current situation and their plans for the future across a range of sectors and shows that almost half of medium size businesses are planning to hire.  The survey covers every generation of workers, decision makers and users.

The survey highlights some important lessons for recruiters, “said Claire Barnes, Monster’s Chief Human Capital Officer. “The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed how, where and when we work, and recruiters need to catch up.

Flexible Future: UK Hiring Outlook 2022 lays bare the reality that flexible work is here to stay. Regardless of sector or specialty, the survey shows that there are five things every recruiter needs to put into practice to succeed:

  • Employers are having to change how and where they advertise, interview and recruit to attract new talent. Increasing workplace flexibility, upping wages and expanding location searches are all strategies they anticipate will help them secure the staff they need
  • Improve recruitment offers by providing flexible working options where possible
  • Increase the attractiveness of roles by adding extras, including training and development, bonuses and benefits
  • Embrace the opportunities provided by flexible working and cast your net wider by opening up opportunities to those outside your immediate area
  • Highlight willingness to consider transferable skills in job adverts, and develop mechanisms to assess them

Recruiters need to accept that recruitment will take longer and cost more, but should be assured that the talent is out there.”

The new jobs will be split fairly evenly between those replacing staff (47%) and those hiring for new roles (43%). 

Sector Differences

Demand for staff is particularly high in certain sectors, including healthcare, tech, and retail. Business services (49%), tech (48%) and healthcare (48%) sectors are replacing or backfilling roles more than they are expanding, and the automotive (60%), engineering (58%) and transportation (56%) sectors aim to employ additional staff this year.

Recruitment challenges for 2022

100% of company decision-makers are very confident (60%) or somewhat confident (40%) that they will secure the talent they are searching for. Unfortunately, that optimism isn’t shared by those who post the positions, with only 43% very confident - interestingly, there is a disconnect between the attitude of actual users of recruitment services – those who post the jobs and search the CVs - compared to that of the company decision makers.

“It could be that decision makers have a more strategic and longer-term view, or, on the other hand, it may be that the end users are at the coalface and are ahead of the curve in understanding the market,” said Claire Barnes.

2021's top hiring challenge “finding candidates with the skills that I need” remains, but has risen significantly from 34% of employers in 2021 to a majority (51%) in 2022. This is closely followed by the challenge of meeting candidates’ work-life balance expectations increasing from 28% to 50% between last year and this year.  However, both have been overtaken by recruiters finding it difficult to get people to work in-person and on-site, suggesting candidate demand for remote work may outstrip supply. Those planning to offer fully remote work (76%) have the greatest confidence, while those hiring for onsite work are only “somewhat confident” (63%).  

Claire Barnes explained, “This may reflect the fact that companies offering remote work have a much bigger talent pool to draw from, both nationally and internationally, but may also reflect an increased preference by employees for remote work.”

In the automotive sector, 54% said that unrealistic salary expectations were a problem.  Unsurprisingly, 61% of employers in leisure and hospitality said competing with other companies for talent was their biggest concern. This was especially acute in the retail and hospitality sectors, because of the need for most people to work on site (both 45%).

Skills Gap Challenge

Recruiters are realistic about the challenge of finding the right staff to fit their organisation, according to the survey.   Many large businesses, (66%) and certain sectors in particular - education (63%), manufacturing (52%), leisure and hospitality (52%) - said they will struggle to find candidates with the skills they need in 2022.

Across all sectors, competition for talent is high, with 87% of employers saying they're struggling to fill positions and many agreeing that “the candidate skills gap has increased compared to a year ago.”  This growing skills shortage means that recruiters are searching outside the traditional pool. As a result, candidates are encouraged to highlight transferable skills and apply for roles outside of existing specialisms.

On a positive note, 70% of UK recruiters say they are willing to hire someone with transferable skills and train them. Yet they may be unlikely to make the assessment of suitability themselves, with 50% saying that candidates need to articulate their transferable skills.  33% of employers identify “assessing transferable skills” as a key challenge for 2022.

The soft skills most in demand include communications, collaboration, problem solving and flexibility.  The hard skills most in demand are IT, operations and strategic planning. And 63% of employers sometimes failed to fill a role because of skills shortages, the survey found.

Returning to Work

There is a debate going on about whether hybrid and remote working is permanent or will peter out now that the rules around Covid are no longer in place.  However, our research shows that changing work patterns are here to stay, “said Claire Barnes.  She added,It’s clear that the UK is open for business, with recruiters actively searching for new staff. But, to succeed in the battle for talent, organisations must be more flexible and responsive to the changing demands of employees.”

The competition for talent is shifting expectations.  Even with the lifting of Covid restrictions, it is essential to offer employees opportunities to work remotely or flexibly, say 52% of UK recruiters. Employees are increasingly taking the driving seat, with flexible roles easier to fill than on-site ones, the survey finds. So, while bosses may want a return to the pre-pandemic status quo, it appears the new normal of hybrid work is long-term.

The Future is Hybrid

Monster UK’s research shows that 68% of candidates want to work flexibly, with 43% wanting hybrid work and 25% wanting fully remote working. In response, 76% of companies are offering hybrid or remote positions.  Across all those questioned, some 60% will continue with hybrid working this year, while 16% will be fully virtual and just 21% will require their employees to be fully on-site.  The survey found that 76% of recruiters advertising for fully remote roles are confident of hiring the right talent, while 63% of recruiters are “somewhat confident” of filling full-time on-site roles.

57% of employers surveyed say working some days from home is negotiable, rising to 70% in the technology sector.  48% of employers believe that flexible work options help them to retain talent and that allowing employees flexible working schedules has worked well. 47% of companies hiring in the UK believe that offering flexible work options gives them a recruiting advantage.

About Monster 

Monster is a global leader in connecting the right people to the right jobs. Every day, Monster aims to make every workplace happier and more productive by transforming the way employers find talent and candidates find careers. For 25 years, Monster has worked to transform the recruiting industry. Today, the company leverages innovative digital, social and mobile solutions, including its mobile apps and CV database engine SearchMonster, to enable employers and candidates to see each other more clearly. Monster is a digital venture owned by Randstad North America, a subsidiary of Randstad N.V., a €23.8 billion global provider of flexible work and human resources services.