The end of 2016 saw a marked slow-down in demand for HR Roles. Hesitancy in the market in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote meant caution around hiring for roles, and a tentativeness around future business strategy. As we headed into 2017 and the initial shock of the vote eased, it became very much “business as usual” for companies and 2017 looked set to be a buoyant year for HR hiring. This was driven by an increase in requirements for more complex roles as businesses tried to ready themselves for the post-Brexit market, and ensure that they were in the best shape to deal with the macro-economic factors that could severely impact business success for the unprepared.
Notable skills in demand within HR were:
- HR Change and Transformation: Businesses have been bringing in specialists with these skills to realign structures and maximise productivity through offshoring/outsourcing, as well as defining new frameworks and embedding processes to ensure businesses operate effectively. Many firms are also designing contingency plans and structures to ensure their business is prepared for every potential outcome of Brexit, with some organisations pre-emptively relocating large sections of their workforce to other European locations.
- HR Project Managers and HR Systems Implementation Specialists: Many organisations have embedded new HR systems and technology to support core basic activities and combine various databases and systems. This has enabled them to successfully use data analytics to facilitate effective decision making and remove the need for administrative roles. We have also seen a sharp increase in demand for individuals with experience of embedding these new systems effectively and managing the end-to-end process in-house.
- Talent Management and Leadership Development: Roles in this space are viewed as increasingly pivotal to an organisation’s success. Looking at existing talent, building succession plans and developing capabilities to drive engagement and behavioural change is key to ensuring organisational goals are achieved. Skilled individuals within this space were in high demand in 2017.
- Apprenticeship Recruitment/Programme Management: A new role within the HR space, demand for this position has increased dramatically with organisations looking to optimise their return on the apprenticeship levy, whilst embedding effective programmes for these individuals. As a new role, organisations are either transferring self-teaching individuals into this space or are pulling from the graduate recruitment space who can be trained up.
- HR Business Partner: As always, there was consistent demand in 2017 for highly commercial HR Business Partners, who can act in a strategic advisory capacity to define and shape business objectives. Finding strong commercial talent like this is a constant challenge for businesses, meaning the top professionals in this area are in high demand, making for a highly competitive market.
The first quarter of 2018 has seen a sluggish start for HR roles in the UK as businesses await the outcomes and agreements from the Brexit negotiations. One thing to note is an increase in demand for Talent Acquisition Managers as businesses seek to ensure they are well-positioned to hire talent in response to the shortly anticipated demand. Particularly as businesses feel that Brexit will trigger a shortage of talent in many areas leading to a highly competitive, candidate driven market.
Indicators suggest that the next few months will be interesting as we transition into unknown territory!
Nina Adair, Practice Head for HR & Talent Management.