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HR industry skills gap concerns exacerbated by Brexit

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Most organisations within the HR industry (73%) are feeling strained due to a lack of skilled workers.

In its new Mind the Gap report, recruitment firm Search Consultancy found that the main contributors toward the skills shortage in HR were a lack of qualified candidates (37%), followed by issues with retention (29%).

One of the factors causing concern for 27% of respondents was Brexit.

Speaking to HR magazine Jillian Fleming, Search Consultancy HR manager, added that a great deal of uncertainty persists in the UK job market as it deals with the impact of the pandemic, Brexit and an ageing workforce.

She said: "Although three quarters of older workers state that they would not leave the UK to work, a looming concern remains that, once this group reach the age they no longer need to work, a skills gap will be created within this industry that will cover two generations of HR professionals, as low to mid-level HR workers decide to live and work outside of the UK.”

Ed O’Connell, managing director of HR at Search Consultancy, said the changes to employing EU workers has lead to an increase in demand for niche skills in key industries like HR.

He said: “Businesses, now more than ever, have an increasing range of challenges which combined with a short supply of key talent means there is strong competition for the market’s key skills.”

Proactiveness, attitude and resilience, work ethic and emotional intelligence were the skills and qualities found to be lacking the most in the HR sector. 

The top three skills employers desired the most were identified as a positive attitude, teamwork and adaptability.


Brexit’s effect on skills shortages in the UK:

Third are worried about Brexit-related HR skills shortage

Manufacturers face skills shortage post-Brexit

UK employers pay more for skilled workers


To plug the HR skills gap O'Connell said businesses will need to encourage fresh talent to consider a career in HR, and provide continued training and investment in existing teams.

One-third of businesses in the report said they had introduced more internal training to elevate staff skillsets. One in five had also invested in external training, and 20% have recruited internally from other roles that may not necessarily be as impacted by the skills shortage.

O’Connell added: “Building key communities of talent and promoting such skills will recognise the importance of key skills at a point when the markets need both to recover and to innovate.

“Recruiters are central in this activity and can influence the pace at which we both recover and innovate.”

The Mind the Gap report is based on market research with over 1,000 senior managers across 20 sectors providing a fair representation of the current landscape in the UK. It was published February 2021.