public sector faces up to 7 years of skills shortages

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation’s (REC) new whitepaper on the future of jobs, ‘Public Sector 2025’, shows that the public sector faces up to seven more years of skills shortages based on current demand.

In order to maintain the stability of public service delivery over the next decade there needs to be an urgent evaluation of current recruitment procedures as well as the impact of post-Brexit immigration models.

Data collated in the new whitepaper shows that: 10,000 EU staff have left the NHS since the Brexit referendum; 77 per cent of recruitment specialists say that health and social care staffing shortages will increase significantly over the next five years; Data from jobs site ‘Indeed’ said interest from jobseekers in nursing roles only increased by four per cent compared to an 11 per cent rise in the share of nursing roles posted; Interest in care roles decreased by eight per cent; 47 per cent of specialist recruiters in the education sector expect teacher shortages to increase significantly over the next five years; The REC’s monthly Report on Jobs data shows demand for IT staff sought after by both public and private sector employers increasing month on month, with candidate availability steadily decreasing since May 2013.

The public sector faces stiff competition from the private sector especially for technology roles needed to maintain cyber security and to deliver the public sector’s ‘digital by default’ approach. The use of automation and artificial intelligence over the coming years will further increase the need to attract and retain technology and digital experts into the public sector.

The whitepaper recommends four priorities for the public sector to work on to develop a high-calibre and agile workforce by 2025:

1. Prepare workforce plans for different Brexit scenarios and build a cadre of future public sector leaders who can navigate a fast-changing landscape.
2. Embed flexible work across the public sector and harness external expertise to drive workforce innovation.
3. Pre-empt the impact of AI and automation on skill needs and use technology to enhance recruitment supply chains.
4. Lead the way on inclusive hiring and ‘good work’ in the public sector to ‘re-brand’ jobs in the public sector and attract the next generation of workers.

Tom Hadley, the REC’s director of policy and professional services, said,

There has never been a more important time to review workforce trends and find solutions to current and future challenges. The public and private sector are increasingly fishing in the same limited talent pool, but there are real opportunities for public sector employers to compete by focusing on purpose and progression and by streamlining hiring processes, using new technology and really listening to candidate feedback. An immediate priority is evaluating the impact that post-Brexit immigration models could have on staffing in the public sector. Employers need to take urgent action to future proof hiring procedures and workforce management to deliver quality public services.

Recruitment practices risk being out of sync with the fast-changing world of work. Public sector employers will need to compete with the private sector by driving innovation in recruitment (including the potential use of AI as part of selection procedures). Keeping up with the expectations of candidates, regularly reviewing hiring criteria and procedures and using purpose, progression opportunities and flexible working as key hooks for reaching out to a new generation of public sector workers.

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Aphrodite is a creative writer and editor specialising in publishing and communications. She is passionate about undertaking projects in diverse sectors. She has written and edited copy for media as varied as social enterprise, art, fashion and education. She is at her most happy owning a project from its very conception, focusing on the client and project research in the first instance, and working closely with CEOs and Directors throughout the consultation process. Much of her work has focused on rebranding; messaging and tone of voice is one of her expertise, as is a distinctively unique writing style in my most of her creative projects. Her work is always driven by the versatility of language to galvanise image and to change perception, as it is by inspiring and being inspired by the wondrous diversity of people with whom paths she crosses cross!

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