Recruitment levels have increased in the South West after slow start to 2019

Morgan McKinley 08.07.2019

Organisations in the South West have to offer increasingly innovative benefits to attract and retain HR and finance talent.

What has the hiring landscape been like in the South West over the first half of 2019?

The Accountancy & Finance market across the South West has shown some signs of improvement in recent months compared to the start of 2019, but it remains inconsistent for both interim and permanent job seekers. 

Newly Qualified Accountants remain in high demand, and there continues to be a significant number of opportunities for finance professionals with strong business partnering skills. The senior end of the market is flooded with quality candidates, as organisations have looked to strip out senior roles and implement restructuring plans to ensure they are cost effective and fit for purpose. At the junior end, there are fewer graduate jobs and schemes available - largely because the shape of finance functions is changing due to the impact of offshoring and robotics. Employers need to review their graduate programmes in the war for talent to ensure they are competitive and have succession plans in place, and companies are starting to look at implementing graduate systems, particularly those that have been through recent transformation, within their finance teams.

There has been consistent demand for experienced payroll and credit control professionals, and Part Qualified finance roles are also increasing in frequency as businesses take steps to bring in talent for the long-term future - salaries at this level are being inflated as a result. There has also been an emphasis on senior level roles with a commercial focus to help ensure the business is robust. FP&A roles and Finance Business Partner opportunities are particularly prevalent, and those with the requisite experience are finding their skills to be in high demand.

The Human Resources market has been slow for most of 2019. Hiring at the senior end has been almost non-existent, certainly for permanent roles, which has driven the interim market to experience a dip in day rates. There was a spike in mid-level HR jobs available at the end of June but the senior market has remained relatively flat. The public sector and not for profit organisations have been hiring directly as they have been going through restructures. Learning & Development, as well as Talent roles, have dominated the market. HR Business Partners working in Construction have been in high demand but the salaries are being driven down and a more commercial focus is being put on HRBP roles.

How to keep the workforce motivated and attract new employees

Organisations in the South West are constantly looking at new and innovative ways to retain and attract new talent. Flexible and agile working has now become the norm rather than an additional benefit. Certain organisations have demonstrated their commitment to talent acquisition and retention by regularly engaging with the workforce and offering increasingly unique perks. Whilst CSR is important and becoming more prominent, it isn’t a decisive factor when applicants are considering new roles.

Wellbeing and mental health awareness are still high on the agenda, and businesses continue to look at ways of making their office environment appealing. Further to this, companies based in the South West continue to look at ways of bridging the gender pay gap and in general improve diversity in the workplace - a number of large blue chip organisations in the area have fully committed to recruiting females into leadership roles. 

What has made professionals based in the South West successful? 

Finance

  • International Tax and VAT are increasingly in demand skills with many organisations looking to bring tax functions in-house to deal with the potential ramifications of Brexit
  • There appears to be a lack of professionals with project management experience, so displaying this on a CV is beneficial

Human Resources

  • Regional HRBP have been in demand, mainly from manufacturing and retail businesses
  • HR Systems and Reward skills have been sought after

How can job seekers stay motivated over the slower summer months?

The summer months are traditionally a slower period from a recruitment perspective, so it is important to remain focused and motivated if you are looking to secure a new role. Keep in communication with your recruitment consultant if you are engaged in a process and be patient - processes can often take longer due to relevant stakeholders being away on annual leave. Considering this, summer can be a good time to focus on skill development, adding value to your CV through undertaking courses in areas such as systems or leadership.

Contributors to the South West recruitment update:

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