Fruit and veg farmers facing migrant labour shortages

UK summer fruit and salad growers are having difficulty recruiting pickers, with more than half saying they don’t know if they will have enough migrant workers to harvest their crops.

Many growers blame the weak pound which has reduced their workers’ earning power, as well as uncertainty over Brexit, according to a BBC survey.

About 80,000 seasonal workers a year pick and process British fruit and veg.

Most of them are from the European Union, mainly Romania and Bulgaria.

One in five growers says they already have fewer pickers than they need.

British Summer Fruits, the body which represents soft fruit growers, says labour shortages are now the worst seen since 2004.

Recruitment was getting harder even before the vote to leave the EU. But the industry believes Brexit is exacerbating the problem and if access to non-UK workers dries up, it could cripple home-grown berry production.

Big response

Their concern is backed up by an in-depth survey of growers by the BBC.

The questionnaire was sent to members of the British Leafy Salad Association and British Summer Fruits, which represent 90{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of growers in their sector.

There was a big response. Three-quarters of growers completed the survey, which was carried out between 16 May and 5 June, as harvesting started to peak.

We asked if they had enough seasonal workers for the start of the main picking season:

 32{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} said they weren’t sure
 18{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} said they had slightly fewer than they needed
 Just over 3{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} reported having many fewer than required
 42{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} said they had just enough
 1{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} said they had more than enough

Meanwhile, 78{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of respondents said recruitment had been more difficult than last year, with 20{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} saying it had been the hardest for years.

Easter Bank Holiday Opening Hours

With the first Bank Holiday fast approaching, please see below our office opening hours

Good Friday 14th April 2017 – CLOSED

Bank Holiday Monday 17th April 2017 – CLOSED

Tuesday 18th April 2017 – Normal Opening Hours

Please note, although our offices are shut over the Easter Break, our consultants are still contactable on their mobile numbers, so please do not hesitate to contact them in the event of your requiring additional labour support, due to short notice absences or sickness cover of your own employees.

In the meantime we wish everyone a Happy Easter

The Triggering of Article 50 – The impact to HR and to which sectors

With EU President Donald Tusk having received official notice of the UK’s plan to leave the European Union, HR Executives have weighed in on how they feel about the impending divorce.

With uncertainty surrounding issues such as worker rights and data protection, HR departments will be relieved to find that, throughout, the two-year negotiation process, these areas will be bound by EU law and thus protected.

And for companies who have significant numbers of EU staff, workers from the European Economic Area will continue to have the right to work and live in Britain over the next 24 months.

Prime Minister Theresa May has also stated she does not plan to overhaul worker’s rights that are currently derived from EU law

She said: “Existing workers’ legal rights will continue to be guaranteed in law and they will be guaranteed as long as I am Prime Minister.”

Despite the problems posed by turning EU law into UK equivalents – changes that will form part of a Great Repeal Bill – more than half of HR Executives believe that Brexit will not create a fundamental challenge.

A recent survey has shown that 59{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of the HR Executives surveyed in the UK say Brexit is a normal disruption – like those encountered in the usual course of business.

The survey also found that 36{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of companies have plans to attract and retain EU nationals – putting this facet of business higher up their priorities list. Furthermore it tells us that more companies are now seeing Brexit in terms of yet another business disruption that has to be navigated and their message to staff is business as usual.”

However despite the recent results the official triggering of Article 50 has led to even more debate around the implications of Brexit.

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has come out and said that their industry, which is already victim to high turnover, a skills shortage and overreliance on EU workers, is looking at a shortfall of 600,000 workers a year if post-Brexit European Union immigration is too tight.

A report for the BHA by KPMG, which has been sent to 10 Downing Street, found that it will take a decade to reduce the requirement for EU workers by training UK staff. Currently, the sector comprises a tenth of the British economic wealth and is made up of three million workers.

As it stands, the Government isn’t revealing their Brexit strategy which is causing some concern with not only to the construction industry but to other industries like catering and hospitality whereby a big issue right now is a shortage of chefs. at present there are more roles to fill than candidates to fill them.

Depending on the deal that is struck with the EU regarding movement of labour, it could mean that industries will look to attract candidates from markets like Brazil, India, Commonwealth countries and wider a field.

It is now case of waiting to see what the next steps the Government will take and to see what will unravel over the coming months and what impact triggering Article 50 will have.

Insight into the UK’s Salaries

Latest report have shown that salaries had risen in December of last year, despite it usually being a quiet month for recruitment and pay increases.

In light of this we have provided an overview of what the overall UK salaries in the UK look like and includes the following data:

•The regions with the highest – and lowest – salaries
•The job titles with the highest – and lowest – salaries
•Industries, job roles, and genders that pay below the National Minimum Wage

National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

The National Minimum Wage is the minimum amount of money per hour that workers are entitled to be paid. The National Living Wage was introduced by the government in April 2016 for over 25s.

Current National Minimum Wage (NMW) per hour
•Apprentice: £3.40
•Under 18s: £4
•18-20: £5.55
•21-24: £6.95

National (NLW) per hour
• 25 and over: £7.20

People with part-time jobs are more likely not to be paid the NMW or NLW

In October 2016, the Office for National Statistics revealed that 362,000 jobs pay less than the NMW or NLW to employees 16 or over – that’s 1.3{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of UK jobs.

This is divided into 2.4{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of part-time jobs and 0.9{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of full-time jobs. (Data taken from April of that year).
People aged 18-20 are most likely to be paid less than the NMW or NLW

Of the 362,000 jobs paying less than the NMW or NLW:
•2.1{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of jobs for 18-20 year olds pay under
•1.4{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of jobs for 21-24 year olds pay under
•1.3{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} pf jobs for people 25 and over pay under

Women are more likely to be paid less than the NMW or NLW

•1.7{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of all jobs worked by women pay less than the minimum wage; contrasted with just 1{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of jobs worked by men. That’s 230,000 jobs contrasted with 132,000.
•1.1{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of full-time jobs worked by women pay under the minimum wage; contrasted with just 0.7{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of full-time jobs worked by men. That’s 90,000 jobs contrasted with 88,000.
•2.4{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of part-time jobs worked by women pay under the minimum wage; contrasted with 2.3{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of part-time jobs worked by men. That’s 140,000 jobs contrasted with 44,000.
Workers in the West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber are most likely to be paid less than the NMW or NLW
•1.7{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of jobs in the West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber pay less than the minimum wage -equating to 40,000 and 38,000 jobs respectively.
•London (0.9{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6}) and Scotland (1{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6}) top the least-likely regions to pay less than the minimum wage, equating to 35,000 and 25,000 jobs respectively.
•Hairdressing and childcare are most likely to pay below NMW or NLW
•7{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of hairdressing jobs pay below the NMW – equating to 8,000 jobs.
•4{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of childcare jobs pay below the NMW – equating to 9,000 jobs.

Salaries and job titles

In a recent article, the Independent revealed the highest paid jobs of 2016. And the results?

The top five best paid jobs comprised of:
1.Chief executives and senior officials – £85.3K per year.
2.Pilots and flight engineers – £85K per year.
3.Air traffic controllers – £80K per year.
4.Transport Associate professionals – £75.5K per year.
5.Marketing and sales professionals – £70K per year.

And the top five worst paid jobs? Business Insider UK reported.

1.Waiting staff – £266.40 per week – £13,852.80 per year.
2.Theme Park Attendants – £273.30 per week – £14,211.60 per year.
3.Bar staff — £274.00 per week – £14,248 per year.
4.Hairdressers and barbers — £274.10 per week – £14,253.20 per year
5.Dry cleaner — £275.40 per week – £14,320.80 per year.

Salaries and regions

The average salary of UK regions is detailed below, ordered from highest to lowest*

Weekly: £544.02
Annual: £ 28,289.30

Greater South East
Weekly: £531.89
Annual: £27,658.25

South West
Weekly: £500.38
Annual: £26,019.93

East Midlands
Weekly: £478.86
Annual: £24,900.72

West Midlands
Weekly: £474.125
Annual: £24,654.50

North East
Weekly: £461.90
Annual: £24,013.60

North West
Weekly: £458.18
Annual: £23825.24

Weekly: £454.13
Annual: £23614.93

Weekly: £453.37
Annual: £23,575.07

Northern Ireland
Weekly: £448.10
Annual: £23,301.20


•The region with the highest average salary in the UK is Scotland, at £28,289.30 per annum.
•The region with the lowest average salary in the UK is Northern Ireland, at £23,301.20.
•There is a difference of £4,988.10 between the average salary of the highest paid region and the lowest paid.
•Based on the below data, the average UK salary is £24,985.27 – the closest region to this is the East Midlands at an annual salary of £24,900.72.

Budget 2017 Overview

Philip Hammond used his first and last Spring Budget to set out how the Government will build the foundations of a “stronger, fairer, more global Britain”.

He said even before taking to the floor that the Treasury’s priority would be to make sure “our economy is resilient, that we’ve got reserves in the tank” as the Government prepares to enter Brexit negotiations with EU.

Addressing a packed House of Commons, Hammond announced tax rises to meet some of the his spending commitments, instead of increase borrowing, in what was a fiscally neutral Budget.

Below are some of the key points raised in todays budget:

Personal Taxation

The main rate of Class 4 National Insurance contributions for the self-employed to increase from 9{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} to 10{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} in April 2018 and 11{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} in April 2019

The new rate, applying to earnings below £43,000, will raise £145m a year by 2021-22 at an average cost of 60p a week to those affected

All earnings above £43,000 will be taxed at 2{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6}

Class 2 National Insurance contributions, also paid by the self-employed, to be scrapped

No changes to National Insurance paid by the employed and employers or to income tax or VAT

Personal tax-free allowance to rise as planned to £11,500 this year and to £12,500 by 2020


£435m for firms affected by increases in business rates, including £300m hardship fund for worst hit

Pubs with rateable value of less than £100,000 to get a £1,000 discount on rates they would have paid

Rate rises for businesses losing existing relief will be capped at £50 a month

A tax avoidance clampdown totalling £820m to include action to stop businesses converting capital losses into trading losses and introduction of UK VAT on roaming telecoms services outside the EU

Public borrowing/deficit/spending

Annual borrowing £51.7bn in 2016-17, £16.4bn lower than forecast

Borrowing forecast to total £58.3bn in 2017-18, £40.6bn in 2018-19, £21.4bn in 2019-20 and £20.6bn in 2020-21

Public sector net borrowing forecast to fall from 3.8{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of GDP last year to 2.6{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} this year, then 2.9{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6}, 1.9{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6}, 1{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} and 0.9{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} in subsequent years, reaching 0.7{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} in 2021-22. But borrowing still predicted to be £100bn higher by 2020 than forecast in March 2016

Debt rose to 86.6{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} this year, but will fall to 79.8{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} in 2021-22

Alcohol, tobacco, gambling and fuel

No increases in alcohol or tobacco duties on top of those previously announced

A new minimum excise duty on cigarettes based on a packet price of £7.35

Tobacco will rise by 2{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} above Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation, with a packet of 20 cigarettes costing 35p more

Duty on beer, cider, wine and spirits will increase in line with RPI inflation

This will equate to 2p on a pint of beer, 1p on a pint of cider, 36p on a bottle of whisky and 32p on a bottle of gin

Vehicle excise duty rates for hauliers and the HGV Road User Levy frozen for another year

Pensions and savings

Reduction in tax-free dividend allowance for shareholders and directors of small private firms from £5,000 to £2,000

The measure will come into force in April 2018, raising £2.63bn by 2021-2022

Measures to tackle abuse of overseas pension schemes


£300m to support 1,000 new PhD places and fellowships in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects

Free school transport extended to all children on free school meals who attend a selective school

Upgrade fund of £216m for existing schools

Funding for 110 new free schools and grammar schools

New T-Levels to be introduced to give parity of esteem for technical education

Number of hours of training for technical students aged 16 to 19 increased by more than 50{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6}, including a high-quality, three-month work placement


Transport spending of £90m for the north of England and £23m for the Midlands to address pinch points on roads

£690 million competition fund for English councils to tackle urban congestion

£270m for new technologies such as robots and driverless vehicles

£16m for 5G mobile technology and £200m for local broadband networks

£250m in funding for Scottish Government, £200m for Welsh Government and £120m for Northern Ireland Executive

Health and social care

£100m to place more GPs in accident and emergency departments for next winter

Additional £325m to allow the first NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans to proceed

An extra £2bn for social care over next three years, with £1bn available in the next year

Long-term funding options to be considered but so-called “death tax” on estates ruled out

Most sugary soft drinks to be taxed at 24p per litre as part of plans to reduce childhood obesity


New funding totalling £20m to support the campaign against violence against women and girls

A further £5m committed to project to celebrate the centenary of women first getting the vote, and to educate young people about its significance

Funding of £5m to support people returning to work after a career break


The main topic of discussion over Philip Hammonds budget was in relation to the broken promise surrounding the conservatives 2015 manifesto pledge on NI contributions, whereby they explicitly ruled out rises in National Insurance, VAT and income tax during the lifetime of the current Parliament.

Based on yesterdays announcement it has resulted in 1.6 million people paying £240 on average more every year, with the chancellor stating that lower earning self-employed people would be better off, and the new system fairer.

Wednesday’s changes would see the 9{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} rate of Class 4 National Insurance contributions currently paid by those self-employed people earning between £8,060 and £43,000 go up to 10{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} in April 2018 and to 11{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} in April 2019

Justifying the move – which is set to raise £145m – the chancellor said there had been a “dramatic increase” in the number of self-employed workers and the current difference in NI rates paid by the self-employed and employees “undermines” the fairness of the tax system.

Last night saw ministers defended the chancellors actions by stating that legislation enshrining the manifesto commitment in law – approved by Parliament in 2015 – only referred to national insurance contributions paid directly by employers and their employees.

A much debated topic of discussion which will no doubt continue for the coming days ahead

The next Budget will take place in the autumn to provide more time ahead of the new tax year in April.

A Spring Statement will be used to respond to the twice-yearly OBR report but Hammond has promised “no major fiscal changes” next spring.

Predictions of an unprecedented labour shortage looms

The impact of Brexit and the ageing population on the UK’s employment market is the focus of a newly published report, which is describes a ‘wake-up call’ is needed for UK employers amid predictions of an ‘unprecedented labour shortage’.

If Brexit leads to a fall in the availability of migrant workers, the report predicts that the ‘inability’ of UK employers to hire in specific sectors could be significant. Even without Brexit, sectors such as engineering will struggle to meet demand.

Industries relying on seasonal workers, such as agriculture have already raised concerns over their ability to recruit sufficient staff numbers and the reluctance of UK born workers to apply for jobs in the industry.

This comes at a time when online job searches from Eastern Europe for health and social care jobs fell by a reported 17{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} after last year’s referendum vote. The extent of the reliance on EU migrant workers was reflected in the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). From July to September 2016, the number of non-UK born people working in Britain rose by 430,000 – over 10 times more than the rise in the number of UK employees.

Brexit isn’t the only wake-up call for all HR Managers. The following workforce trends have also emerged in the past week:-

Rising salaries:

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) latest Report On Jobs found that starting salaries for permanent positions grew at their fastest pace for 9 months in January with demand for staff at a 17 month high. The industry body also expressed concern over the struggle to fill vacancies that employers will face if immigration controls are tightened.  

Unhappy employees:

New data has revealed that the UK started this year with the 4th largest global job search spike – an increase of two thirds compared to the same time last year. Tech vacancies accounted for three out of the five most searched for positions. HR must take action now to implement effective long-term employee engagement strategies. Creating a formal wellbeing strategy is central to achieving that goal.

Bad hiring decisions are costly:

Research shows the financial cost of making poor hiring decisions. UK businesses are losing up to £15,000 as a result of unsuccessful recruitment. UK employers are failing to vet candidates properly and don’t take recruitment trends such as the use of anonymised CVs into account when formalising hiring strategies. Without HR technology, accurately assessing the cost of hire or identifying roadblocks in your recruitment process is a challenge.  
Wake up to the emerging UK workforce crisis

The ‘emerging UK workforce crisis’ can no longer be ignored by HR. The following additional strategies are also recommended:-

Forget short-termism:

A new report has found that companies with a long term approach added nearly 12,000 more jobs on average compared to those that didn’t between 2001-2015. Employers keen to source and retain skilled professionals in the next few years should adopt a pro-active strategy based on ‘long-termism’ now, rather than continue with a reactive stance that is failing to engage and retain your workforce.

Champion your older workers :

A million more older people in the workforce by 2022 has been called for by the government’s Business Champion For Older Workers. It has challenged all employers to increase the number of their employees between the ages of 50-69 by 12{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} in the next five years. It also noted that by 2022 there will be 14.5 million more jobs but only 7 million young people entering the labour market. Introducing options such as flexible working, an inclusive recruitment process and directing older workers to career development rather than retirement will support this policy.  

Now is the time to wake up and shake up your recruitment process to ensure you hire better people faster.

Legal Changes & Statutory Rates for 2017

National Minimum Wage / National Living Wage

The tables on this page provide you with details of the minimum wage rates that all of your workers are entitled to.

National Minimum Wage

Type of PaymentFrom April 2017
Workers aged 25 and over (minimum rate per hour)£7.50
Workers aged 21 and over (minimum rate per hour)£7.05
Workers aged 18-20 (minimum rate per hour)£5.60
Workers aged under 16 and 17 (minimum rate per hour)£4.05
Apprentices under 19 (or aged 19 and over in the first year of their apprenticeship)£3.50

The Government has announced that, from April 2017, the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage will both be changed annually, in April.

APRIL TBC: Increase statutory rates (subject to confirmation)
In April, Statutory Maternity/ Paternity/Adoption/Shared Parental pay are all due to increase from £139.58 per week to £140.98 per week.

Statutory Sick Pay is due to increase from per week £88.45 to £89.35 per week.

APRIL 6: Gender Pay Gap Reporting
Employers in the private sector with 250 or more ‘employees’ will be required to report on the differences in pay between male and female employees for the reporting period starting 6 April 2017 and ending 5 April 2018, and annually thereafter. Reports must be published by the end of the reporting period. Recruiters that supply temporary workers should note that they must include their temporary workers (who are engaged on contracts under which they provide their services personally), when assessing whether they meet the 250 employee threshold, and they must include data for those temporary workers in their report.

APRIL 6: Apprenticeship levy
6 April will see the commencement of the apprenticeship levy for all employers with a pay bill in excess of £3 million per year. The levy will be charged at 0.5{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of the pay bill but employers will receive a £15,000 allowance to offset against their payments.

Note that the levy takes into account the entire pay bill, including pay for an agencies temporary workers. See here for more details.

Top five sectors for high growth in 2017

Last year saw some dramatic changes in the world. The UK’s vote for Brexit and the US voting for Donald Trump indicated a huge shift towards populist voting and a rejection of the establishment and globalisation. With general election in France, Netherlands and Germany in 2017 its difficult to predict what the future will hold.

The future is impossible to predict, but here is a list of sectors in which we envisage high growth in 2017.

No. 5 Accounting & Finance

In any economic downturn the demand for accountants and company financial experts rises. That’s my experience and whilst I doubt we will have a recession in 2017, there is no doubt going to be some economic challenges and a shift in corporate dynamics in the next few years to the end of the decade.

Brexit will require large numbers of businesses to make changes to their business and accounting practices. There will be further examination of cost and profit models that businesses operate. This is against the backdrop of rising long term demand for accountants which is caused by the large numbers of baby-boomer accountants retiring from business and more especially in the public sector where there is a small crisis developing.

Finally the other market factor, which is fuelling the rising demand for corporate IPO and finance experts, is caused by the attractiveness of UK businesses to foreign investment. The 15{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} reduction in the value of the pound post Brexit has suddenly seen a rise in foreign interest in UK companies. The number of mergers and acquisitions are set to rise in 2017 and this will fuel the demand for individuals with corporate finance expertise in this arena.

No. 4 Oil, Gas and Energy

This sector has seen a downturn in the previous years projections but with the UK Government endorsement of the Hinkley Point C and Wylva Nuclear Power Stations projects plus the OPEC agreement with Non-OPEC countries to limit production also seeing an oil price rise there is a renewed confidence in many parts of the industry. The magic number is $70 a barrel above which the major oil exploration companies feel confident to speculate on developing potential fields.

In 2017 we expect the $70 a barrel level to be achieved but even before that we are already seeing some RFIs and tenders coming out by firms speculating on an up turn and looking to take advantage of the excess capacity in the industry and hopefully achieve some good sub-contract rates. With this in mind this we believe there will be a healthy rise in demand for people in this sector during Q3 and Q4 2017.

The significantly ageing workforce in Nuclear is likely to create a major skill-shortage here. Currently whilst demand for staff is high the large MSP contract providers that dominate this market are operating at margins that are almost unsustainable for SME agencies, especially when you factor in the cost of finance. It will be fascinating to see what will give first but as the public sector (education and NHS) have found you can’t buck the market for ever. This market seems ripe for niche recruiters to exploit these large skills gaps but we will have to see if this happens.

Our guess is that towards the end of 2017 we will see the dam burst and rates and margins rise as the fight for critical staff breaks out into all out war in some niche sectors.

No. 3 Construction

In 2016 we predicted this sector to rise and many recruitment businesses have seen solid growth this year but sadly not the levels we had all wished for. As we indicated the politics of releasing funds and capital flows to enable the huge growth in house building did not happen.

Sadly we do not see the seismic shift that is required in the financial markets to affect the large growth in private sector house building that is still required without a government policy shift.

Yes the government has committed £5 billion to boost the housing building but there is also the market factor that a huge growth in property completions will see prices stabilise if not fall and turkeys as they say don’t vote for Christmas and property developers and builders don’t vote for price falls either. The signs are encouraging in that there has been a growth in domestic building in Q3 but nowhere near the levels the government needs in order to achieve its target of 200,000 new builds a year.

The sectors skills gaps are well documented. In fact there is a fear that BREXIT will lead to thousands of EU nationals who have been plugging those gaps returning to mainland Europe leaving us under-resourced. It was reported in the Telegraph earlier this year that “Tony Pidgley, the chairman of house builder Berkeley homes has spoken out, warning of Brexit’s impact on construction workers, and pointed out that 50pc of his subcontractors are from Eastern Europe.”

This represents 23pc of workers in London. The article also claims that the construction sector needs to attract 500,000 new recruits in the next five years to plug the skill gap. Failure to achieve this will see house building drop from the 140,000 a year we are currently achieving to 100,000 a year and certainly nowhere the 200,000 a year the government wish to secure.

The significant number of infrastructure projects that the government has committed to since BREXIT (including New runway Heathrow, HS2 Phase Two) which were reinforced in the 2016 Autumn Statement, only goes to increase the demand for skills and ensures this will be a healthy sector in 2017.

No. 2 Engineering

The top two performing sectors are so consistently above the rest that it is hard to choose which represents the greatest growth opportunity. On balance we believe Engineering is in second place slightly behind IT and Technology.

The skills gaps in the engineering sector are massive and well documented. An ageing workforce of baby-boomers leaving between now and 2025 is creating a huge pressure on skills, which with the lack of STEM graduates over the past 10-15 years means the talent pool to replace them is woefully small and undersized.

To help you understand the scale of the problem research suggests that 182,000 additional workers are needed to plug engineering-focused graduate and apprentice positions every year until 2022. This is according to Engineering UK.

That’s over 1m more engineers.

According to Engineering UK; Currently the UK produces only 46,000 engineering graduates each year. There will also be demand for around 69,000 people qualified at advanced apprenticeship or equivalent level each year. Yet only around 27,000 UK apprentices a year currently qualify at the appropriate level.

Yes the numbers studying are growing and salaries are rising but the solution is that in the short term to plug this gap we will continue to import engineers from the rest of the world.

So are we surprised that one of the UK’s most famous engineers, Sir James Dyson, is looking to secure his own future talent pipeline by investing £15m over the next five years to secure his need to double his workforce to 6,000 by 2020 in his new Dyson Institute of Technology.

No. 1 IT and Technology

This sector has consistently been our number one for three out of the last four years. Our reason for this is simple.

IT and Technology faces all the demographic issues and supply and demand factors that the other sectors are grappling with.

Yes IT and Technology has an ageing workforce, Yes, the insatiable thirst for experts is never ceasing but the greatest impact is the rate of technological change and advance plus the globalisation of demand.

This is not a UK problem or a Western World or US problem it is a global wide problem.

In most markets many executives and business owners have not comprehended the scale or rate of advancement of technology change and how it could make their multi-million pound businesses obsolete overnight!

You have only to look at how disruptive business models that use technology or businesses that fail to keep up can fall from a market leading position to relative obscurity in 3-5 years to understand what is at stake.

Look at Novell Networks, in 1996 they were the provider of the worlds largest networking software by 2000 Windows NT had taken over their market position and Nokia have failed to recapture that since.

Between 1995-2000 Nokia were the worlds largest supplier of mobile phones today where are they ranked? According to WhatTechSays they don’t even make the top 10.

What about Blackberry? 2000-2005 everyone wanted one where are they today?

What about Amazon? Uber? Google? AirBnB? Spotify? Netflix? All of which are the disruptive models of today and considered by many to be “Rising Stars” or even “Cash Cows” if you apply the Boston Matrix.

But where will they be tomorrow?

Who is next to fall from grace?

So we can see how important technology is.

Take Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and robotics. The total effect of these three advances alone is predicted to transform the world of work in the next 5-10 years. Many jobs that rely on the processing of data and simple decision-making are set to become redundant. At the same time the growth in demand for the technologists that will enable this change is set to explode over the next 2-3 years.

In the US the prediction is 6{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of all jobs will go. “By 2021 a disruptive tidal wave will begin. Solutions powered by AI/cognitive technology will displace jobs, with the biggest impact felt in transportation, logistics and consumer services,” said Forrester’s Brian Hopkins in a recent US Government report on the issue.

Business Intelligence is already a high growth niche and Data Science is rapidly catching up. The growth in demand for cloud architects and engineers, who will design the infrastructure as a service (IAS) and platform as a service (PAS), are tipped to accelerate rapidly, as is the demand for the developers who will develop the applications. Algorithm experts that support rule based AI is a key skill that is being included in many job specs and you can expect this to grow exponentially over the next 3-5 years.

If you are considering IT and Technology as sector to move into or making further planned growth then this is invaluable source of data and foresight.

As our world is set to be transformed, the jury is still out as to whether there will be a net increase in jobs or a reduction. The scaremongers seem keen to spread fear but are they right? Perhaps if it helps people wake up to the change in reality but history tells us otherwise.

We have been here before in the 19th century before the industrial revolution.

In the Pre-Victorian era, millions of people worked in agriculture. Automation arrived and allowed people to move off the land and into cities heralding in a whole new generation of jobs being created in offices,factories, businesses and retail as the factories made a new range of goods, jobs were created constructing buildings and infrastructure as well as roles in merchandising and the selling the goods that were manufactured.

In the 1960s and 70s we were told that the ‘microprocessor’ and computers was going to make thousands of jobs redundant. In 1982 as a young undergraduate working for ICI Plc. in Runcorn I built a prototype freight forwarding pricing system. The concept was proven and implemented by ICI in 1984 and 100-150 booking clerk jobs were made redundant. In the 1980s this happened in thousands of companies across Britain. Yes those roles were lost forever but thousands of others were created employment in the UK today is nearly 8m higher than in 1985 and the percentage of people of working age in employment at its highest at 75{e85120a690986c003b28f85c6b4de0e089ccbb3c964777e8593c25d2056b3cf6} of the working population.

We are about to enter another period of dynamic change and there are going to be huge winners and losers.

ARC Reports Progress with Government on Apprenticeship Levy

In November, last year the Association of Recruitment Consultancies (ARC) instructed its lawyers to raise questions to the government about fairness in how the levy is to apply to agencies who supply agency workers.

ARC is now pleased to report that in its reply received in December, HMRC agreed that key officials responsible for the delivery of the levy would meet with ARC representatives to discuss the issues.

Adrian Marlowe, Chairman of ARC, reports

“On 12th January we met with a senior government team, two representatives from HM Treasury, the HMRC lead official and the lead official tasked with ensuring the levy is ready for launch by April 2017. Clearly the government is concerned to ensure that the levy is fit for purpose and wants to address issues that arise. There is an anomaly as it attaches to the payroll of supplied agency workers, so creating a disproportionate consequence, but other sectors are also affected. We used the opportunity to present a plan for a fairer and more efficient Apprenticeship Levy that we have devised with members over the last two months. This builds on the work already done by the government, and the senior officials we met with were keen to hear our proposal.

“This plan, if accepted, would not only allow agencies the benefit of the allowance on their own internal staff payroll entirely independently of the agency worker payroll, but would result in a uniform levy that could be charged on to the hiring client transparently, where the agency feels it appropriate to do so.”

ARC believes that its proposal is innovative and comprehensive.

“The plan is designed to meet all the objectives of the original government consultation and support the government’s initiative, yet protect agencies from being disproportionately affected.” says Marlowe.

“Since the meeting, subsequently described by the government levy lead as ‘helpful’, we are exchanging notes with the levy lead, and shall be reviewing the detail of the proposal in conjunction with the various departments involved. We shall report further on this ongoing dialogue as it evolves.

“It is clear that the government has set itself quite a challenge and is working hard to deliver the levy in its current form with little scope for early change. However, we remain keen to see our proposals adopted at the earliest possible moment since the current position will, amongst other things, prohibit hirers from using the agency worker levy funds they may have contributed to.”

SureStaffing UK Recruits 5,000th Candidate

We are delighted to announce that today [26 November] we reached an important milestone here at SureStaffing UK, welcoming the 5,000th candidate to register via our online platform.

The lucky candidate is a 25 year old forklift truck driver from the West Midlands – he receives a bottle of champagne as a prize.

There are always plenty of jobs available via Hundreds of current customers trust our recruiting team to confidentially contact candidates ready for their next career move at locations up, down and across the UK.

Charles Draper, SureStaffing UK’s Managing Director, said: “By using our innovative service, we can help organisations by easily identifying the best talent for their vacant roles, and moreover we contact the candidates directly in order to convince them they are offering the right role for their career development. On the other hand, the candidates know that with SureStaffing UK they have a professional and discreet career team to rely on.”

Chris Rice, from Nigel Rice Transport, said: “The candidates that SureStaffing UK have supplied to us have always been first class. They offer a great service. 5,000 candidates is an incredible achievement when you consider the rigorous vetting processes that SureStaffing UK goes through to recruit and select the right candidates. If you are looking for good quality people who make a difference to your business, this is the company to speak with.”

From management and office staff to professionally trained tradespeople and manual workers, SureStaffing UK’s huge database of contacts means that the right candidate is never far away.