Recruiter SoapBox: Should we be advertising British jobs in the EU?

Recruiter soapbox

Last week it was revealed that 800,000 British jobs are being advertised to the EU through a website funded by the European Commission. Prominent recruitment specialist Mark Rainsbury stirs controversial waters and asks if this strategy works for the British economy.

 

“Nigel Farage reacted with predictable public outrage on hearing that 800,000 British jobs were being advertised in the EU. However, rather than just coming out with an angry sound bite, I’m debating why we sometimes need to recruit in EU countries.

First and foremost, I want British jobs to be advertised here in the UK, but the bottom line is that if you want to find the best talent for your organisation, then you have to cast your net wider and recruit beyond.

My own experiences as a recruiter back this up. I used to work for a global jewellery business, which has well-known brands in the UK, and recruited for watchmakers, which was a really niche role. Having exhausted every option when advertising in the UK, the business was at risk of losing well-known brands who were prepared to pull out of our stores if there were insufficient watchmakers. So I put together a recruitment plan covering Europe, which yielded some successes.

Similar to my own experience, technology companies (such as Facebook) are desperate to recruit in the UK, but are finding the talent pool too small and are having to look further afield and into Europe to bring in individuals who can help them to fulfil their business needs in the immediate term.

I network with a lot of local small businesses and worryingly, business owners are telling me they’re struggling to find specialist candidates, fill roles and retain talent in areas ranging from drainage and plumbing to all things IT related.

So it’s not always a question of going to Europe to get cheaper labour, it’s more about plugging a skills gap within certain industries. Perhaps the biggest area for concern is the number of job vacancies within local job centres that remain unfilled as a result of this skills shortage. What are companies supposed to do? Leave their vacancies unfilled and hope that someone comes along to fill them? Or, do they take proactive action and cast their net wider? I know as a recruiter, that my brief from a client is always to get the best candidate available for the role and if that means advertising in Europe, then that’s what I will do.

The long-term answer is always to grow your own talent through training and apprenticeships, but when the pressure is on to recruit for vacancies that need filling now, then you need to get creative and look outside of the UK.

The underlying issue is the need for structured training that carries the same weight as a university degree and good old fashioned vocational courses that get the next generation of job seekers up to speed with the needs of a new wave of technology businesses. So rather than have MPs come out with sound bites that give them media coverage, we need to look closer at the statistics, understand where the skill gaps are within the UK employment market and come up with an action plan to do something positive about redressing the skills shortage, with a short, mid-term and long-term plan rather than simply playing to the media or trying to score political points. Or is that just too simple?”

 

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