More than three-quarters (78 per cent) of HR professionals said their organisation has struggled to recruit suitably skilled staff over the past year, according to research from the CIPD.

The 2015 CIPD/Hays Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey (R&TP) also showed that a similar proportion (77 per cent) has problems retaining staff.

Compared with results from previous R&TP surveys, respondents said all types of role were now more difficult to fill, with managers, specialists and technical staff vacancies the most difficult to fill. Recruiters said that finding candidates with specialist or technical skills topped their list of challenges.

The research suggests that the strengthened jobs market is partly responsible, with 82 per cent of respondents either agreeing or strongly agreeing that competition for well-qualified workers had ramped up during the past two years as organisations compete for key skills.

According to the report, 44 per cent of organisations expected their workforce to increase in 2015, which is consistent with the CIPD’s Spring 2015 Labour Market Outlook’s results that showed that 43 per cent of employers planned to increase their workforce that quarter.

The majority of employers (88 per cent) said they had an initiative in place to improve retention, with half of them using pay and reward incentives to encourage staff to stay.

A similar proportion (49 per cent) had improved their learning and development opportunities to convince people to stay.

However, employers still prefer hiring external talent over developing or promoting internal candidates, the research showed. Almost three-quarter (74 per cent) of respondents recruited key talent from outside the organisation, which represents a significant increase from the 2013 survey where 51 per cent of HR professionals used this approach.

Jessica Cooper, research advisor at the CIPD, said: “In the ‘make or buy’ debate, the ‘buy’ decision still seems to dominate investment in talent, but hiring new talent is just part of the solution for addressing skills shortages. Once people are in a role, they still require ongoing development to achieve their full potential and meet ever-changing and critical skills needs.”

Hayley Kirton CIPD

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