You could be forgiven for thinking that the UK employment market is a disaster judging by mounting job losses and workplace closures announced over the last year or so. Even recent figures published are being treated with scepticism, with many commentators seeing them as merely a blip on an otherwise upward trend. Other than the headline job cuts, it is entirely possible that employment has stabilised partly through companies holding on to staff during the bad times in the expectation that things will get better.
However, in a large number of cases, the payoff for remaining in employment has been reduced hours and pay freezes, if not pay cuts. Even more worryingly, given the impending pensions crisis and the fact that most people will have to work well past the age at which their parents retired, is the dramatic rise in the number of over 50s out of work; 30% more over 50s were out of work by the end of 2009 compared to a year previously, while the number of over 50s out of work for between six and twelve months had risen by 126%.
As with any recession, the major job cuts are borne by the multi-nationals whose immediate panic reaction to placate their investors is to cut costs. Small firms are acknowledged as important job creators (c84% of all new posts across the EU were created by small companies between 2002 and 2007), but most importantly they are in a position to react quickly and positively to improvements in the economic outlook. One area that will undoubtedly require addressing is recruitment to support any growth, but with so many people looking for work, businesses are overwhelmed by the volume of response to their job adverts, particularly as only a small number of applicants will actually have the right skills.
The true value of an executive recruitment agency is in being able to supply a high quality shortlist of correctly skilled candidates for a cost that, in terms of time and money, is only slightly more than doing it yourself.