• Record number of people in work, job figures reveal
    12 December 2012

    A record number of people are now in work after the biggest fall in unemployment for over a decade, according to the latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) employment figures released today.

    Jobcentre Plus

    The jobless total fell by 82,000 in the three months to October to 2.51 million, down by 128,000 on a year ago.

    The ONS said it was the biggest quarterly fall since April 2011.

    Employment jumped by 40,000 to 29.6 million, the highest figures since records began in 1971 and up by half a million on the same period last year.

    There was a drop in youth employment as the ONS said unemployed 16-24 year olds fell by 72,000 to 945,000 in the three months to October.

    Employment in the public sector fell for the 12th consecutive month, dropping 24,000 to 5.7 million, which was outstripped by a 65,000 rise in private sector employment to 23.8 million.

    Private sector employment rose by 65,000 in the latest quarter to 23.8 million, the highest on record.

    Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) chief executive Kevin Green said: "We have record levels of employment in this country and the jobs market has continued to improve in the last quarter of 2012. Doom and gloom merchants should focus on the positive rather than risk talking us back into recession."

    Green added: "The economy as a whole is still fragile but it's the flexibility within our labour market, people at all levels of the workforce willing to take on temporary contracts, project work and part time roles that has meant we haven't seen the levels of unemployment experienced on the continent."

    HR Magazine

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  • Apprenticeships should be seen as equal to a degree
    27 November 2012

    More teenagers should be encouraged to take work-based apprenticeships as an alternative to university, according to a review by entrepreneur Doug Richard.

    The review, published today, said the previous Government's target to push half of school leavers into university had resulted in an "unthinking collective belief" that a degree "offers an indication of greater capability which it does not, in fact, confer".


    He said that a successful overhaul of the system should be made to enable 18-year-olds to turn down "a place at Oxbridge to take up an apprenticeship if that is the right path for them".

    Entrepreneur Doug Richard was asked by Business Secretary Vince Cable and Education Secretary Michael Gove to consider the future of apprenticeships in England.

    The review also found that apprenticeships in England should last a year and genuinely train someone in a new role.

    In his review, Richards, said: "There is real value in an apprenticeship lasting for a year or more. Apprenticeships measured in weeks or months, even if it is enough time to teach the required material and gain the requisite experience, can still fall short.

    "It is as though the apprenticeship experience itself requires time to bed in and for the individual to transform from an apprentice to a skilled worker. We should afford our apprentices that time."

    Richard also said: "Apprenticeships or the notion of them are popular", but that this has led to many things being called apprenticeships, which, in fact, are not.

    "Simply enough, not all instances of training on a job are apprenticeships," he says.

    They "require a new job role, a role that is new to the individual and requires them to learn a substantial amount before they can do that job effectively," he said.

    As a consequence, he says, the nation risks losing sight of the core features of what makes apprenticeships work.

    He adds that while the knowledge required for a job could be covered in a shorter period of time, it took time for "the individual to transform from an apprentice to a skilled worker".

    This comes after numerous complaints that some agencies and businesses have been offering low grade apprenticeships that only last for a few weeks or even months, in exchange for cheap labour and government funding.

    Doug Holt, CEO of jewellery company Holts Group, who led a review earlier this year on the value of apprenticeships to SMEs, told HR magazine: "Doug's strategy is a vision - relying on employers to get involved and take ownership. This must be right."

    "It will take time to change small business culture towards training - with my caution on needing to engage SMEs."

    "However, I believe Doug is spot on and these changes taken as a whole have the potential to make that paradigm shift I referred to in my review - when one day, recruiting an apprentice becomes a simple and natural part of growing an SME business, and joining an SME as an apprentice becomes a coveted springboard for many starting their careers."

    He added: "At the moment there is definitely a stigma when it comes to apprenticeships over degrees and that has to change."

    "We've got to help change a whole generations views that apprenticeships aren't worth what a degree is and replace it with reality."

    "If apprenticeships can be shown to create real value then businesses can own the system and pay the providers."

    Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment and skills policy, said: "Business will welcome this report. We agree that apprenticeships should be a route to a great career. They also ensure business builds the right skills to drive economic growth."

    "Businesses are best placed to understand their own training needs, so it's right that employers should have a greater say in apprenticeship design and which training is funded. By putting employers in the driving seat, we can ensure that government funding for training is more closely aligned with the needs of industry and future job creation."

    "To make sure that all firms can access the training they need, it's rightly recognised that we need a simple, accessible funding system, and businesses will welcome the idea of a skills tax credit."

    HR Magazine

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  • Universal Jobmatch goes live
    22 November 2012

    This week finally saw the launch of the Department for Work and Pensions' Universal Jobmatch system.

    Universal Jobmatch

    Universal Jobmatch (UJ) replaces the current vacancy management services, Employer Direct and Employer Direct Online for companies, and the Jobcentre Plus job search tool for jobseekers. The enhanced service provides multiple benefits for employers, jobseekers and their JCP advisers.

    Jobseekers will be able to:

  • create an online CV or upload one they already have;
  • make their CV searchable by registered employers;
  • search for jobs and run saved searches;
  • apply for jobs;
  • get email alerts when companies post jobs that match their CV.
  • Jobseekers can also include details of their availability, distance they can travel etc as well as considerations such as childcare on their account to help employers understand their needs. A record of the jobs they've applied for via UJ will be held in the jobseeker's account, so they can discuss them with their Jobcentre Plus adviser, reducing the burden on them to keep an evidence sheet or other record often requested by JCP. If the jobseeker gives their permission, their JCP adviser will be able to save jobs for them to apply for, and there is also the function for jobseekers to document why they don't to want to apply for particular job. At the time of writing this article, the system doesn't seem to be recording vacancies viewed within the Activity History, so it appears that full functionality may need a bit of tweaking!

    Employers who register for the Universal Jobmatch service are able to:

  • post jobs online;
  • access a list of suitable jobseekers using the service, automatically matched by CV and skills;
  • review the matched jobseekers and select those they want to apply.
  • For those individuals who are concerned about employers having access to lots of personal information, this is not going to be the case. Any CV the jobseeker uploads needs to be made public for an employer to see it. Private CVs are not searchable. Personal information will not be shared with an employer until the jobseeker responds to them via a personal message in their UJ account.

    In support of the transparency agenda, you will find public reports available regarding Universal Jobmatch. The reports cover such subjects as the number of new jobseeker accounts, new CVs uploaded, number of employers, number of live jobs etc.

    These reports can be accessed by anyone using the link at the bottom of the UJ log in screen.

    DWP have produced a quick guide and Q&A document relating to UJ. Anyone supporting jobseekers into employment should familiarise themselves with the system to help their clients get the best out of it. UJ is actually not easy to find on the new gov.uk website so the links are as follows:

    Jobseekers can access UJ by visiting: www.gov.uk/jobs-jobsearch.

    Employers can access UJ by visiting: www.gov.uk/advertise-job.

    UJ is very similar to aspects of software systems already being successfully used by Work Programme providers, such as Kaonix Welfare2Work and vacancy-match systems and MyWorkSearch, which have proved very successful. These commercial systems not only search JCP's job database but also a massive range of other jobsearch sites to provide a one-stop-shop of vacancies, streamlining the jobsearch experience and ensuring jobseekers spend more time in applying for jobs than in seeking out vacancies. These systems can also be tailored to individual company needs, so if you are in the business of supporting jobseekers into work then check them out.

    Click through to the main article to see some interesting comments and advice regarding ease of use for jobseekers.

    w2w Solutions

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  • Workplace lags technology, says minister
    08 November 2012

    Employers have not kept up to date with technology and have created a skills gap that is affecting employment, according to Jo Swinson, minister for employment relations and consumer affairs.Jo Swinson

    Swinson was speaking at the CIPD conference in Manchester, on a panel, which also included HR director of O2, Anne Pickering, CEO of the UK commission for employment, Michael Davis, and Toby Peyton-Jones, HR director at Siemens UK and North West Europe.

    Swinson said: "Employers must be more innovative and offer benefits such as flexible working because the workplace of today hasn't kept pace with technology and some employers are out of date.

    Young people are not getting the right advice when applying for jobs, we need to offer them more support and it's in the employers' interest to resolve youth unemployment."

    She added: "There is now a massive opportunity to truly engage with employees in the workplace."

    Davis echoed these thoughts. "Employers need to step up and take greater ownership when up-skilling," he told delegates.

    "The game has changed and getting into the labour market will be harder for younger people even as the economy picks up."

    Pickering told the conference that she believed that the issue of skills shortage has risen because employers are not aware of what skills they actually need for future success. She said: "We have to accommodate young people not the other way round. We have a huge obligation to crack it for young people."

    She continued: "They have the technology skills employers are missing, they are proven to be so much more innovative in their thinking."

    She also said that apprenticeships were necessary for a successful future employment landscape. "We have to get over this 'apprenticeships aren't as good as university' idea," she said. "We need to get over ourselves."

    HR Magazine

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  • Olympics and self-employed boost UK employment figures
    13 September 2012

    The latest Labour Market Statistics report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), published yesterday, brought rare good news on employment, perhaps attributable to a boost given by the Olympic and Paralympic Games. However, some observers said the underlying weaknesses of the UK economy persist.

    Office of National Statistics

    The employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 71.2%, up 0.5 on the quarter, May to July 2012, which saw the start of the Olympics. The ONS noted that it expected further Olympics-related results in the August to October quarter.

    There were 29.56 million people in employment aged 16 and over, up 236,000 on the quarter. The unemployment rate was 8.1% of the economically active population, down 0.1 on the quarter. There were 2.59 million unemployed people, down 7,000 on the quarter, but up 61,000 on the year.

    Ian Brinkley, director of The Work Foundation, said: "The overall figures are remarkably good. This is the third quarter that total employment has increased despite the economy apparently being in recession - still not enough to confirm a trend, but definitely not a blip. The private sector has continued to hire in large numbers, although the overall performance may also have been boosted by a temporary slowdown in public sector job losses in the three months to June."

    "What is striking is how little impact this has had on unemployment - despite the large numbers of jobs created, unemployment has fallen by just 7,000. Large numbers of students, retirees and people on long-term sick leave seem to be returning to the jobs market, putting extra pressure on it. The rapid growth of the working age population is also having an effect. This development shows just how much of the pain in the labour market has been hidden in the past. There is still a long way to go before unemployment returns to normal levels," Brinkley said.

    The inactivity rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 22.4%, down 0.5 on the quarter. There were 9.01 million economically inactive people aged from 16 to 64, down 181,000 on the quarter.

    Total pay (including bonuses) rose by 1.5% on a year earlier, down 0.3 on the three months to June 2012. Regular pay (excluding bonuses) rose by 1.9% on a year earlier, up 0.1 on the three months to June. The number of people in employment aged 16 and over increased by 236,000 on the quarter to reach 29.56 million, the largest quarterly increase since the three months to July 2010.

    Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment and skills, said: "Businesses tell us that times are tough, but opportunities to grow remain. Today's labour market figures confirm this, with firms creating jobs at a robust pace, more than offsetting public sector job losses in the second quarter. Total unemployment has fallen, and fewer people are claiming jobseeker's allowance. Unemployment among young people remains a huge challenge. The Government cannot afford to lose focus on this vital issue."

    The number of full-time workers increased by 102,000 on the previous quarter to reach 21.44 million and the number of part-time workers increased by 134,000 to reach 8.12 million, the highest figure since comparable records began in 1992. The number of employees and self-employed people who were working part-time because they could not find a full-time job increased by 24,000 on the quarter to reach 1.42 million, the highest figure since comparable records began in 1992.

    Gerwyn Davies, labour market adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said: "Today's figures offer further evidence that the increase in employment is underpinned more by growth in self-employment than any increase in the overall number of employees, which has actually fallen during the past year. The results also continue to show an increase in the proportion of temporary, part-time workers who would like permanent, full-time work."

    Jobcentre plus

    "It is interesting to note that the trajectory of public sector job losses since 2010 has slowed sharply in recent months, which may confirm the theory that many public sector employers have front-loaded job cuts," Davies said.

    Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder and CEO of the freelance jobs marketplace PeoplePerHour, commented: "The riddle of why the jobs market continues to defy economic gravity may have finally been answered. The latest data reveal that while the dole queues shrank by 15,000 people last month, this was not down to the economy piling on new, full-time jobs. Instead it's part-time work that is taking up the slack. Over the past quarter, the number of people working part time because they could not find a full-time job leapt to the highest figure on record."

    The number of people unemployed for over one year was 904,000. This is the highest figure since the three months to May 1996 and it is up 22,000 on the previous quarter. The economic inactivity rate for those aged from 16 to 64 for the three months to July 2012 was 22.4%. This is the lowest figure since 1991 and it is down 0.5 percentage points on the previous quarter. The number of economically inactive people aged from 16 to 64 fell by 181,000 over the quarter to reach 9.01 million.

    The number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance fell by 15,000 between July and August 2012 to reach 1.57 million.

    The sector showing the largest increase in jobs over the quarter was professional, scientific and technical activities, which increased by 87,000 to reach 2.56 million. The sector showing the largest fall in jobs over the quarter was human health and social work activities, which fell by 60,000 to reach 4 million.

    HR Magazine

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  • Too many school leavers lack adequate skills
    24 August 2012

    GCSE grades have fallen for the first time in 24 years and The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has warned too many employees are entering the workplace without the basic literacy and numeracy skills.

    There has been a fall in the proportion of GCSEs awarded an A* - C grade, for the first time since the exams were introduced 24 years ago.

    British Chambers of Commerce

    This year's results, published yesterday, show 69.4% of entries earned grades A* - C, compared with 69.8% last year. There is also a fall in the proportion of pupils receiving the top A* and A grades, down to 22.4% from 23.2%.

    Adam Marshall, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: "We congratulate GCSE students today who are reaping the rewards of their hard work. Young people have a lot to offer, and businesses are keen to employ them.

    "Unfortunately, in recent years too many new employees have lacked basic skills and required remedial training for inadequate literacy and numeracy. Employers must be assured that qualifications reliably reflect a given level of skill, and will welcome an end to artificial grade inflation and planned changes to increase rigour."

    "We know that teachers and pupils are working hard to raise genuine skill levels, particularly in English and Maths, and this must remain a top priority. Employers will reject any measure of success that focuses exclusively on the most capable half of students, without supporting other young people in reaching high levels of literacy and numeracy."

    "The increase in entries to science exams this summer is good news for business. Young people with strong qualifications in the sciences remain sought-after by employers, and they can expect to succeed in exciting and rewarding careers."

    "BCC research shows that a lack of language skills has been a real barrier for UK businesses looking to sell their products and services overseas. One swallow doesn't make a summer, but we hope the slight rise in entries for modern languages this year is a signal that more students will study a language in future years."

    HR Magazine

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  • Latest Jobs Numbers at Odds with GDP Picture
    08 August 2012

    Latest figures from the Reed Job Index paint a significantly healthier picture of the state of the UK economy than the most recent GDP numbers would indicate.

    The monthly measure of conditions and trends in the jobs market, the largest of its kind in the UK, shows that the number of new job opportunities in July grew by over 2.5% month on month and an impressive 13% year on year. Indeed, the majority of the nation's employment sectors (68%) are now posting significantly more jobs than last month with three quarters (74%) enjoying a more buoyant year for new positions compared with 2011.


    Overall, the Reed Job Index now stands at 138 compared with 134 in June and 122 this time last year. Sector-wise, the figures show that social care and energy roles fared strongly month on month, with health and medicine, motoring and automotive, and hospitality and catering showing strong year on year growth.

    Around the UK, the picture is equally encouraging with 10 out of 12 regions posting monthly jobs growth and all regions playing host to more jobs year on year.

    Interestingly, those regions among the hardest hit by the recession are faring particularly well, with opportunities up by more than 6% in the North East and over 5% in the West Midlands month on month. The jobs market in London also continues to grow with opportunities in the capital up by 3% compared with June 2012.

    The index confirms national salary growth still remains flat, registering 0% monthly growth and slightly negative annual growth (-1%). Overall, the Reed Salary Index now stands at 98 as it did last month and 99 in July 2011.

    Commenting on the figures, Martin Warnes, Managing Director of reed.co.uk, said: "The Reed Job index has been reporting an improving jobs market since the third quarter of 2011 and it's great to see this positive trend continuing this month. Our figures are based on real vacancies from employers across the UK and represent a true picture of what's happening in the job market right now; they also show that the economy may be in healthier position than other macroeconomic indicators, such as the recent GDP numbers, would suggest."

    "Both the monthly and annual indexes are growing steadily and we are seeing more jobs consistently being posted across a broad swathe of the UK's employment sectors."

    "The recession has often accentuated disparities in access to new employment around the regions, so it is encouraging that job opportunities are now on the rise across the UK. This is particularly the case within those regions that were hit hardest by the recession such as the West Midlands and North East. Indeed, recent high-profile announcements of large scale investments in the workforces of both of these regions from Jaguar Land Rover and Hitachi respectively should further support the upward trend."

    People Management

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  • The best leaders rise through the ranks
    20 June 2012

    People who have excelled in an organisation in a specialist role before rising to the top make better leaders than professional managers, a new study has claimed.

    Such 'expert leaders' are the most likely to get results because they have deep knowledge of the jobs their employees are doing, found the research from Cass Business School and the University of Sheffield.

    Cass Business School

    The study used the example of Formula 1 teams, analysing the results of 18,000 races over the last 60 years. It found that the best teams were led by former drivers or mechanics who had previously worked in Formula 1 at a low level. They won twice as many races as teams who were led by professional managers or high-level engineers who did not have this previous hands-on experience.

    "Former top drivers, like Jean Todt, consistently turn into successful Formula One bosses, even when accounting for factors such as the resources available to each team," said co-author of the study, Dr Amanda Goodall of Cass Business School.

    University of Sheffield

    The findings back up previous research from Dr Goodall which found that hospitals run by former doctors perform better than those without direct medical experience. She believes the principle of 'expert leaders' has a wide application in business and public administration.

    "Is it important that the CEO of McKinsey was an outstanding consultant first? Should the BMW boss be an engineer? Are doctors better at running NHS hospitals? We would argue, 'yes'," said Dr Goodall.

    "Over the last three decades, managerialism has become pervasive. Major blue chip firms have shifted away from hiring CEOs with technical expertise, towards the selection of professional managers and generalists."

    "The swing of the pendulum has gone too far - leaders should first be experts in the core business of their organisations, whether they are bankers, hospital administrators, restaurateurs or technology innovators. Being a capable general manager alone is not sufficient," she concluded.

    People Management

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  • Work Programme finding jobs for almost one in four
    21 May 2012

    ERSA performance figures on Work Programme show relative improvement against challenging economic backdrop

    The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the trade association for the welfare to work industry, today releases the second tranche of performance data for the Work Programme.

    Based on feedback from the majority of Work Programme prime contract providers, ERSA states that:

  • Approaching one in four of those who joined the Work Programme between June and September 2011, and therefore have been on the programme for at least six months, have started employment.
  • Performance ranges between 18% and 26% across contract package areas.
  • The wage incentive element of the Youth Contract is beginning to have a positive effect by encouraging employers to take on young recruits.
  • It remains too early to draw firm conclusions about the likelihood of the industry meeting performance targets.
  • The Work Programme was commissioned by the government in 2011, at a time when the Office of Budget Responsibility was still forecasting UK economic growth of 2.6% compared to a forecast of 0.8% growth today in 2012. Work Programme providers' performance in these early months of the programme therefore needs to be seen in the context of an increasingly difficult economic backdrop.

    Kirsty McHugh, CEO ERSA

    In addition, Work Programme providers continue to cope with the impact of far lower than expected referrals of jobseekers on Employment Support Allowance. This means that providers' sensitive financial models are adversely affected by those jobseekers paid at a higher rate not being referred to the programme, while charities in supply chains are not getting as much work as expected.

    ERSA chief executive, Kirsty McHugh (pictured), said:

    "These still relatively early Work Programme performance figures show that the welfare to work industry is pulling out all the stops to help jobseekers into employment. However, the economic backdrop is very worrying as a lack of confidence by employers will delay recruitment decisions.

    "The Work Programme is designed as a long term programme and therefore it is still too early to draw firm conclusions about the likelihood of meeting performance targets. Clearly however the industry has been hit by a double whammy. Not only is the economy a cause for concern, but the industry continues to cope with the serious implications of a lack of referrals of jobseekers on Employment and Support Allowance.

    "On a positive note, however, there is early evidence that the wage incentive element of the government's Youth Contract does appear to be encouraging employers to take on more young recruits. The government may need to do more to incentivise employers to bring forward recruitment decisions.

    "Going forward, ERSA will be closely tracking provider performance and working with the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure that the Work Programme is able to deliver for all customers."


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  • Specialise, don't generalise: The UK retail challenge
    23 April 2012

    An interesting feature by Ian Burke, CEO of RetailChoice.com, appearing on www.hrmagazine.co.uk today.

    As the High Street continues to see more challenges - with the recent closures of branches of Mothercare and the administration of Game still fresh in our minds - many are speculating a large-scale e-commerce take over from traditional platforms. But many of these predictions are far-fetched and how retail real estate still has life in it yet.

    Shopping centre

    RetailChoice.com reported a 38% increase in e-commerce roles at the end of 2011. This coincides with Deloitte's recent Store of the Future report, predicting that retail floor space will shrink up to 40% over the next five years. Although there is some suggestive correlation in these stats, I don't feel that online shopping is close to fully replacing the traditional in-store experience or that this could ever happen. I feel what we'll begin to witness is a move to specialise rather than generalise.

    Retailers need to begin playing more to their unique strengths - their points of difference - with customers feeling more and more like a community. Smaller retailers are well placed to do this; able to focus more closely on their customers' needs and provide a uniquely strong, tailored and positive in-store experience. These employers will be looking for staff to specialise in personable face-to-face customer interaction, with a good understanding of their products and the needs of their market.

    The retail giants are also in on the act. It has been recently reported that supermarkets Tesco and Sainsbury's are to stop expanding in the UK , and we see them begin to pay more attention to the quality of their smaller 'Express' and 'Local' urban sites. It seems to show investment into community, customer experience and overall convenience. Consequently, we'll see staff at these outlets becoming up-skilled and more specialised, knowing how many of each item is in stock and when things need to be ordered, with an in-depth knowledge of the product offering and store-layout. Take Apple for instance, they don't advertise for 'sales assistants', their jobs include titles such as 'specialist' and 'Apple Genius'. It is a return to old-fashioned personal service and I believe that this is a sensible approach for supermarkets. It will provide a straightforward way to immediately improve the customers' experience and help elicit trust and loyalty.

    As online grocery shopping continues to increase in popularity, I do see scope for supermarkets to invest more in back-office logistics. I'm sure I don't just speak for myself when I say that it's irritating to see an employee take the last loaf of bread off the shelf for an online customer. It can't be making the in-store shopper feel valued when someone at home gets priority. Teams of online pickers definitely need to be removed from the shop floor with their own space and channels of distribution - particularly as online shopping increases.


    Of course, I am not disputing an undeniable shift towards e-commerce in all sectors, and this does need intelligent strategy. Customers who have become brand-loyal will expect their online experience to mirror the in-store one. For many retailers online transactions stem from a positive, reliable in-store experience. The trust is built up from bricks and mortar and, in order to achieve a level of reputation and repeat business, retailers need to ensure that their e-commerce teams are fluent in the brand identity and customer journey. E-commerce - and m-commerce - have arrived and will continue to expand. My advice to those in the UK retail sector would be not to treat online retail as a pendant to traditional platforms. The same - if not more - attention needs to be paid to this shift if retailers' websites are to do justice to their brand and its products.

    If you look at a cross section of the sector, all retailers will be at a different point in their journey to online integration, whether they've got a fully successful website with a loyal family of online shoppers or they're at the initial research stages. Ultimately, retailers need to attain the right balance between online and in-store and total consistency across both channels. E-commerce cannot be done half-heartedly, it needs to be fully embraced and integrated into the business model otherwise companies risk damaging their reputation. Let's face it: after a bad experience - whether it be online or in store - we're not likely to return.

    Candidates are increasingly hired to fill very skill-specific roles with retailers looking for e-commerce specialists, and not just one per company. Department stores, for instance, are hiring teams of e-commerce experts to manage each of their different fields, such as homeware, fashion and electricals.

    HR Magazine

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  • Do skills shortages really exist when so many people are out of work?
    19 April 2012

    Skills shortages often take the blame when employers say they cannot recruit the right staff for available jobs. Businesses claim the education system is failing to produce "work-ready" candidates, while specialist, senior roles can go unfilled for months because of the so-called dearth of expertise. But six in 10 employers admit they are turning away perfectly good candidates because they cannot afford to hire them, according to a new report from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).


    The majority of companies surveyed said the salaries they offered hampered their ability to recruit the best staff, but would not increase wages amid the challenging economic environment, the study of 160 employers, covering 38,843 workers in the UK, revealed.

    The report challenges the often-made assumption that there aren't enough suitable candidates in the UK labour market, the CMI said.

    Pay was the second most frequently cited reason for recruitment problems, followed by competition from other employers, the location of their company and the benefits package they offered.

    Skills shortages were cited as the biggest problem, with 80pc of employers saying a lack of suitable candidates slowed recruitment, but the CMI said employers should try harder to attract the best workers.

    Christopher Kinsella, acting chief executive of the CMI, said: "We understand that many organisations are still struggling to provide general salary increases due to recessionary pressures, but we urge employers to look to non-financial methods of rewarding good employees or risk losing them."

    The CMI study showed one in 10 managers quit their jobs last year - more than twice as many as the year before - as people felt increasingly undervalued and overworked in their roles.

    Mr Kinsella said: "A company that does not work hard to retain its employees and invest in its people will find itself in a difficult situation given we already have a shortage of high quality managers."

    "Strong managers are the lifeblood of effective organisations and too many employers are realising this too late."

    More than 283,000 managers walked away from their jobs in the year to September 2011, despite unemployment reaching a 17 year high.

    Staff turnover for management roles, including those resigning, retiring, transferring internally and being made redundant, doubled to 20.3pc over the period, the CMI said. Half of companies said they were struggling to retain the right staff.

    At the same time, six in 10 companies had problems hiring suitable people, up from half the year before.

    Official figures on Wednesday showed there were 464,000 vacancies in the UK between December and February, with six unemployed people per available job.

    Average earnings growth in the year to February slowed to 1.1pc, the Office for National Statistics said, well below inflation.

    The CMI report showed managers took home an average pay rise of 3.1pc over the period, up from 2.2pc the year before.

    Senior-level bonuses are now half as common as they were six years ago, with 44.2pc of directors and chief executives pocketing a bonus last year, possibly to drive down "excessive" pay, the CMI said.

    The average chief executive bonus was £103,754, compared to £5,326 for managers.


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  • The sweet scent of success for The Perfume Shop
    15 March 2012

    Kaonix Solutions has just announced another major new deal to supply a top High Street brand with its market leading recruitment management system.

    The Perfume Shop

    Kaonix - the UK's leading online recruitment technology experts - confirmed that The Perfume Shop has just gone live with the highly innovative web-cruit system.

    Founded in 1992, The Perfume Shop is part of the world's largest Health and Beauty retailer, A.S Watson, with over 240 stores in the UK and still growing.

    In 2012, on the first occasion of entering, The Perfume Shop made it straight into the Sunday Times Top 100 Best Companies to Work For, a remarkable achievement by any measure. The launch of the new recruitment website, www.theperfumeshopjobs.com, builds on the culture of success which permeates throughout The Perfume Shop.

    Commenting on the new deal, Liz Little, recruitment officer at The Perfume Shop, said: "Kaonix are not only one of the leading cost effective suppliers of online recruitment solutions on the market, they are also extremely helpful and adaptable to the needs of the client.

    I have found working with the Kaonix team a real pleasure, nothing has been too much of an ask and feedback has been openly welcomed, which has been great as it is the first time we have had a system like this in place at The Perfume Shop.

    We have just launched our new website with Kaonix and the transition has been extremely smooth and we have found that the system has been constructed to be easy to use, even for beginners!"

    Mark Keane, product manager at Kaonix, said: "Working with The Perfume Shop to implement their new career site and recruitment management system has been a real pleasure. They have started from a clean slate and built a refreshingly modern, engaging site from the ground up.

    The commitment and enthusiasm of the team at The Perfume Shop for the new system has been overwhelming and we look forward to continuing to build and develop our relationship."

    Mark added: "Businesses today are looking for efficient, scalable, cost-effective ways of improving their online recruitment processes. For many, doing so has become mission critical; without better, quicker, simpler processes they know they will lose out on the best talent and fall behind their competitors.

    web-cruit sits at the core of our Talent Management Solutions, providing customers with a way of attracting the best talent and managing applications - from automated filtering and tracking to individual scoring - that delivers an outstanding return on investment. web-cruit is remarkably easy to use. It can be quickly configured to our customers' exact requirements and can handle any number of applications perfectly.

    It also comes with a suite of reports that quickly and clearly analyse performance to show exactly where recruitment activity works best. web-cruit enables customers to enhance their employer brand, streamline and simplify their online recruitment processes, and pinpoint where their recruitment activity is working best."

    As a highly efficient, scalable and easy-to-use vacancy management and applicant tracking system, web-cruit puts an array of useful functions at customers' fingertips.

    With web-cruit you can:

  • Enhance your employer brand.
  • Advertise vacancies quickly and easily.
  • Manage your recruitment agency suppliers.
  • Channel applications from all sources into one place and speed up time to hire.
  • Identify issues in advance.
  • Reduce advertising and agency costs.
  • The system is flexible and vacancies can appear in social media and other websites such as job boards within seconds.

    Established in 2000, Kaonix is the UK's first and leading provider of end-to-end online recruitment management solutions to a diverse range of organizations, large and small.


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  • Part-time workers 'happiest in UK'
    29 February 2012

    Part-time workers are the happiest in the UK, according to new well-being data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

    Office of National Statistics

    The ONS survey asked a sample of 80,000 people aged 16 and over to rate, on a scale of one to ten, their life satisfaction, how worthwhile their daily activity was, and how happy and anxious they had felt the day before.

    The average ratings for the 'life satisfaction', 'worthwhile' and 'happy yesterday' questions were higher for people working part-time than those working full-time. The 'worthwhile' scores showed the greatest difference, at 7.9 for part-time staff versus 7.6 for full-time employees.

    The report also distinguished between those working part-time out of choice, and those who only did so because they could not secure full-time employment.

    People voluntarily opting for a part-time work pattern were significantly more 'satisfied' than the group forced to adopt it - scoring 7.7 compared to 6.9. Their 'happiness' rating was also 7.6 compared to 7.0.

    The wider ONS survey also revealed that unemployed people registered lower levels of well-being and higher levels of stress than those with a job.

    Furthermore, 'life satisfaction' ratings dropped the longer a person had been out of work - from 6.9 at six months, to 6.0 at 12 months and over.

    Joblessness was found to have a more negative effect on men's subjective well-being than women. Unemployed men recorded 'life satisfaction' scores of 6.4 compared to 6.6 for women, plus a lower 'worthwhile' feeling - 6.6 versus 7.1.

    But women reported greater anxiety levels overall, topped by unemployed women at 3.6, compared to 3.2 for women in work.

    There was found to be little difference in scores depending on profession type, although people in jobs involving a high level of routine scored slightly lower across all of the well-being ratings.

    The ONS report is part of ongoing research into the nation's well-being. As well as the impact of work, the full analysis measures other factors such as personal relationships and regional differences.

    People Management

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  • Four out of five employers back apprenticeships
    13 February 2012

    With Kaonix having successsfully implemented its own apprentice programme recently, it is interesting to see that in a recent study most British employers have indicated that they are behind the drive to create more apprenticeships and plan to increase their use of apprentice programmes in the future.


    Four out of five (81 per cent) employers expect apprenticeships to play a bigger part in their recruitment policy in future, a Populus survey for the National Apprenticeship Service revealed. Three-quarters (75 per cent) agreed that the economic climate made apprenticeships all the more important. Reduced recruitment costs, and the perception that apprentices make a valuable contribution to the business at an early stage, were the most frequent arguments cited in favour.

    Minister for skills, John Hayes MP, welcomed the findings, which came at the end of the government's Apprenticeship Week.

    "This research demonstrates that British businesses realise how important apprenticeships can be in helping their companies to grow," said Hayes. "Clarity of policy, strength of commitment and certainty of purpose in government has delivered record numbers of apprenticeship starts, outstanding success rates and growth across all sectors."

    "This success, mirrored in every English region, is putting businesses on stronger ground to deliver a more balanced economy."

    Apprenticeship Week has seen a host of employers pledge an increase in their apprenticeship numbers, including Siemens, BAE Systems, Starbucks, Hilton Hotels, McDonalds and British Airways.

    Keith Williams, chief executive of British Airways, which will take on an additional 200 apprentices, said: "Our apprentices have become a crucial part of our operation since we launched new schemes in 2010. I'm extremely proud that in a year when all eyes are on emerging young talent we are seeing our biggest intake of apprentices."

    Jaine Bolton, director of the National Apprenticeship Service, added: "Encouraging more employers to offer quality apprenticeships is absolutely vital in equipping young people with the skills they need for the future - and the skills that Britain needs to grow."

    "We are committed to creating a new era for Apprenticeships with increased quality of courses and ensuring that there has never been a better time to offer or take an apprenticeship."

    People Management

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  • Employees crave email and Twitter more than alcohol
    03 February 2012

    The addiction to read work emails or access social networking sites is stronger than cravings for cigarettes, alcohol and sex, according to a study by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

    Chicago Booth

    In the study of desire regulation, 205 adults wore devices that recorded a total of 7,827 reports about their daily desires. Desires for sleep and sex were the strongest, while desires for media and work proved the hardest to resist.

    Even though tobacco and alcohol are thought of as addictive, desires associated with them were the weakest, according to the study. Surprisingly to the researchers, sleep and leisure were the most problematic desires, suggesting "pervasive tension between natural inclinations to rest and relax and the multitude of work and other obligations," said Wiklhelm Hofmann, assistant professor at Chigaco University and author of the report.

    The study supported past research that the more frequently and recently people have resisted a desire, the less successful they will be at resisting any subsequent desire. Therefore as a day wears on, willpower becomes lower, and self-control efforts are more likely to fail, said Hofmann, who co-authored the paper with Roy Baumeister of Florida State University and Kathleen Vohs of the University of Minnesota.

    The effects of willpower depletion explain why so many people have trouble resisting unhealthy food - the more they resist the food, the more they crave it.

    Hofmann added: "Modern life is a welter of assorted desires marked by frequent conflict and resistance, the latter with uneven success."

    HR Magazine

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  • Employers planning to increase workforce in 2012
    27 January 2012

    Employers are becoming more cautious about taking on new staff but a "significant number" of business plan to increase their workforce this year, presenting a challenge to HR directors, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

    January's Jobs Outlook survey, which tracks future hiring intentions rather than actual placements, confirms many employers are now waiting for an upturn in economic prospects before they commit to growing their workforce.

    A marked dip in the short-term prospects for permanent staff was reflected in a two point drop over the month with 63% expecting to increase their workforce and another 31% planning to retain their present headcount. With regards to the longer term outlook, 59% expect to take on more permanent staff over the next twelve months and another 39% intending to maintain staffing at existing levels, an eight point decrease on the previous month.

    Despite the dip in business confidence, it is interesting to note that a significant number of businesses plan to increase or maintain staffing levels in the short and medium term.

    Employers identified a number of key sectors where skills shortages were likely to be encountered over the coming year. On the permanent side, shortages were expected in professional and managerial roles; nursing, medical and healthcare; and education and training. For temporary staff, skills shortages were likely to occur in driving and distribution (21%), catering and accommodation (21%) and accounting/financial (16%).

    Despite the first 12 week qualifying period for agency workers to receive equal treatment having been reached in December, expectations over short term demand for agency staff have remained stable.

    More than a quarter (27%) of employers plan to increase their use of agency workers during this period, with another 57% saying theirs would remain at the same level - a total of 84%. The long-term forecast is for most employers (65%) to keep their usage at existing levels while 22% said they planned an increase.

    Roger Tweedy, the REC's director of research said: "Last November's figures showed that many employers were hoping to slightly increase their permanent workforces early in the New Year. However, there has been a significant dip in employer optimism that is likely to be linked to continuing economic concerns over the sovereign debt crisis in the Eurozone.

    "Most employers have retrenched to a much more cautious 'wait and see' approach, which is starting to be reflected in the REC's Employer Confidence Barometer index which fell back one point from the month before. However it is important to note that this confidence index is still five points above its lowest mark last September and that a significant number of businesses still plan to take on new staff during the course of year, despite the slight change in mood."

    HR Magazine

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  • Drop in permanent and temporary jobs
    11 January 2012

    Fresh evidence of the weakness of Britain's labour market emerged in a report showing demand for full-time and temporary staff fell last month.

    Following the recent pick up in the official unemployment total to more than 2.5 million, the monthly survey from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation and the consultants KPMG showed the third successive fall in permanent placements and the first reduction in the use of temps for almost two and a half years.

    The REC blamed the uncertainty caused by the crisis in the eurozone for the reluctance of employers to hire but stressed that the outlook for jobs was not as bleak as it was at the depths of the recession in early 2009.


    Kevin Green, The REC's chief executive, said: "While the jobs market is tough it remains resilient and is functioning well. There are clearly signs of decline but we are nowhere near the lows seen in 2009 when the market deteriorated at a drastically faster rate than we are seeing today. Employers are still hiring and using temps in large numbers; however, they are starting the year on a cautious note and are taking their time to make workforce decisions. The quicker the eurozone sovereign debt crisis is resolved and we get some economic visibility, the better it will be for employer confidence and the UK jobs market."

    The REC index for the hiring of permanent staff stood at 48.5 last month, with any finding below 50 pointing to a decline in demand for workers by employers. The index for temps dipped to 49.0, the first time it has been below 50 in 29 months. The lack of job opportunities for a bigger pool of applicants for jobs meant pay pressures remain muted last month, with hourly pay rates for temps falling for the first time since January.

    Green said that demand for labour in certain sectors of the economy had remained strong, citing engineering, technology, IT, office professionals and nursing as areas of increasing demand for labour. There was falling demand from finance and accountancy, while the REC reported a significant downturn in jobs in the hotel and catering sector. "This might be a short-term blip as we build up to a peak of demand around the Olympics itself but it could also be a worrying indicator of a lack of engagement in the Olympics from both business and consumers", Green said. He added that the cautiousness about hiring appeared to stem from a general lack of confidence in the outlook for the economy rather than a significant downturn in demand for goods and services.

    Bernard Brown, partner and head of business services at KPMG said: "It is a huge concern to see temporary placements falling in tandem with permanent employment opportunities, making it difficult to be optimistic about the employment market in 2012. The decline in temporary roles is a clear indication that businesses are too nervous to even make short-term commitments, given the continued uncertainty across the Euro Zone and so much talk of a tough year ahead."

    The Guardian

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