According to the recent ‘Barriers to Growth Report’ commissioned by the members of the City of Expertise, 80% of our businesses are expecting dramatic or moderate growth over the next two years and their biggest problem is finding and retaining skilled staff. To add to the challenge, St Albans is an area that has high levels of employment and proximity to London can be seen as a brain drain.

Across the board, regardless of the size of the business, it is the people that are not only helping to drive success, but also the lack thereof is preventing further growth. And, the bigger the company the more likely they are to be increasing headcount either significantly or slightly. The 51+ employee businesses are most likely at 78%, the 6 – 50 cohort second with 72%, and finally, the 1 – 5 employee businesses at 49%. The problem of recruitment is across all our business sectors. Whilst the professional services sector has the biggest recruitment problem with 20% of businesses citing staff recruitment and retention as their biggest problem, 19% of the construction and engineering companies and 19% of the sales and marketing respondents are also experiencing difficulties. In addition, 17% of the hospitality businesses are experiencing difficulties recruiting staff.

How are the businesses adapting to the recruitment challenge – well some are changing their strategies, when asked ‘Do you intend to make any changes to your hiring practices?’ the responses were;

With such a big problem it seems short sighted that so many of the businesses are doing ‘more of the same’ when it comes to recruitment. It will be interesting to see who the winners are in this fight for skills.

In contrast the businesses were much more flexible when it came to asking them about potential changes to their staff retention plans. Many were considering adopting a variety of options, increasing the skills within the business scored highly, followed by offering flexible working hours and then personal development. All great signs that our businesses recognise that a bird in the hand etc. etc. it does seem a backwards step that their approach to recruitment is not so innovative.

 “It’s very hard to persuade graduates to work in St Albans rather than London!”

“It’s purely staff attraction – if St Albans could raise its profile as a great place to live and work with easy access in to London in the evenings ……… it would help a lot”

If your business is having difficulties of any sort, please get in touch with one of our members and if they cannot help then they will certainly know someone who can. We are called ‘The City of Expertise’ for a very good reason!