25 June 2004
Nine out of ten public sector organisations say they experienced problems recruiting staff during 2003, according to research published this week.
The annual recruitment and retention survey, released by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development on June 22, showed that public services were reporting recruitment difficulties at all levels.
But the problem was particularly acute in professional and managerial grades: 69% of public sector organisations reported problems finding people to fill these positions.
Reasons cited for recruitment problems included candidates' lack of relevant skills (66% of organisations); unaffordable salary demands (56%); and lack of experience (53%).
Another problem was lack of interest: 43% said they had advertised posts but had received no applications.
In addition, the survey pointed out the scale of the problem facing public sector workers looking for affordable housing.
One in four respondents said successful applicants had subsequently turned down a job because they could not afford to live in the area.
The survey, Recruitment, retention and turnover, also highlighted problems in retaining staff, with just over three-quarters of respondents identifying it as a problem.
Turnover across the public sector as a whole was 12.4%, but there were differences between individual service areas. In health it was 11.7%, while in education it was 13.9%. Local government averaged 11.9% and central government 12.2%.
The survey found that 40% of this turnover was either through redundancy or dismissal. Stephen Taylor, one of the report's authors and senior lecturer in human resource management at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: 'This suggests that many organisations are responding to recruitment difficulties by appointing unsuitable people.
'Poor, rushed decisions at the recruitment stage are thus apparently contributing in a major way to subsequent staff retention problems.'
At the same time, a report from Industrial Relations Services showed that public sector pay awards had slowed slightly in the 12 months to May 2004. The average pay rise over that period was 3%, compared with 3.2% in May 2003.
Report editor Sheila Attwood said: 'Ability to pay remains a key constraint for employers, and employees should not expect pay rises to jump above 3%.'