Public Survey

Public Sector Battling with Recruitment Challenges

Talent scarcity is a major issue for 62 percent of public sector workers

Talent scarcity, budget constraints, competition from the private sector and time to hire are the major concerns amongst recruiters in the public sector, according to a new study.

For its ‘A Question of Talent?’ Report, Oleeo, , the leading talent acquisition technology provider, in partnership with WiredGov and The Public Services People Managers Association (PPMA), has found that nearly two thirds (62 percent) of public sector workers think talent scarcity is the biggest obstacle for sector-wide recruiting. Other major challenges are budget constraints and the need to prove ROI (55 percent), competition from the private sector (43 percent), and time to hire new personnel (36 percent).

Research from Oleeo alongside WiredGov and The PPMA collected the views of 167 recruitment decision-makers from across the UK public sector, covering government, education, housing associations, blue light, healthcare and the third sector. It found that just 19 percent of those felt they had an adequate budget to secure the very best talent and fight off competition from rivals and the private sector.

Charles Hipps, CEO and Founder at Oleeo, elaborates: “Everyone wants to hire the very best staff for their company, that goes without saying. However, if businesses want to employ better people, they need to implement better ways of recruiting. We are now at a stage where we need to reset existing and inherent behaviours, shed unnecessary burdens and arm HR teams with the relevant tools required to outperform the competition.”

Time to hire is still a challenge for more than one third of respondents (36 percent). Thorough vetting and pre-employment checks are a key barrier to hiring times, with only 18 percent stating that these have minimal or no impact on the time gap between offer and appointment.

Greater diversity within the public sector is still firmly on the agenda, with 79 percent identifying this as an area where there is room for improvement. Looking more closely, over half (55 percent) think there needs to be greater ethnic diversity, and two thirds feel as there is still a gender disparity, whilst one third believe educational background still plays too big a role in the recruitment process. To achieve a more diverse workforce, 44 percent are keen to spread their recruitment wider to find more candidates from more unusual sources.

Oleeo’s research suggests that recruitment technology is essential to better understanding and responding to the challenges. While three quarters say that data plays a major role in informing their decision-making processes, nearly half (46 percent) feel that their current level of automation is not sufficient to deliver their target business efficiencies.

Leatham Green, Executive Director at The PPMA, comments: “This survey highlights a key finding: only 20 percent of respondents proactively use data to drive decision-making and associated strategies. There is clearly scope for major improvement, and the development of digital technologies and AI will give us important assistance here.”

Historically, talent attraction in the public sector has been significantly paper-based, with bureaucratic systems and a lack of meaningful automation. This makes the overall experience for new applicants, even with the addition of on-line application forms, feel inefficient, longwinded, and poor. The recruiters from within the public sector acknowledge this, in fact, more than half (51 percent) rated the way public sector organisations tackle the challenges of talent attraction as average, while a quarter feel the current approaches are ineffective.

Hipps concludes: “The public sector unquestionably needs to be both liberated from the confines of its traditional paper-based systems and nurtured so it can thrive and flourish. Innovations in recruiting technologies are helping improve candidate experience, but there is still more to come. Public sector employers who continue to increase their use of technology will have a much smoother talent acquisition process. This will not only deliver more positive results in terms of use of budget, but make it easier to find and compete for better talent that is likely to stay in a role for longer and succeed.”

To read the full ‘‘A Question of Talent?’ report, please click here.


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