Blue collar shortage & recruiting with social media | Recruitment News UK (2022)

Is Britain running out of blue Collar workers? Employers express hiring doubts for the future.

SMEs are bracing for the impact of Brexit, a new study reports.

When you think of Technological solutions for recruiters, McDonald’s may not be the first name you think of. But the brand scored a surprising social media win.

New investigation suggests that it is not only specialist roles that are seeing a recruitment squeeze.

Reports of skills gaps opening up in specialist industries have become all too familiar in the UK recruitment sector. But a new study suggests that hiring is becoming equally challenging for manual and elementary positions, too.

Workforce management firm Quinyx published its findings from a survey of 1,008 businesses that hire elementary workers. The y learned that 49 per cent of UK employers are struggling to secure manual workers. The same number also reported problems in retention of its manual workforce.

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The figures could concern employers and recruiters of manual professionals: many of whom fear a post-Brexit downturn in hiring.

The study found that blue collar industries believe they could lose as much as 18 per cent of their manual workforce, when Britain exits the EU. More than one in five (22 per cent) businesses predicts that they will lose 30 per cent of elementary staff. Going forward, 49 per cent expect a negative hiring impact from Brexit. 18 per cent of hiring managers in elementary services predicts the impact to be ‘severe’.

A proposed earnings threshold is one of the main challenges of recruiting after Brexit. The suggested scheme would prevent those earning below £30,000 from entering the UK. Elementary roles frequently command average salaries below this mark. The rule would essentially block candidates from mainland Europe from participating in future hiring processes.

Logistics and healthcare enterprises were among the most pessimistic about their future hiring prospects.

Worker Dissatisfaction fuels the shortage

The study delved deeper into the underlying causes of the slowdown in blue collar hiring. Worker dissatisfaction was found to be the key factor. One third (33 per cent) of employers acknowledged that low pay was the main cause for hiring difficulties. Nearly the same number (32 per cent) also named salaries as the primary reason for poor employee retention rates.

Inadequate opportunities to progress in manual positions is also seen as a major sticking point. 22 per cent of firms struggle with the lack of ‘upward mobility’ in blue collar work when it comes to securing new talent. A quarter (24 per cent) of businesses have lost members of their team due to an absence of career opportunities.

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Manual work has also been slow to adapt to the changing culture and expectations of the modern workforce. One in four businesses have lost candidates or existing employees because of unsociable working hours. One in five has failed to secure new talent because they were unable to provide flexible working arrangements.

The sectors facing the greatest challenges for blue collar hires were: retail, leisure & hospitality, and catering. Businesses in London and the South East faced the greatest competition for manual workers.

The fall in confidence should be met by recruiters with a desire to solve these issues. Skills shortages and falling employee retention rates impact the bottom line of the business. Poor retention rates account for a fall in output of as much as 9 per cent. It means that there is money on the table for agencies that can meet the challenges of a lean recruitment market. As the impact of Brexit becomes clearer, it may be the case that placements with an historically lower reward may soon become a more lucrative prospect for recruiting firms.

Blue collar shortage & recruiting with social media | Recruitment News UK (1)
With the March deadline fast approaching, smaller enterprises are bracing for hiring slowdown

Britain’s small and medium-sized enterprises are increasingly cautious about the impact of Brexit, a survey by agency Adecco has found. Today, approximately one third (39 per cent) of SMEs believed they would be unaffected by Britain’s departure from the EU. It is a marked decline from a similar survey taken in the third quarter of 2018. At that time, nearly half (49 per cent) of SMEs did not believe they would feel the effects of Brexit.

The data tallies with figures that eBoss published last week in our exclusive Brexit report. Although we investigated recruitment firms rather than employers, we also learned that one third (33 per cent) of agencies did not expect to feel any impact from Brexit.

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The latest data marks the first time that hiring confidence has fallen below the 40 per cent benchmark in an Adecco survey.

Johnny Luk, the firm’s Head of Policy and Strategy highlighted the importance of SMEs to the recruitment sector and the wider economy.

“SMEs form the backbone of the UK economy”.

“Once more clarity emerges it’s important that they are able to act fast on any changes and capitalise on opportunities; this will be key to executing any post-Brexit strategy.”

The report also suggested that, while SMEs may be expressing doubts, they may actually be better placed than larger employers, when it comes to managing Brexit risk. “[SMEs] can offer more tailored, and flexible roles for employees. This will stand them in good stead no matter what the outcome of Brexit is, as they will be able to continue to attract talent.”

Blue collar shortage & recruiting with social media | Recruitment News UK (2)
Recruiting with social media is incredibly on-trend. Does McDonald’s offer the ideal case study?

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A part-time position in a McDonald’s restaurant is many people’s first taste of the working world. The fast food giant employs 120,000 staff in the UK. But, in Australia, the company hires 30,000 young people each year. It makes the territory an ideal testing ground for new ideas. In 2019, that means an increasing focus on recruiting with social media at the centre of its hiring strategies.

Launched at the end of last year, the new technique targeted the increasingly popular Snapchat app as a channel for discovering new talent.

Agency VML (now VMLY&R) developed an instant job lens for the platform, which it called ‘Snaplications’. The Snaplications lens let youngsters transform themselves into McDonald’s crew, and explain why they would be the ideal candidate. The entire process took less than 10 seconds.

The scheme was a public relations win for the agency that devised it, and for McDonald’s. The fast food chain experienced a surge in applications, with 3,000 hopefuls using the Snapchat process to apply in the first 24 hours. The figure is four times the average weekly application rate for the chain.

Meanwhile, the agency claimed a global awareness of 300 million people for its product, following extensive media coverage.

technological solution for recruiters

The project demonstrates how a strong understanding of a media channel and its user base can impact positively on outcomes. 45 per cent of Snapchat users are under 25 years of age, making it the ideal platform for targeting first-time applicants. The no-pressure, low barrier of entry for the application process also encourages participation among teens and young adults. The process is seen as fun, and applicants are willing to take part simply to “have a go” at trying out the new software.

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The case shows how innovation in recruitment technology can score big wins for agencies in unexpected places. Having already seen this week how entry level roles – and positions in smaller enterprises – are facing challenges from Brexit, the McDonald’s approach could offer an effective model to combat future worker shortages.

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