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Public Sector Recruitment Battle

October 18, 2019

Research from 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 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, competition from the private sector, and time to hire new personnel.

For its ‘A Question of Talent?’ Report, 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% of those felt they had an adequate budget to secure the very best talent and fight off competition from rivals and the private sector.

Time to hire is still a challenge for more than one third of respondents. Thorough vetting and pre-employment checks are a key barrier to hiring times, with only 18% 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% identifying this as an area where there is room for improvement. Looking more closely, over half 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% are keen to spread their recruitment wider to find more candidates from more unusual sources.

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 rated the way public sector organisations tackle the challenges of talent attraction as average, while a quarter feel the current approaches are ineffective.

Leatham Green, Executive Director at The PPMA, comments: “This survey highlights a key finding: only 20% 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.”


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