Expert panel issues warning over changing face of recruitment in the 21st century

Bosses at firms across the UK have to realise that the "game has changed" in terms of skills, recruitment and employment structures in the 21st century, according to an expert panel.

The minister for employment, Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson, and the chief executive of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, Michael Davis, participated in a panel discussion at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's (CIPD) annual conference in Manchester.

The discussion, entitled Building the Workforces of Tomorrow, was chaired by Peter Cheese, the CIPD's chief executive officer.

He told delegates that a variety of factors including children not taking science, maths, engineering and technology subjects at school, and the changing tides in the global marketplace, were having an effect on businesses, with many organisations struggling to find people with the right skills.

Mr Davis said that while this was true, the challenges for tackling the problem went deeper than the current plight of the financial markets, triggered in 2007-08.

He said: "This isn't cyclical and it's not about the current recession. It's much more structural than that. The number of vacancies is growing, but there's a decline in the number of entry-level jobs traditionally taken up by young people and some just don't exist anymore."

Small to medium-sized firms are tending to bring in more informal recruitment schemes - such as advertising jobs on notice boards - which can cloud the issue for jobseekers looking elsewhere for work.

Meanwhile, increasingly important work experience can be difficult for young people to gain, exacerbating the situation.

One in four employers offers jobs to people aged 16 to 21 who are leaving education for the first time, according to research.

While the amount of apprenticeships on offer are on the rise, it is still seen as a "relatively unused pathway" in comparison with other countries, with many young people regarding it as lagging behind university as an option for future prosperity.

And Mr Davis issued a stark warning, adding: "We need more employers to take ownership and recognise that the game has changed."

Copyright Press Association 2012