Flexibility is key to successful recruitment

Allan Associates

Allan Associates - Credit: NG

Allen Associates’ new survey highlights business growth

Allen Associates Kate Allen

Allen Associates Kate Allen - Credit: NG

Business growth is driving Oxfordshire’s recruitment market according to the latest employment trends survey conducted by Allen Associates.

But with specialist skills and sector-specific experience in high demand, employers are being urged to be more flexible.

Allen Associates’ latest six-monthly survey of 70 Oxfordshire-based employers and HR professionals reveals that almost one-third of permanent appointments made during the second half of 2013 were for newly-created roles; a further 58 per cent were for a mixture of new and replacement positions.

One-quarter of these permanent roles were specialist or skilled while almost one-fifth were for administrative positions; 11 per cent were in marketing and 10 per cent senior management.

“Demand for quality candidates is strong across the board, but particularly for more specialist skills and experience, such as engineering and technology,” said Kate Allen, Managing Director of Oxford recruitment agency, Allen Associates. “There is already a shortage of these types of skills in Oxfordshire as well as nationally, so many organisations will be looking at the ongoing challenges in these areas.”

Family-owned, medical devices business Owen Mumford employs around 640 permanent members of staff in Woodstock and Chipping Norton as well as a network of temporary workers and contractors. HR Manager Emma Willoughby, who took part in Allen Associates’ survey, said: “We are expanding rapidly with vacancies across the business including a number of engineering-based and project management roles. We have forged links with several universities to encourage students to spend time with us on work experience and practical projects which enhance their CVs while giving them an insight into our company.

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“While the general recruitment market appears buoyant, highly experienced technical people, particularly at a senior level, are still cautious about moving from their current positions. We therefore need to ensure we adequately communicate the exciting opportunities in our business to continue to attract the right calibre of candidates to Owen Mumford.”

Sally Martin, HR Manager at environmental charity Earthwatch, which employs about 50 permanent staff in Oxford, also took part in the survey. She said: “We are in the very fortunate position of being in a field where so many people want to work, so we never have any shortage of quality applicants for our more junior roles. There are few senior roles available because we develop our people and they tend to stay with the organisation for a long time. However, when we do need to recruit highly experienced staff with the right scientific research experience or specific technical skills, it can be challenging.”

One-fifth of survey respondents admitted to having to be more flexible about their requirements.

Kate Allen said: “With some candidates now finding themselves in the enviable position of being able to choose between job offers, it helps if employers are prepared to be flexible about their requirements – for example, by being willing to train an employee who lacks sector experience but who demonstrates exceptional abilities in other areas.

“There is every indication that the jobs market will continue to strengthen in 2014 and beyond, with new challenges and opportunities in equal measure. The talent is out there and it is our role to help employers to identify the best people not just in terms of skills and experience but also in terms of their fit with the organisation, people and culture.”


To read the results of Allen Associates’ latest employment trends survey in full, visit


This article is from the May 2014 issue of Business & Professional Life