Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Stacking Up The Employment Figures

The past week or so has been an interesting one for the government.  On one hand, Ian Duncan Smith was trumpeting the release of figures showing that the UK had more people in employment than ever before, whilst in the other breath he was under fire for crass comments surrounding a Geology graduate who took umbrage at her own, government sponsored  ticket to join the record pool of workers, stacking shelves for nothing at a pound store.

As a Recruiter, any positive news around the employment market is more than welcome and the news that almost 30 million people are now in a job is, of course, something to celebrate.  However, the figures are not as straightforward as they first may seem.  Firstly, over 8 million of those roles are part-time.  This in itself, in my own opinion is also partly cause for celebration and speaks volumes for the more flexible workplace that we have come to expect in 2013.  Certainly, at Exclusive we have seen the part-time job market flourish in the past two to three years and in my own field of recruitment, HR, there is generally even more scope for part-time working.  However, it was also interesting to read that of these 8 million part time workers, almost 1.5 million were ‘involuntary’ and were held by people that were only in their roles as they couldn’t find full-time work.

Youth unemployment fell back to below 1 million and this brings us on to the furore surrounding Cait Reilly, the student given the choice of ‘unpaid work experience’ at Poundland or losing her benefits.  That she refused and subsequently took the government’s workfare scheme to court and won clearly rattled Mr.Duncan-Smith and he lashed out claiming that she ‘thought she was too good for this sort of stuff’.
The recruiter in me winced from all angles.  On the face of it, a young lady who has paid herself through university to gain a degree must surely have more skills to bring to the market than simply stacking shelves in a supermarket?  At the same time though, work experience is more vital than ever before for graduates entering the market.  I think that the point missed by the Work and Pensions Secretary is that the sort of experience that employers are looking for is RELEVANT experience rather than just ‘this sort of stuff’.  In his broadside, the ex-Conservative leader managed to upset graduates across the land, patronise shelf stackers and paint a fairly depressing picture of exactly what those nigh on 30 million jobs are actually made up of.

In reality, the situation IS far less depressing than that though.  Graduates who take it upon themselves to actively pursue (at times unpaid) work experience in their chosen field put themselves in a great position when it comes to applying to paid jobs.   The job market itself, in our own opinion, has really picked up again in the early part of 2013 and as a business we are as busy as ever, placing professionals across a range of functions.  There is clearly a lot of substance in the figures being both correct and also in tallying with what we see from the ground.

Long may the records continue to be broken but at the same time, let’s value the talent that we have in the country rather than do them down – the graduates of today are the key to our remaining competitive in the future and to the employment figures continuing to rise for years to come.

Gareth Harrison

Managing Consultant 
Exclusive: Recruitment & HR Consultancy
Newcastle, Leeds & Aberdeen

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Is Early Retirement Set to Become a Thing of the Past in the UK?

There’s no escaping the fact that the UK has an aging population. Thanks to the post-war ‘baby boom’ and major improvements in healthcare and living standards, the population is higher than it’s ever been, and people are living longer than ever before.
Currently, there are 10 million people aged over-65 in the UK. The Government projects this figure will reach 15.5 million by 2030, increasing to 19 million by 2050. And around half of those 19 million will be aged 80 or above!

As stated on Parliament.UK, “continuing to provide state benefits and pensions at today’s average would mean additional spending of £10 billion a year for every additional one million people over working age.” Simply put, that’s just not sustainable.

The British coalition Government is due to publish major pensions reforms imminently, but it’s already becoming clear that increasing life expectancy means people will have to keep working for longer in future.

Pensions minister Steve Webb has warned that workers currently in their 30s should forget about retiring early, but admitted that the Government doesn’t actually have a clue quite how long they’ll have to continue working!

Speaking to the House of Lords, Webb said:

“For us, if people are going to live on average to late 80s and beyond, retiring in late 50s is just never going to make the sums add up.

“I had a police officer who came to me the other day and complained that we had stopped him retiring at 52. We just can’t do this any more.

“If someone tells a 30 year old what their state pension age is going to be, they are lying.”

What we do know is that, from April 2017 at the earliest, a new flat-rate state pension of £144 a week will be introduced. The reforms also mean that workers will have to have made 35 years of National Insurance payments (up from 30 at present) to qualify for a full state pension.

In 2018, the state pension age for women will be increased to 65, bringing it in line with men. This will rise to 66 by 2020 and 67 by 2028. Further into the future, the state pension age will be linked automatically to national life expectancy increases, whilst any increases to the figure paid will be based on factors including the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Meanwhile, those relying on private pensions when they retire may also suffer as a result of the Governments plans for dealing with the nation’s aging population; many private pension funds pay out more year-by-year in line with the Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation, but the way RPI is calculated may be set to change.

This could deliver a ‘hammer blow’ to pensioners, according to many campaigners, whilst Ros Altman, director-general at Saga, has warned:

“Simply dumbing down RPI would mean many people lose out on their inflation protection.  This affects millions of people with pensions linked to RPI as well as nearly 1 million with National Savings inflation linked bonds or other RPI linked investments.”

So are the days of early retirement really over already, or is this just a natural, gradual change that we shouldn’t worry about? A recent Aviva study found that 23% of 65-74-year-olds were still working in December 2012 – up from just 18% in February 2010.

It seems clear that “60 is the new 40 in 2013 for retiring baby boomers”. For the generation that follows them, 80 may well become the new 60.

This guest post has been written by Kimberley Byrne

Exclusive: Recruitment & HR Consultancy

Newcastle, Leeds & Aberdeen

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Tweet your way to the dream job

So, I have spoken a couple of times now about the dangers of social media when it comes to the workplace and what not to do if you would like to be employed. But rather than everyone cancel their profiles and become afraid to go near such sites, I've decided to come back and talk about the positive side of having a social media presence. 

Although you can risk so much by putting certain things online, you can also increase your chances of employment and use the internet as an ‘online CV’ in ways.

Take, for example, LinkedIn. Now I know this site’s purpose is to act as a professional networking site, but it is worth having one as you can connect to the relevant people you need to be liaising with.
As such, LinkedIn allows you to state the key skills that you obtain and what you could bring to a company. These skills can be endorsed and recommendations can be made by previous employers, colleagues or tutors. There are also groups to join on LinkedIn which allow you to comment on, start conversations with others in the same profession and generally, network to allow yourself to further your career!

Moving on from LinkedIn and on to the 2 most popular personal social media sites...

Facebook- Set up originally by the curly-haired genius, Mark Zuckerburg, ‘Facemash’ as it was then called was created as a way in which Harvard students could interact with one another. A directory, if you will. Nowadays Facebook has expanded so much that it almost fits in as a natural part of a lot of people’s day to day lives.

Similarly, the basis behind Jack Doresy’s Twitter was to enable your friends to see what you are doing in 140 characters (or a ‘tweet’ as it is known as). You wouldn't call your nearest and dearest up to inform them that you are making a cup of coffee now, would you? But by putting it on Twitter, you are letting them know what you are up to. In fact, Twitter is becoming so popular now that everyone has become a ‘citizen journalist’ in some form or another.

 So, it makes sense that employers will use these platforms when recruiting, right?

To make the most of your Facebook and Twitter profiles:
  • ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ groups that are relevant to your skills and the roles that you would be looking for
  • Don’t state on your status or ‘tweet’ that you are an expert in your field, show it instead by uploading information and opinions about it
  • Share links that interest you and show a personal interest in what you do and want to be doing
  • If you have personal hobbies, show this- link any personal websites you have to your profile
  • Use the # feature on Twitter to actually search for new jobs
  • If there is anything you can show to support information on your CV, put this on- if it states that you volunteer for a charity, post photos of you doing so

It might sound obvious and to those who prefer the old fashioned way of searching for jobs and applying for them, just bear this in mind. Surely it is better to have a profile that boosts your chances, rather than not having one- or even worse, one that completely hinders your reputation…. 

Siobhan Baranian

Exclusive: Recruitment & HR Consultancy
Newcastle, Leeds & Aberdeen

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Employment Law Event

Our Annual Employment Law Event has been confirmed for Thursday 28th February 2013.  The event is hosted by Eversheds in conjunction with Exclusive and will take place at Central Square North, Orchard Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne at 5pm.

Last year the event went ahead despite the high winds and driving rain and we were all blown away by the ever ambiguous answers to those all important legislative quiz questions presented to the audience by Employment Law Partners of Eversheds, Simon Loy and Shirley Wright.

This year, we can’t promise high winds and driving rain but undoubtedly the weather will be a conversation starter between attendees as networking HR professionals may wish to discuss and compare their ‘Adverse Weather’ policies following the recent snow falls.

This is always a popular event. Informal, informative and always topical as the partners present their understanding of the current and proposed amendments for 2013 with case law to support learning experiences that evening. 

Perhaps they will enlighten us on the new compensation limits, parental leave updates, new statutory payments, plans to reduce consultation periods and the draft changes to the online criminal records checking service. No doubt they will surprise us with examples of how employers and employees have got it oh so right and oh so wrong on occasion!

We hope you can join us for this annual review of recent employment law developments and forthcoming changes to watch out for.

To ensure your place at the event, please contact us at events@exclusiveltd.co.uk

Lead HR Consultant
Exclusive: Recruitment & HR Consultancy
Newcastle, Leeds & Aberdeen

Friday, 1 February 2013


So Aretha Franklin sang about it and I have decided to talk about it today, albeit in not quite such an entertaining way as Ms. Franklin. Although we all know that you can’t say the word without singing (in your mind, hopefully) the word...

I decided to bring this up as an extension of last week’s post which was about the use of social media and how what you decide to share with the public can have serious consequences on whether or not you find yourself sending out CVs again. Regardless of personal opinion, you should have enough respect for your employer- and yourself- to know that it is not acceptable to publicly jeopardise a reputation.

But let’s take this a step further than social media. It is important that the workplace is a comfortable place to be. After all, you spend a large part of your week there, so wouldn’t life be better if it was a place in which you get on with the people you spend 9 hours a day with?

Respect is a very personal thing and if someone in your business feels that they aren’t being respected by someone, be it another employee or a Manager, then it could have a huge impact on office morale.

Now, we all know that everyone is an individual. We all have our own opinions, beliefs, religions and we were all brought up differently, so there are of course going to be times that personalities may ‘clash’ in the office. This probably happens on a daily basis in a lot of places, and most people accept the differences and move on, with no bad feelings.

But what if it does get out of hand? Employee relations are an imperative part of any business and if they are not controlled then they can have a damaging impact on the workplace; productivity, motivation and morale can all be affected.

This is where businesses would benefit greatly from a HR consultant. Someone who can be impartial to views, and who wants to do their best to settle any problems that have arisen. With the correct legislation, regulations and agreements between those involved, something that could damage a company can be controlled and, in turn, peace restored.

Exclusive has a number of professional HR Consultants who are experts in this field and offer outplacement support for a wide range of issues, including Employee Relations.

If the issues brought up in this post sound familiar, why not call one of our Consultants to see what we can do to help save the morale in your office?

Internet Marketing Consultant

Exclusive: Recruitment & HR Consultancy
Newcastle, Leeds & Aberdeen