NI businesses spend over £30m on temp staff, but redundancies continue to rise

  • Organisations from Northern Ireland are estimated to have spent over £30m on temporary staffing to bridge skills gaps over the last year, despite 18% making redundancies to cut costs in the wake of Covid-19.

    Over half of employers from Northern Ireland (56%) report that their organisation’s survival is dependent on their ability to manage costs, according to The Open University Business Barometer.

    With 69% of organisations surveyed struggling to find the skills required to fill vacant roles, NI business leaders have turned to more expensive solutions, including 51% investing in temporary recruitment solutions and 35% increasing salaries on offer to recruit talent with the right skills.

    Having interviewed 400 UK business leaders in June 2020 for this research, The Open University is urging firms to prioritise investment in training and development as a more cost-effective, longer-term solution to the post-pandemic skills puzzle.

    While 37% of businesses in NI plan to bring back furloughed staff after the government scheme ends, nearly a quarter (24%) will be restructuring due to Covid-19, while another 20% plan to leave vacancies unfilled.

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    Half of NI employers expect to require more leadership skills over the next 12 months to navigate further challenges.

    However, this is taking its toll on recruitment times, with employers from Northern Ireland taking nearly four months on average to find suitable candidates - longer than the UK 1.8 month average.

    John D’Arcy, national director of The Open University in Ireland acknowledged that companies here “have gone through a significant and unexpected change over the past six months” but added that “leaders who prioritise the development of their people and adopt a ‘grow your own’ approach to talent acquisition will be able to adapt to any upcoming challenges more quickly, while sparing the costs incurred by buying in talent on an ad hoc basis”.

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