The Midlands Recruitment Sector in 2023

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Jack Stockport, Business Technology Manager from SF Recruitment discusses some of the key factors behind the encouraging performance of the Midlands recruitment sector.

This article was written for the Birmingham Economic Review 2023.

The review is produced by City-REDI / WMREDI, the University of Birmingham and the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. It is an in-depth exploration of the economy of England’s second city and a high-quality resource for informing research, policy and investment decisions.

Whilst it is important to note market activity (number of active vacancies being recruited) dropped by 20% in Quarter 1 it is hugely pleasing to report that the classic ‘Brummie’ spirit of innovation & adaptation has driven far better market conditions than first feared with Quarter 2 showing a return to pre-covid market conditions across the regions key growth sectors.

Key factors to explain this:

Birmingham’s excellent geographical location facilitates the easy flow of talent into the region from the North and South of the UK with investment into local transport infrastructure helping to connect our cities and widen the commutable radius for candidates.

30% lower wages than London have attracted a wide range of traditionally ‘London-centric’ businesses (HSBC, Goldman Sachs etc) creating thousands of jobs and helping support the construction sector within the city.

A Young and Diverse Society

The youngest, most diverse society in the UK is supported by five universities that themselves are attracting millions of pounds of inward investment into SciTech innovation. This is resulting in a young, entrepreneurial talent pool entering the regional job market rather than leaving for London or overseas opportunities that were commonplace pre-2018.

Public body coordination

The city is also lucky to be served by organisations such as West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), WMTech, the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and West Midlands Growth Company (WMCG) that collaborate for the shared purpose of economic growth. From a recruitment point of view, it’s these organisations that are the beating heart of the city proactively attracting businesses to the area alongside supporting the growth of existing ones.

Key growth areas

At SF we are seeing the tech sector as a key area of growth with the West Midlands being named the fastest-growing tech cluster across the UK. On a granular level, SF’s technology team have recorded a 12% 2022/2023 growth with a 20% uplift in hiring actively across the FinTech & MedTech space. This is the cumulation of the sector’s appetite for innovation, which is reflected in their dynamic, flexible hiring strategies allowing them to attract the best talent ahead of more traditional financial services organisations.

We have seen traditional manufacturing, retail & engineering firms struggle to recruit & retain staff in 2023 as they battle with raw material cost pressures, overseas competition and wage inflation.

The businesses that have succeeded in hiring have overhauled their employee value proposition offering long-term career growth and learning opportunities. This strategy is key to ensuring long-term business viability.

Wage inflation

Whilst 2022 was all about wage inflation with candidate demand for large pay rises at an all-time high 2023 is all about the ‘need for speed’ to secure top talent. Successful recruitment campaigns are being completed within three weeks with a two-stage video/ on-site interview process producing the best results. As wage inflation stabilises it’s the ability of businesses to recruit thoroughly yet at speed which is key to sustainable growth.

In summary, Birmingham is hugely fortunate to be filled with great people and businesses that have been instrumental in placing the city on the global map for innovation. It is this mindset that is laying the foundations for a hugely exciting couple of years ahead!

Read the Birmingham Economic Review in full.

This blog was written by Jack Stockport, Business Technology Manager from SF Recruitment.

The views expressed in this analysis post are those of the authors and not necessarily those of City-REDI / WMREDI or the University of Birmingham.

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