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Futureproofing the HR function

Are HR hiring managers creating future skills shortages by failing to provide entry-level positions for new graduates?

Almost half of the HR managers surveyed for the Hays Canada 2016 Salary Guide said they were experiencing at least a moderate skills shortage. This is interesting because in our experience recruiting we’re seeing quite a few available candidates in the market. However, the difference seems to be that these candidates don’t have the exact skills that employers want.

For example, one pattern we’re seeing is a desire to find candidates with hybrid skills in combinations that could be difficult to find, such as compensation and talent acquisition. These types of combination roles are becoming more common, and one-third of employers say they are combining roles to manage internal talent gaps. But when employers want one candidate to do two jobs, is it surprising that they’re not finding the exact skills they need?

A surprising number of HR respondents (34%) cite fewer people entering the industry as the reason for skills shortages. However, we have seen high numbers of new graduates struggle to find their first HR role and interpret the survey response as reflecting the difficulty finding those with two to five years of experience. Many employers have essentially done away with entry-level roles, looking for at least two years of work experience for what in previous years would have been filled by a graduate.

HR professionals with a few years’ experience can hit the ground running faster than new graduates, so it’s understandable that given the choice many employers are looking for that experience. However, if employers continue to be hesitant to hire entry-level candidates, this mismatch between employer demand and market availability will worsen.

We asked employers about how they were attracting candidates, and most are focused on salaries and company culture, rather than on offering career progression and training opportunities. Training is no longer a nice-to-have. It is a necessity, not only as a candidate attraction tool, but as a crucial step towards reducing internal skills gaps and creating a leadership pipeline.

HR leaders need to look at their current teams and future plans to ensure they are nurturing the talent they will need in the future. While every organization will have its own hiring needs, if the trend away from hiring new graduates continues we could see a serious skills shortage for junior and intermediate HR talent, especially in niche areas where opportunities for on-the-job training are becoming scarce.

Learn more about the HR labour market. Request a copy of the Hays Canada 2016 Salary Guide.

Hays Canada division manager Rachel Finan has more than 14 years of experience working in HR recruitment, She excels in making the right match and brings expert insight into market trends, employer needs, and candidate requirements.

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