Posted by: Sarah Westwood

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Midlands region reports fastest increase in employment across the UK

It doesn’t come as a surprise to the Oakleaf Midlands team that the region has reported the fastest increase in employment in the UK in February 2018, with the East Midlands being the fastest growing economy for a second month running. It is clear from speaking with our clients across the region that confidence levels in the regional economy are very high at present.

Since returning from the Christmas break and through the first 3 months of 2018, we experienced unprecedented new jobs numbers, with a 107% increase in the number of HR roles (compared to the previous 6 months), and an 86% increase in new job numbers compared to the same period in 2017.

We have seen several significant trends over the last 3 months. There has been a noticeable increase in the number of specialist roles, with a huge increase in the number of Learning and Development roles. Businesses are making changes not only to their L&D functions but across their wider business, requiring skilled L&D professionals to play key roles in influencing changes across culture, behaviours and most notably in performance.

We have also seen a significant increase in the demand for recruitment skills. Our clients have been focused on hiring the best talent in the most efficient way, hiring skilled recruiters into their business to allow them to take control of their employer brand, direct hire strategy and cost of hire. We have also experienced the desire from our clients to up skill their existing in-house recruitment teams and drive a more commercial approach to hiring quickly and effectively, with a move away from RPOs.

The challenge to find skilled and commercial business partners remains. We have seen numerous cases of high calibre HR Business Partners finding roles very quickly and having several roles to choose from. Salaries have started to rise as scarce skills are driving base salaries up. This has been a gradual change over the last 12 months but in the Midlands, we have experienced a trend in the last 3 months with organisations based here paying almost as much as 15% more for skilled HR Business Partners, L&D professionals and skilled recruiters.

In terms of our own business in the Midlands we have experienced clients desire to build closer recruitment partnerships with their external recruitment partners. Clients want to invest in those relationships to help secure the best talent in the market place. The Midlands market is buoyant, but it can be challenging to navigate for both candidates and clients, so we have worked closely with several organisations over the last few months in building new HR departments and handling multiple roles. For example, we have recently completed a large project with the Princes Trust in recruiting their new HR operations team for their new office based at Cold Storage building in central Birmingham.

More recent trends have been an increase in the demand for HR interims to deliver on a range of projects including change, restructures and GDPR compliance.

To find out more about how Oakleaf can support you in hiring talent for your team, can assist in your own job search, or for sector insights about the HR recruitment market in Birmingham and the North West, please call Sarah Westwood on 0121 270 4639 or email

We also run several events throughout the year, discussing key HR trends in the Midlands region. If you want to find out more about GDPR and its potential impact on your business, we are hosting a breakfast seminar in Birmingham on Thursday 19th April. We have some limited places left – click here to view the invite and get in touch to secure your place.

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