Oakleaf Partnership Market Update – Confidence Growing in Commerce Industry, Not for Profit and the UK Markets

The optimism in the market just keeps coming with Goldman making a bold claim this week that the UK will bounce back this year faster than the US – they are expecting 7.8% GDP growth this year and they are not the only ones to be upgrading the UK’s economic fortunes. The Bank of England is now predicting a period of rapid growth over the next six months and recent forecasts from Deloitte, EY and Deutsche support this. Consumer confidence has increased at its fastest rate in a decade over the last three months and with households predicted to have saved £150 billion during COVID, there is an assumption that that confidence will fuel additional spending that will drive the growth. Let’s hope so!!

(Source: Vacancysoft)

We have seen continued growth across the HR recruitment space. There was a bit of blip at Easter (no surprises there) and we have not seen the impact of IR35 to the extent that we might yet which is very promising news.

In this edition, Amy Morris gives valuable insight into our Commerce and Regional practices. There is also positive news from the city where the Financial Services practice have seen the biggest jump in job numbers in the last 18 months and from a holistic Oakleaf point of view last week saw the biggest week for new HR jobs in over 12 months!

Commerce & Industry

Almost ten weeks on from our last update I am delighted to say that we are still seeing the energy and excitement in the market we were in February. The news is flooded with positive comments about economic recovery and how confidence is ever increasing, long may it continue.

(Source: Vacancysoft)

Internally, we also have seen our team and market confidence grow with two new hires to the team. Richard Walton has joined our Industry, Science and Consumer Interim markets team and Rachael Bailey has taken a leadership role in out Not for Profit team.

Our sub teams are also starting to return to the beloved pre-COVID days, where they Industry and Science and TMT sectors are behaving differently. I referenced the increased desire to invest in my last update and this is still evident in the market, particularly in our TMT team. We have seen a significant increase in requirements for recruiters and first-in HR Business Partners to be able to deliver both operationally and strategically. In addition to this, Europe has become a focus with investment in shared services and new offices. We have seen a particular focus on Germany, Italy and Hungry for mid-level HR talent, with language skills being a requirement.

Our Industry, Science and Consumer team is a tale of two stories. Industry and Science is storming ahead with a huge focus on Talent, Engagement, Learning and D&I. This acceleration for change is being seen with both a rise in interim mid-level Talent Acquisition roles, as well as a surge of permanent specialist senior roles. The fight for top talent in this space is certainly on. Whilst recovering at a slower pace we have certainly seen an increased appetite to hire from our consumer clients. This is mainly coming from our FMCG customers but scales across both global FTSE100 businesses as well as smaller UK based businesses who are in growth mode.

Not for Profit

Rachael Bailey who joins us to lead our Not-for-Profit business has said although it is fair to say it has been a challenging year, especially within the Not-for-Profit sector, we are encouraged by positive signs of hiring activity’. She, like many, has recognised that it may take some time for us to see the real impact of COVID-19 however there is no question that Boards and Trustees will need top talent to help them thrive again. This is because, consequently, charities have experienced not only a drop off in donations, but also the loss of voluntary income from large fundraising events, coupled with a corresponding rise in demand for services. In turn, housing, education, and professional bodies will be facing similar concerns with potential funding constraints yet their purpose remains. It appears more than ever, with reflection, people are striving for their own purpose and self-worth. This shift in motivation, caused by the pandemic, has led to an even greater amount of highly skilled individuals, searching for their next role within a non-commercial organisation. Always the optimist, Rachael thinks that ‘we must look at this as a real gain for the sector and embrace having access to additional HR professionals, seeking deeper fulfilment from their careers’.


I am delighted to say that our regional business goes from strength to strength, with almost 100% increase in HR jobs seen since my last update. We have also grown internally with Gavin Jones joining as a Partner to lead the division and Hannah Whittington joining Zoe Case in our Thames Valley business.

(Source: Vacancysoft)

Midlands and North

The Midlands and the North is leading the way in this recovery, holding 75% of our regional opportunities. As seen in our London business, we have seen a huge requirement for talent within the professional service industry across all HR, Reward and Payroll. We are still seeing the main requirement being permanent hiring, represented in 65% of our portfolio currently. The most significant change to this market, which has remained, is the increasing flexibility to where candidates are based. Whether it be the recognition that employees can deliver remotely or simply a requirement to reduce inner city employee costs we are now seeing a serious shift in attitude. This has particularly aided companies who are looking for niche experience or top talent. Currently the financial and professional services industries are leading the way. Hopefully, C&I and Not for Profit will follow soon.

Thames Valley

Thames Valley has seen a steadier recovery with technology and pharmaceuticals firms unsurprisingly leading the way. Whilst there has been a real blend of generalist and specialist roles, we are seeing higher demand for most that have strategic input. The speed to hire has undoubtedly increased with a higher volume of temporary to permanent opportunities hitting the market. There has also been an increase of available talent from candidates who no longer wish to commute into the City. Whilst the big firms such as Microsoft, Cisco, Vodafone, and GSK are still hiring, smaller less globally known firms are equally competitive in the market for top talent. They are being more creative to attract talent by having top level packages which critically include wellbeing and family friendly benefits that are becoming more alluring to some.

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