26/09/2006 - 22:00

Recruitment cycle never ends

26/09/2006 - 22:00

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Western Australian employers have responded to the skills shortage by making staff recruitment a continuous process.

Recruitment cycle never ends

Western Australian employers have responded to the skills shortage by making staff recruitment a continuous process.

Accounting firm Ernst & Young typifies the increased focus on staff recruitment.

“We are in the market all the time now, we recruit all the time,” managing partner Jeff Dowling said. “And that’s the change; we don’t wait for a position to become available.”

Ernst & Young is primarily targeting the group’s global network to find experienced recruits.

As a result, about 30 per cent of its recruits last year were from overseas.

“That’s a pretty big chunk when you consider not so long ago many employers would have said if you don’t have Australian experience we’re not interested,” recruitment manager Michael Shortill said.

IT consulting firm Unisys West has lifted its focus on recruiting through a strategy it called ‘warm benching’.

This involves proactively identifying potential candidates, meeting with them and introducing them to the Unisys West business before positions become available.

By spending time and money up-front, the process of filling positions when they do arise is a lot quicker and easier.

Unisys West chief executive Peter Price said the time from identifying a vacancy to sending out a letter of offer had been reduced from 45 days to eight days.

The process is managed by specialist recruiting firm Talent2, which has a database of 5,000 potential candidates, about a third from overseas.

Mr Price said the strategy had been particularly successful in attracting project managers, service delivery managers, account managers and project support officers.

He added that the strategy has also improved staff retention, with about 95 per cent of the staff recruited by Talent2 this year still with the company.

Mr Price said staff turnover in the IT sector had risen to between 25 and 35 per cent as consulting firms, private companies and government agencies competed for staff by bidding up wages.

He described the sector as being in a state of circular employment, where employers are constantly competing for the same pool of talent.

The result has been a 30 per cent spike in salary levels in the past 18 months.

Unisys West recruited about 100 people in the past year, with about 30 per cent from overseas or interstate.

“That just enhances the skill set we have got and gives us a chance to transfer those skills,” Mr Price said.

In order to boost staff retention, Unisys West highlights the career path and the challenging work opportunities it can offer.

Mr Price said the company was also very focused on flexible work arrangements, for instance by allowing staff to work from home two to four days per week, and providing appropriate computers, communication lines and furniture.

For smaller firms in the computing sector, there is no shortage of candidates but there is a big problem finding the right people.

Computer Solutions’ Kerry Busby said there were lots of young people with TAFE qualifications looking to work in computing but many did not make the grade.

“If I put an ad in tomorrow for a computer technician or a computer salesman, I’d be swamped,” Mr Busby said. “There are plenty of them out there, but getting the right staff is still an issue, as is training them up every time you lose one.”

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