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Norwich recruiters say companies must be willing to pay more for skills

James Gooderham and Su Harvey, directors at The Personnel People in All Saints Green, Norwich. Picture: Bethany Whymark

James Gooderham and Su Harvey, directors at The Personnel People in All Saints Green, Norwich. Picture: Bethany Whymark

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Businesses need to ensure they are offering a fair deal to skilled employees to fill workforce gaps, according to two Norwich recruitment experts.

The Personnel People in Norwich. (L-R) John Revell, recruitment consultant, James Mason, trainee recruitment consultant, and directors James Gooderham and Su Harvey. Picture: Bethany WhymarkThe Personnel People in Norwich. (L-R) John Revell, recruitment consultant, James Mason, trainee recruitment consultant, and directors James Gooderham and Su Harvey. Picture: Bethany Whymark

Businesses need to ensure they are offering a fair deal to skilled employees to fill workforce gaps, according to two Norwich recruitment experts.

James Gooderham and Su Harvey, from The People Personnel on All Saints Green, believe some job candidates are being undervalued by hiring firms, and by agencies helping them to find work.

Company directors Ms Harvey and Mr Gooderham, who have 26 years’ collective experience at the firm, said employers in sectors like construction and logistics were reluctant to shell out more for higher staff wages and the associated tax contributions.

“Businesses do not want to pay the other costs that go hand in hand with increasing pay,” Ms Harvey said.

“It is difficult educating them in that respect because they are thinking about the bottom line. It would be lovely to put the rates up in line without thinking about it but that is difficult.

“We work with the businesses to convince them of the value of a particular role, but you always have other agencies ready to undercut you which pushes down the rates.”

Ms Harvey said greater demand for skilled workers in industries such as construction was starting to show in the pay on offer.

“After the financial crisis construction took a tumble and the pay took a dive. Construction jobs last year were at a premium, it has plateaued a bit but it is a really busy sector and pay is coming up accordingly,” she said.

Mr Gooderham added: “In specific trades there is a lack of skills around to fill the gap. We have been hearing that from employers and candidates alike.”

Since the Brexit vote a year ago Mr Gooderham said the company had seen an increase in unskilled labourers coming from the EU, while the flow of skilled staff had slowed.

Ms Harvey felt Norwich had been “insulated from the big EU immigration waves”, for example those which occurred after a number of Eastern European countries joined the bloc in the early 2000s.

If opting out of free labour movement caused staff shortages the pair said incentivising more people in the UK into work would be key.

But they revealed the firm’s once-close relationship with the Jobcentre had been diminished after changes to the welfare system saw application targets for jobseekers implemented.

There was also a lack of understanding among some claimants who had been moved to the new universal credit system about the hours they were able to work, Mr Gooderham said.

The Personnel People, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, is the oldest independent recruitment firm in Norwich and covers sectors from transport and warehousing to catering and customer services.

The company opened its first office in London Road in 1987 before moving to All Saints Green around 23 years ago.

It used to have offices in Great Yarmouth and Thetford but these were closed as the firm worked to streamline its offering.

Mr Gooderham said: “Day by day we go up against national agencies but we stand our ground.”

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