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Crisis management fuels demand for communications professionals within NHS

Contract Recruitment Index highlights

• There was a 17% decrease in vacancies month-on-month following a strong start to 2015
• Pockets of positivity were seen within NHS reputation management
• There was a 12% rate decrease month-on-month

Crisis management within NHS fuels demand for professional communications talent

The February 2015 London Recruitment Index registered a 17% month-on-month decrease in job availability, with 5,917 vacancies, compared to 6,095 recorded in January 2015. This dip in demand for professional talent can largely be attributed to uncertainty surrounding the upcoming General Election following a particularly strong start to 2015. Despite these headline figures, there has been a surge in demand for internal communications and public relations professionals to help manage the reputations of faltering Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) within the NHS.

Jodie Finn, Associate Director of Venn Group commented:

“It’s no surprise that uncertainty surrounding the upcoming election has temporarily impacted recruitment levels in the Capital. This political backdrop has concurrently sparked pockets of acute demand for communications and engagement specialists within the NHS to manage both internal and external relationships. Our Recruitment Index shows a huge surge in demand for these professionals to help steer the reputation of London’s CCGs, amid media reports that the service is in crisis.

“The truth is that many hospitals are simply running beyond capacity and without adequate facilities. Reports of NHS cuts, A&E departments failing to meet waiting time targets and hospital closures, have put increasing pressure on CCGs and PCTs to help manage expectations from staff, affiliates and their communities. Communications professionals may be brought on board with a specific brief to communicate efforts to improve services, help manage periods of transition internally, or improve the image of a particular hospital group amongst external stakeholders.”

Shortage of permanent professionals pushes rates up in certain areas

There was an average rate reduction for those securing new assignments in February 2015 of 12% which can largely be attributed to the temporary slowdown in hiring. Looking specifically at the public sector, there are positive signs for specialist interim professionals. This can be attributed to NHS Trusts and CCGs utilising non-clinical contract staff on a project basis to help manage change and challenges without the investment of permanent headcount costs.
Communications professionals have been able to command exceptionally lucrative rates. A Head of Corporate Engagement, for example, can expect to receive in excess of £300 per day and a Media Officer can earn a day rate of £200 in the current climate.

Election uncertainty gains momentum – but IT and digital bucks the trend

Across the private sector, the Recruitment Index reveals that employers have remained cautious over hiring decisions with the General Election so close on the horizon. Despite this, there have been notable sector fluctuations with the IT and digital arenas showing strong signs of growth.
There has been a marked increase in demand for candidates with a knowledge of specialist development frameworks, particularly around JavaScript, including Angular.js and Node.js, as organisations invest in building and maintaining their digital offering. There has also been a rise in demand for ‘Media Lab’ based professionals to work on projects to discover how organisations can best leverage technology to address business goals. The growth of IT and digital is particularly strong within the third-sector as charities capitalise on the awareness, communication and monetary advantages of top-rate digital delivery.
Finn continues:

“Despite the current caution surrounding hiring, private sector organisations are continuing to invest in developing and maintaining IT infrastructure and interfaces. This is not surprising when you consider the rapid pace of change within the digital sector – companies now recognise that IT and digital channels are vital to their future success and profitability. We are finding that more organisations are setting up teams internally to manage this function, rather than outsourcing it as was recently the case.

“Many organisations, particularly SMEs, have been seeking to bring on board multi-skilled developers – who can singularly undertake the full build of a new application or website – rather than outsourcing the project to several contractors. As such, experienced developers who have an overarching working knowledge of this area can demand in excess of £400 per day.”

ENDS

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