Applicants ‘not good enough’ for top human resources post says HR chief

The HR chief at Tower Hamlets Council has hit out at the lack of quality candidates working in the profession across the public sector.

The local authority has been searching for a joint assistant director of HR for several months. Candidates for the £85,000-a-year role would work across both the council and primary care trust.

Deb Clarke, joint director of HR, said the fact she could not find anyone good enough for the job had been a huge disappointment.

“I think there is a dearth of talent in public sector HR,” she said. “Having just tried to recruit to this role, the [existing] bright sparks are few and far between, with the up and coming bright sparks even scarcer. That should be a cause for anxiety for the profession.”

She denied the recruitment problem was down to the borough’s reputation. The head of HR job was once described by senior figures as the “worst in local government”. But Clarke said both organisations were ambitious and had big ideas for the future.

However, Alan Warner, the Public Sector People Managers’ Association’s lead on talent, and corporate director of people and property at Hertfordshire County Council, rejected the accusation that there was a talent shortage.

“Organisations increasingly have to sell themselves as being great to work for,” he said. “But this situation is a timely reminder to all those in top positions to ensure that the people needed in the fast-changing world of HR are being equipped to take the next step.”

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