Association for Consultancy and Engineering slams recruitment agencies’ poor service

Engineering employers have hit out at recruitment agencies – blaming them for poaching staff and not helping to solve the sector’s critical skills shortages.

A report by the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), which represents many large employers in the sector, found that more than four out of five firms believed recruitment agencies offered an ‘average’ or ‘poor’ service.

The association believes agencies could do more to help fill the estimated 20,000 engineering and consultancy jobs that exist in the UK and, that by not doing so, they are putting key construction projects at risk.

More than six in 10 employers said that agencies poached staff, and the same proportion thought they charged excessive fees.

An ACE spokesman told Personnel Today: “With key construction projects such as Crossrail and the 2012 Olympic Games coming up, for the UK not to be able to fill these vacancies is unacceptable. There is a risk of the industry not being able to carry out tasks that need to be carried out.”

The ACE said that while agencies were not to blame for skills shortages, they were not always helping com­panies solve them.

“A high percentage of firms look to recruitment agencies to fill vacancies, and there are frustrations with the behaviour of some agencies,” said the spokesman.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation, which represents agencies, said the survey was more likely to be completed by employers with grievances than those who were happy with their recruitment agency.

But its head of public policy, Anne Fairweather, added: “We are working on a code of practice specific to agencies in the engineering industry, and will listen to the concerns of the ACE.”

What engineering thinks of recruitment agencies

  • “Agencies will lie about candidates receiving better offers to ratchet up their salaries and their own potential fees.”
  • “There is a lack of customer service, lack of professionalism and lack of focus on filling more difficult posts.”
  • “They need to meet our needs and listen to what we want, but they don’t. They phone constantly and can get quite rude with staff when we won’t take their calls.”

Source: ACE report

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