HR professionals have been warned to expect much tougher competition in the jobs market following thousands of redundancies in the sector.
The past few months have seen a cull of HR practitioners within personnel departments across both the public and private sectors, meaning a wave of new candidates entering the market.
More cuts are expected, and recruitment experts said they expect many large companies to review their HR functions, with a view to making them smaller.
Last week, Barclays said it was slashing a quarter of jobs from its HR department in an attempt to make it more efficient. And communications firm Marconi and computer giant IBM also revealed massive job losses, with HR likely to be among those jobs to go.
Earlier this year, hundreds of HR jobs at the BBC, motoring services group RAC and department store Allders were lost. The implementation of the Gershon efficiency review will see swathes of HR cuts across the Civil Service.
Gareth Jones, managing director of consultancy Courtenay HR, said he was unsure whether there was the level of work available to sustain the number of new candidates entering the market.
“Specialists are still in demand, but we tell HR generalists: ‘Think how long you think you’ll be out of a job, and double it,'” he said.
Further market pressure is likely with the number of graduates looking to pursue a career in HR holding firm, according to Mark Brewer, partner at consultancy Frazer Jones.
However, the situation is not all doom and gloom. The growing trend to outsource HR will see new opportunities opening up.
Brett Walsh, head of human capital at professional services firm Deloitte, said: “Those lost jobs will migrate to outsourcing companies. In the next five to 10 years around 50% of all HR jobs will be with outsourcing suppliers.”
Ben Willmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said many HR professionals now had skills they could easily shift to outsourcing companies or other areas of business.
“HR is now at the heart of much of the change in business and HR professionals at a certain level have skills they can transfer to other functions,” he said.
HR cuts at Barclays
Barclays is the latest of a number of companies to announce job losses from its HR department.
Last week, the bank said it was cutting around a quarter of the 900 HR jobs in an attempt to increase efficiency.
The plan, which is already in motion, will involve up to 275 redundancies at the bank’s head office in London, where HR is centralised.
A spokeswoman said: “We are pushing HR professionals out to the businesses they support and closer to the issues they deal with.” She was unable to rule out any compulsory redundancies.
Last month, Barclays signed a new five-year partnership agree-ment with the Amicus union – one of the central elements being the avoidance of compulsory redundancies wherever possible.
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