An overview of the Health & Safety job market
Demand for talented Health & Safety practitioners is high and, in many sectors and regions, the market is now heavily candidate-led. In my view, this skills shortage can be attributed to 4 main factors:
- Confidence in the economy
- Investment in business improvement
- Legislative changes
- Lack of investment in training
According to the latest Office for National Statistics employment figures, the were 31.58 million people in work in Jan-March 2016, representing a year-on-year increase of 328,000 full-time and 81,000 part-time workers. The national employment rate currently stands at 74.2%, up from 70.5% in 2011. As the public sector continues to shed jobs, the private sector is flourishing with 2016 economic growth in the UK forecast at 2% against a Eurozone average of 1.6%.
Increased employment combined with a positive economic outlook has encouraged businesses to invest in Health & Safety in line with their improved activity and actual or planned growth.
Many organisations are taking the opportunity to utilise effective Health & Safety management as part of a wider business improvement strategy. When Health & Safety is treated as an investment, organisations naturally want to see a return and this can be measured in a number of ways:
- Performance – work-related ill health, accidents, injuries and enforcement action
- Financial savings – insurance premiums, absence from work and personal injury claims
- Financial gains – winning new business and improving productivity among staff
- Reputation – positive culture and reputation (internal and external) is good for business
These are just some of the business benefits of effective Health & Safety management, not taking account of obvious legislative and moral responsibilities.
Over recent years, the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act has helped to ensure a top-down commitment to Health and Safety in the workplace. This has led to a greater appreciation of the benefits of effective Health & Safety management and increased demand for Health & Safety professionals.
New legislation such as CDM 2015 has changed the way that designers, clients, consultants and contractors view Health & Safety. The legislation aims to improve accountability and promote a proportionate approach to Health & Safety. Other regulatory changes such as the HSE’s Fee For Intervention cost recovery scheme have also helped to encourage accountability.
Training and development
We are now suffering the effects of a lack of training, development and job opportunities for junior and entry-level staff throughout the recession. As is becoming obvious on our health and safety jobs page, this skills shortage combined with increased demand is good news for any experienced Health & Safety professionals who are benefitting from increased salaries and a better selection of job opportunities. There is still a reluctance to invest in training and development as many organisations need these skills and experience to meet their immediate needs.
Many Health & Safety professionals have not yet benefitted from the high level of demand for their skills, knowledge and experience as pay scales have not been adjusted to reflect market conditions.
We expect significant market movement over the course of the next 12 months, as organisations compete to attract and retain experienced Health & Safety professionals. There’s also an expectation that the contract and interim market will continue to grow, providing interim coverage for vacant permanent positions and as a means of accessing specialist skills on a project basis.
Guest Post by Steven Bryan, Director at Bryan & Armstrong Ltd, a market-leader Health & Safety recruiter.