HR: Demand V Supply - A Review of 2017

Posted January 19 2018 By Monica Lochrie



The key message for the HR Recruitment market of 2017 was very much one of demand vs. supply. As demand increased for temporary workers, supply decreased. Not only because of the volume of vacancies on the temporary side, but also the longer-term contract side, which often competes in attraction of candidates.

We have not seen much movement in the part-time and £40k+ generalist spaces which is filled with high calibre candidates, quite often who are able to start new positions very quickly. Salaries have increased in some key specialisms over the year and again at the junior end of the HR market, however the senior end has seen little movement.

GDPR and HRIS continue to be high on the priority list for HR teams across Scotland as companies become more data driven and with the introduction of the new GDPR Regulations as of May this year.


This year we have seen some real growth trends across the third and FMCG sectors across Central Scotland. The third sector, in particular, has seen a lot of change this past year, and a number of vacancies were born out of departmental restructures to support slicker, more commercially focussed HR teams through the implementation of business partnering. The Scottish food and drink industry, as a whole, is said to be growing at twice the rate of the UK average, according to government figures and with international collaborations such as the American trade deal, the industry is a key area of focus across a number of recruitment disciplines. As companies grow, there is an increased pressure put on HR departments which creates exciting opportunities within one of Scotland’s most lucrative industries.

There has been a huge surge in popularity of HRIS, Reward and OD specialists in the senior space this year and this is set to continue throughout 2018 with the incoming GDPR regulations and continued focus on efficiency within businesses.


One of the biggest challenges in HR recruitment over the last 12 months has been candidate availability. With a huge push on demand for temporary and contract workers, the availability of immediately available candidates has greatly reduced. This tells us that the market is busy, however, the demand has been for project based support or extra resource due to increased workload and there still seems to be a reluctance for organisations to commit to extra permanent headcount. This does, however, present an opportunity for candidates with limited to experience to gain additional practical knowledge by moving into the contract space where before, they were still competing against a high volume of very experienced candidates.

There has also been a spike in the number of HR professionals seeking part-time or flexible working, however, organisations seem hesitant to move away from the official Monday to Friday working week. Given the challenge of candidate availability, there is a real opportunity here for businesses to target a different source of candidates by looking at more flexible working arrangements.


Demand has been particularly strong across the junior end of the HR market for the 2nd year in a row which has yet again, driven an increase in the salaries at this level in order that organisations are able to attract and, importantly, retain high calibre staff. However, from £28,000 upwards, salaries haven’t moved at the same rate as those below which is causing some cross-over at Advisor level in terms of experience and making recruitment at this level slightly more challenging.

There has been an increase also in salaries across specialist areas as the demand for candidates is outstripping the availability. This mainly applies to HR Systems and Reward based roles, due to the niche number of candidates who have experience in these areas.

 In the generalist c£40k+ space, salaries have remained stagnant due to limited numbers of vacancies appearing. There has also been a trend in organisations replacing more senior positions with more junior candidates as both a cost saving and also in an effort to gain longevity from staff and offer development opportunities.

Below, I have collated average salary banding information for roles across both the generalist and specialist space based on work carried out in 2017. This is only an overview and salaries can vary greatly depending on the industry sector.

If you wish further information on this, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me on 0141 353 8389 /

Expectations for 2018

2018 is already looking to continue the demand for contract workers, particularly across project support for GDPR and systems implementations. There will be a lot of data input and collation required by HR teams in the first 6 months of this year in preparation for GDPR kick-off in May, and this extra administration strain is already seeing demand increase for HR Administrators who are able to run with GDPR project support.

HR IS implementation is a recurring theme which doesn’t look set to quieten down in 2018, as HR departments continue to become more commercial, value-add functions. Having the correct software to allow them to track and manage MI data to make key business and process improvements is becoming more and more critical.

November and December of 2017 built a fair amount of momentum and this is continuing so far, however, is very much focused around maternity cover contracts and reactive temporary requirements. With new budgets being signed off in January and into April time, this is where we expect to see a rise in permanent hires.

If you are looking for a new role, or are looking to appoint into your HR function, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Our dedicated HR Recruitment team are Scotland’s largest and we are confident that through our expert advice and guidance, we will be able to support either your search for a new opportunity or find you the top talent you need for your team.

Here’s to another busy year!


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