By Marcus Leach

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has challenged the findings of a British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) survey on recruitment services.

The report focuses on the cost and time implications of recruiting new staff but fails to recognise the role that agencies can play.

The BCC survey of over 500 small and medium-sized businesses identified recruitment as one of the biggest challenges for employers, with the time and cost flagged as main concerns.

Over 40 per cent of respondents estimated the cost of recruiting a new employee is more than £2000. Just over half used agencies occasionally, while 46 per cent said they would never use a staffing agency. Two-thirds of respondents cited high costs as a reason for not using external agencies.

Commenting on the findings of the BCC survey, Tom Hadley, the REC’s Director of Policy and Professional Services said:

“The length of time it takes to recruit is often due to ongoing skills shortages — even at a time of relatively high unemployment. We agree that finding the right person is an extremely time-consuming exercise — in fact, this one of the key reasons for using agencies with the experience and networks to source and filter appropriate candidates.

“With regards to cost, the priority has to be finding the right person for the job, someone who can contribute and make a real difference. It is worth investing some time and resource in getting it right. The reality is that the real cost of recruitment is getting it wrong."

Hadley added:

“Employment regulations are a minefield for many small companies. The fact that recruitment has become harder means that there are more reasons than ever to draw upon external expertise. One of the claims is that businesses are dissatisfied with recruitment services. However, according to the latest JobsOutlook survey, 92 per cent of employers — equivalent to nine out of 10 — are satisfied with their recruitment agencies.

“The BCC survey shows that around 50 per cent of SMEs already use external agencies. The real conclusion to be drawn is that more employers should be encouraged to use agencies as a means of solving their recruitment challenges."