Skills shortages in HR department

Hi all:

I'm really curious as in what are the trends of skills shortages in the HR markets within the UK? I wanted to find out the answers from reports from perhaps CIPD website, however the reports or articles I had seen are mainly the skills shortages of UK in general, which do not completely answer my questions.

Any comments would be greatly appreciated!


  • In the traditional sense they aren't any really - there are a surplus of candidates for HR jobs  - I am interested in what is driving your questions.

    But if pushed I would say the biggest "gaps" as opposed to shortages are around:

    • True commercial acumen and judgement
    • Understanding and appreciation of finance and the balance sheet
    • Operational experience

    In terms of any HR specialisms maybe

    • Commercial comp and benefits people who can translate a spread sheet / plan into something meaningful and articulate it 
    • OD ( in the sense of organisation design rather than T&D) people who can at a strategic level help organisations create the real structures and dynamic they need 
  • In reply to Keith:

    Thank you Keith. To be honest I wanted to know about the gaps so maybe I can focus on the gaps myself.

    When you mention about operational experience, did you elaborate this point to the last bullet point( organization design)

    Thank you!
  • In reply to Mingchun Paula:

    No they are separate points

    The first one references my belief that too few HR people have had any real operational experience - out there doing the real job. The core essence of the organisation. They have spent their entire careers in HR. Its a bit like professional politicians who have sailed through life without finding out what happens in the "real" world.

    The OD point is around a very specific skill set that is normally needed in large organisations. How do you design the organisation to operate effectively.
  • In reply to Keith:

    I see. In this case, I find it a bit sad that so many professional are still lack of real practical experiences, I thought they would would have been in they've been working in the field for so many years?
  • In reply to Mingchun Paula:

    No that's rather the point....they have been working in HR departments for so many years. Does working in a HR department = working in the field - maybe not
  • In reply to Keith:

    I had a spell working as an Accounts Assistant before I worked in HR, and it definitely gave me a broader perspective on things even at a relatively low level. It helped me look at the big picture, and do things like flagging up forthcoming employment costs to allow accounts to accrue for them so there wasn't a major hit on the P & L all at once.
  • In reply to Ishbel:

    Thank you very helpful :)
  • You should try to narrow down the area you’re looking at. Keith’s right saying there is a surplus of candidates for HR jobs in the UK overall. However, if you’d look at Wales or Scotland the picture will be different. If you’d drill down even deeper, you’d find that in particular regions the gaps can be quite big. The bottom line is lack of practical experience Keith mentioned. The problem is there are hardly any employers offering experience placement for more strategic roles. The best option would be to gain experience in London and move west or travel up north to look for job, which I have to admit sounds quite bizarre…
  • In reply to Keith:

    I have spent my entire career in Personnel/HR but most of those roles have been highly operational and stand alone.

    I fully accept your point however
  • In reply to Mingchun Paula:

    There is a lot to be said for the Maoist approach of people going back to the field. Unfortunately it got distorted into the Cultural Revolution madness/purge.
  • I have found reading the comments on this to be extremely interesting. As someone who has an operational background, I am finding it next to impossible to career change into HR (despite my CIPD and my experience) as the response I get from all recruitment companies and job adverts is that I don't have experience in HR!

    Reading Keith's comments - I have excellent commercial acumen, can confidently read and interpret spreadsheets and have worked leading organisational change. However, these do not appear to be skills which are being actively sought through HR recruitment.

    So, I suspect any skills shortage within HR comes not from a real shortage of skills in the market but more from a problem with recruitment methodology being used to find them.