THE economic slump of recent years has made it harder than ever for young people to find jobs, according to many experts.
But Andrew Bailey is not one of them. The Henley recruitment agency boss says that in fact he struggles to find people to fill vacant roles.
Mr Bailey, who runs Andrew Bailey Recruitment Services in Quebec Road, believes too many young people aren’t prepared to work hard.
He says: “There seems to be a generational mindset that there’s an entitlement to work.
“The whole enthusiasm of ‘I want to work in an industry and want to do as much as I can to get a job by applying for as many jobs as possible’ just doesn’t seem to happen.
“Our challenge is not finding companies that are hiring, it’s actually the total opposite — the challenge is finding great talent for our clients. It’s sad because leading and emerging companies are having to look at alternatives outside the UK to get technology jobs finished.”
Mr Bailey, 40, lives in Stoke Row with his wife Kate, who is marketing director at his company, and children Lana, 11, and Freya, five.
He worked in sales for Dell and IBM before moving into recruitment with the Michael Page agency. In 1999, when he was just 26, he started his own business in Pangbourne and six years later he opened the head office in Henley.
The company, which specialises in digital media, technology marketing and creative recruitment also has an office in London. Its annual turnover has increased from £3 million to £12 million in eight years.
Mr Bailey says he wants to keep the company’s headquarters in Henley because there are many talented people who don’t want to live in London. He says he is often surprised to read reports that there are not enough jobs as he is regularly hiring professionals for both his own business and clients.
In the past couple of months, he has had six vacancies at the agency, which employs 30 people.
He says: “As a Henley-based employer, we’re always looking for great people who want to get into our industry and work in a sales environment.
“Fifty per cent of my time is involved in trying to recruit people for ourselves. Yet you read in the media that there are job losses and people can’t find jobs. We find the opposite is true.”
Mr Bailey’s agency provides training for new recruits and he says he finds it “absolutely incredible” that so many people aren’t prepared to put in the effort needed to be a success within a company.
He says: “We’ve hired everyone from graduates to people who have worked in different industries and it still doesn’t seem to make it any easier to hire great people.
“It’s ironic that we’re a recruitment business yet the biggest challenge is hiring people for our own company. It’s so difficult for us to find talent that we never get to a point where we don’t need someone. It takes so long to find people that we’re always looking.”
The agency recruits up to 200 people per year for permanent jobs in mid-senior roles and about 400 people who move regularly between companies on contracts. Its clients include BSkyB, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Channel 4 and British Gas.
Mr Bailey says many employers are now outsourcing jobs abroad, which he attributes to a skills shortage in areas such as technology and IT. “There’s a training and education gap,” he says.
“Obviously, classic education in the UK is known to be of a high standard but transferring that education into the workplace to give people practical skills, we don’t actually do very much of that as a country. There are no workshops for students showing how you learn to develop things and how to sell.
“When we get a job brief from a client we want to find four or five really good people to put on a shortlist. We might be able to find two but businesses want to interview as many people as possible to make sure they hire the best.
“They often want to fill three to five jobs at a time because they are scaling up but you are lucky to fill one. It’s no wonder then that companies are looking outside the country.”
Mr Bailey believes the sense of “entitlement” he sees in young people means they are not going out of their way to gain the skills required to join an industry. He says: “We’ve created a western culture of instant gratification where everyone wants the best of everything immediately.
“People don’t realise that to become an expert in something you have to learn your skills, which doesn’t happen overnight.
“People generally are more fickle. It’s actually very rare to see people stay with the same company for five to 10 years now, never mind 15 years.
“You end up with an underlying base of people who come and go every two years and then the odd person who stays for three or four years.
“More industries need stability. People in their twenties and thirties may be able to get away with moving around but when they get to their early forties they are going to have to explain why they’ve had nine jobs and will then have to convince employers that they are going to stick at it.”
Mr Bailey believe that graduates, in particular, are on a mission to make big bucks as fast as possible but many struggle to cope with the pressures of working life.
“They get disillusioned because they aren’t earning what they wanted straight away and leave while blaming the employer,” he says.
“Our advanced or further education doesn’t really open people’s eyes to what it is like to work in an office or sit at a desk for eight to nine hours a day.
“There’s a huge cultural shock of ‘oh my God, I’ve got some responsibility, I’ve really got to work for this. I know you said it would be hard work but actually it is hard work’. Middle of the road three- or four-year university courses just don’t set people up for going into industry at all.”
Mr Bailey believes this is a broader political issue that needs to be addressed by the Government.
He says: “How are we going to compete as a country if we can’t get students coming through to realise how they are going to be successful or run a company in the future?
“I don’t know if there’s enough engagement with industry leaders, even just providing simple talks in the education sector.”
For more information about the company, visit www.abrs.com
* In October, there were 474 unemployed people in the Henley constituency and 69 in the town, according to the Office for National Statistics. This was the fourth lowest jobless rate across all 650 constituencies in the UK. There were 85 people aged between 18 and 24 who were unemployed or not in education, including 10 in Henley town.