Huge demand for top purchasers...

19 July 2006
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20 July 2006 | Rebecca Ellinor

The demand for procurement talent has risen in certain areas over the past six months, according to purchasing recruitment firm Purcon.

Its latest survey of trends found that large-scale projects such as Wembley Stadium, Heathrow's T5 and preparation for the 2012 Olympics, has pushed the construction industry to the forefront of the race for talent. Contract management skills are particularly sought after.

Tony English, managing director at Purcon, said demand is high: "There has been pressure on construction recruitment with major projects being undertaken, such as the Olympics."

While there has been a scramble for good staff in large cities, the survey found companies operating outside of these areas are finding it even more difficult to recruit. It found talented staff move from regional areas to larger locations where the salaries, benefits and opportunities to progress are better. It added that highly qualified overseas staff also tend to head for the cities.

Purcon said the dearth of candidates has led to employers offering salary rises, extra perks, flexible working, home-working or job shares.

It also noted that a focus on cost savings has led to procurement specialists being brought into the public sector to drive down costs.

The research found a shortage of skilled permanent staff has led to increased demand for interims. But there aren't enough temporary specialists to meet demand in IT and marketing, leading to increased day rates. Permanent staff in these areas are also in demand.

"People realise there are big savings to be made on these services and if they've never tackled it before they need someone who's experienced," said English.

The research showed that companies are increasingly focusing on their core business and outsourcing anything peripheral. More UK firms outsourcing their manufacturing and assembly overseas has also led to demand for transactional purchasers for posts across Europe, South Africa and Dubai.

***See News Focus, page 13***

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