Slow train to Port Elizabeth

The next stop on our journey through the PCS universe is to Port Elizabeth, where we caught up with Bruce Jennings, the branch manager in the windy city, for his take on local trends in recruitment.

Q:  Bruce, tell us a bit about yourself. What did you do before you got into recruitment?

Bruce: My working history has predominately been in the Supply Chain Management industry until I started working in the recruitment industry. For the last five years I have concentrated mainly on recruitment in the building and civil industry.

Q: What would you say are the biggest challenges and opportunities for recruitment in your sector?

Bruce: The biggest challenges has been on the client side of the business. Many of them are battling to get enough work to be profitable. From a recruitment perspective, this translates into doing random placements to replace staff who leave the company, but not much in the way of placements on new projects in the region. A number of my clients do municipal work and they too are under pressure due to poor administration in many of the municipal offices. There are opportunities, however, in that there are top caliber candidates in the Eastern Cape who are prepared to look at opportunities anywhere as long as there is enough work to give them longer contracts.

Q: Is this a particularly tough market, and if so, how are you overcoming this?

Bruce: In this tough market the only way to survive is to really service the clients who are asking for people as quickly and accurately as possible. They are very picky due to there being so many candidates available so you need to be accurate.

Q: Do you find growing interest from skilled candidates to work outside SA? If so, why is this?

Bruce:   There is an element of desperation in the lives of some candidates who struggle to find work. They are extending themselves further and further from their homes just to provide an income for their families. At the end of the day they will go where there is work. This inevitably means their salary expectations are more flexible than was the case in the past.

Q: What is the outlook for recruitment in your sector over the next 12 months?

Bruce: The outlook is still a bit of a gloomy one because the problems I mentioned earlier in the municipal offices will not be fixed overnight. There is talk of some large infrastructure projects to be awarded but we have to be patient with the process. In the meantime we continue to service our existing clients and keep them happy.

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