Last week the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published the annual snapshot of the UK’s occupational profile, as obtained from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) in the second quarter (April-June) this year. I’ve been comparing the numbers employed in each occupational category back to 2011 (reliable comparison with earlier data is not possible because of changes to way in which occupations are classified).
Those interested in the broader findings might like to see today’s Financial Times and The Telegraph. But given that many readers of this blog work are HR professionals I thought I’d focus here on the number of people employed in HR management and development roles.
According to the LFS there are currently 414,000 people employed as HR managers and directors (138,000), HR officers (130,000) or vocational and industrial trainers or instructors (146,000). The total is 6,000 (+1.5%) higher than in 2012, which was also 6,000 higher than the total in 2011. This is a healthy increase - in percentage terms just a little shy of the corresponding increase in total UK employment – especially since public sector HR has been under considerable pressure in recent years
However, all of the net employment growth since 2011 has been in HR manager and director (up 24,000, +21%) and HR officer (up 1,000, +0.8%) roles. By contrast the training profession has taken a hit – down 7,000, -4.4% - perhaps also linked to public spending cuts but disappointing given constant business rhetoric about upskilling the UK workforce.
HR remains a strongly feminised sector. 6 in 10 people working in HRD are women – the proportion of women highest amongst HR officers (73%) and HR managers and directors (61%), though there are equal proportions of men and women in training roles.
Adjusting for statistical re-classification the total UK HRD workforce is now around 60,000 (17%) bigger than in 2001 when these estimates were first provided on an annual basis. More people therefore now work in HR than in entire sub-sectors of the economy like agriculture, forestry and fishing, mining and quarrying and gas, electricity and water. This explains why HR professionals argue that improving the quality of HRD is important to the future prosperity of the UK. It also highlights the challenge facing the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and other bodies seeking to raise standards in the profession. The LFS estimates suggest that at most only 1 in 3 people working in HRD in the UK is a CIPD member. At a time when HR is struggling to maintain its reputation in the eyes of CE0s and employees alike, the CIPD in its centenary year still faces a major task in reaching out to the bulk of the UK’s expanding HR workforce.