A new survey by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has found recruitment problems are widespread in practices across the country.

The BVA Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey spring 2015 revealed the majority of practices that had recently tried to recruit vets had struggled to find suitable candidates.

Two thirds of practices looking to recruit in the past year took more than three months to fill their vacancies for veterinary surgeons. Of these, 10% took more than six months and 7% were forced to withdraw the role because of a lack of suitable candidates.

The problem was particularly severe among small animal practices, where nearly a quarter (23%) saw posts remain empty for more than six months. Almost a fifth (19%) were eventually forced to withdraw roles.

Production animal veterinary roles also proved challenging to fill, with 19% remaining empty for more than three months.

BVA president John Blackwell said: “We’ve been hearing a lot about recruitment issues from veterinary practices across the country and I know from experience how challenging it can be to find the right candidate. These figures confirm that anecdotal evidence, showing many colleagues are struggling to fill posts. 

“This is a complicated issue and we suspect there are a range of different factors that converge to create this situation. We know there are many talented and experienced vets out there and yet recruitment remains a challenge for many.

“We believe issues around out-of-hours requirements, support, work/life balance and flexible working all factor into candidates’ decisions not to apply for, or accept, certain roles. It’s not simply a case of employers offering higher salaries.”

Of those who had advertised a vacancy, nearly a third (32%) had received three or fewer applications per post. They listed difficulties at every stage of the recruitment process.

“We welcome the BVA survey,” said Jo Harley, recruitment brand manager for Vet Times Jobs. “Anything that provides an insight into the recruitment issues facing the industry today is of value.

“These findings coincide with our own survey, which closes this week. We commissioned this independent survey on behalf of Vet Times Jobs. The brief was to dig even deeper to get to the heart of issues from both the point of view of the recruiter and the job seeker. We strongly believe that only by understanding the marketplace as a whole can we provide meaningful information that will be of real benefit to everyone working within the profession.

“The findings are being collated as we speak and we will be looking to share them with the profession next month.”

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