Three ways to beat skills shortages

More job vacancies than people looking for work has been the recent headline news, as companies seek more talent than the UK workforce is willing to provide.

This combines with consistent reports of skills shortages among hiring employers – currently three quarters of employers report this issue according to the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.

This phenomenon is being felt across a diverse range of industries. The Manpower survey reports, the most difficulties in Education, Health, Social Work, Government, Information Technology, Telecoms, Communications and Media, Banking, Finance, Insurance and Real Estate.

At a functional level, skills shortages are most acute in the following professional areas:

The survey also identified the soft skills that employers are looking for:

  • Reliability and self-discipline
  • Resilience and adaptability
  • Reasoning and problem-solving
  • Creativity and originality
  • Critical thinking and analysis

The combined impact is to make candidates with these skillsets highly sought after by hiring employers with a corresponding impact on salary levels and employment arrangements, as the best candidates select from multiple job opportunities.

If your organisation is struggling to find people with the right skills what can be done about it?

1.       Upskill your existing talent

While a large proportion of British organisations typically look to hire fully formed talent, smart organisations are turning their attention to building talent pipelines that allow them to fulfil their future skills requirements.

Upskilling existing talent to fulfil greater responsibilities and hiring into junior roles offers a relatively quick and inexpensive way to overcome skills shortages.

Initiatives such as Amazon’s Career Choice programme support both job retention and career development. In Amazon’s case, employees with 12-months service are sponsored to acquire professional qualifications in shortage occupations such as Software Development, by working closely with education partners such as Pitman Training.

Apprenticeship programmes, funded in the UK by a payroll levy on larger employers, offer an alternative approach.  Participating organisations are required to release employees for training activity for 20% of their working week and training programmes are delivered over a regulated period, which can make delivery inflexible.

2.       Rethink recruitment

In a candidate-driven market, employers need to move quickly to secure the best available talent and be fully aware of how their employer brand influences candidate behaviour.

Keyword driven hiring algorithms that have underpinned recruitment technologies and hiring efficiencies in recent years are finding themselves coming up short in a market that requires a more lateral interpretation of candidates’ skills and potential.

Talent creation programmes which combine recruitment with structured training programmes, such as that offered by Melius, offer a route for organisations to select candidates demonstrating core strengths and on-going potential.

This approach enables organisations to confidently hire candidates with 90% of the required skillset, safe in the knowledge that the candidate and their talent partner, are committed to filling the skills gap within a defined period.

Increasing diversity in recruitment practices and enticing older workers to stay engaged with the world of work will also help attract talent to your organisation.

3.       Rethink working practices

A legacy of the pandemic is proving to be the continued preference from a large proportion of the population for increased flexibility in working practices, shift patterns and workplace location.

Options such as flexible working hours and home working are likely to appeal to candidates with caring and family commitments that make it easier for them to juggle both responsibilities.

Organisations with particularly rigid approaches are likely to find their candidates pools smaller than those for similar roles where such flexibility can be accommodated.

For activities where remote working is not a possibility, changes to job design to regroup which activities are undertaken by each role can help alleviate skills stress.

Automation or digitisation by increasing the digital skills capabilities of your workforce can play an effective role in reducing the time and effort taken to complete routine tasks, with a corresponding benefit in productivity, job satisfaction and job retention.

Where next?

With creativity and planning, there are effective ways for your organisation to overcome skills shortages and prevent them hindering your business performance.

For an introductory conversation to explore how our teams can support your business with this challenge, please contact Chris Hodson or David Morley.