What Are You Doing About Future Skills Shortages?
Seriously, we’ve got a problem mounting here. It’s building, at the moment quite unobtrusively, but it’s going to burst forth on to every employer’s agenda pretty soon, and the effects could be catastrophic. With real intention of being alarming, to make recruiters sit up and wake up, failure to combat the lack of skills in the UK workforce could cost the country £90bn a year. And we’ve just made the problem worse with Brexit.
Whether you’re an employer, recruiter, or even a candidate, you need to wake up, smell the coffee, and prepare if you want to ensure the impact of future skills shortages doesn’t hit as hard as it currently looks as though it will. Fundamentally this is going to require a three pronged battle strategy: sourcing talent; engaging talent; and nurturing talent. This will help to safeguard and indeed bolster your productivity and competitiveness as we head forwards in to trickier territory.
We’re Not Alone in Banging the Drum
The rumblings of concern are now starting to reach headlines. The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) are urging the government to prepare for “seismic” changes in the employment field. The REC, sponsored by Brookson, created the ‘Future of Jobs’ commission to bring together employers, think-tanks, academics, recruiters and various other experts to create a roadmap for the future of the UK jobs market.
Just recently, the commission has published its report. Inside are steps and recommendations to help employers and recruiters get their ducks in order for the future, specifically by 2025. As stated within the report:
“The world of work is rapidly changing, and many of the jobs being undertaken today will simply not exist in seven years. At the same time, many new jobs are emerging – driven by the advancement of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and robotics. Many of these new jobs will require skills very different from today’s requirements.“
The Report goes on to explain how this problem is compounded by the nature of working, and how that is changing. The shift to different types of working (home-based, self-employed etc.) and specifically explains how we need to build ‘bridges’ between where we are now, and where we want to be in the near future.
Source, Engage, Nurture
Obviously some skills areas are more affected than others. Some areas are going to have larger problems than others. Specifically, the area highlighted as potentially facing the biggest challenge is, interestingly, mid-skill level roles. These particular roles are facing challenges as a result of numerous variables. There are three key ones: automation is radically changing the nature of these roles; the baby boomer generation are retiring and the generations behind them have wildly different skill-bases and priorities; and Brexit will swipe away our buffer zone of talent.
Therefore we need to specifically focus on sourcing, engaging, and nurturing the right talent. This will require a different recruitment process to the one we’ve utilised as an industry in recent years. It requires sourcing the right talent and engaging it through careful strategy changes, including more flexible working allowing for better work-life balance, enhanced corporate social responsibility, and a focus on the individual.
Here we then need to focus on our roles as employers and recruiters of nurturing talent. We may not be able to get the skills we need, but can we nurture them? Can we create the skills sets we need to future-proof our business? The only way to successfully do this is to ensure your employees are heavily invested in you because you heavily invest in them. By focusing on their personal development they can be the employees you need to meet the challenges of the future.
The REC “Future of Jobs Report” doesn’t leave you stranded in how you should go about this. However, what is needed is a proactive approach to ensure your recruitment and skills-base is future proof. This means engaging with the talent of tomorrow whilst it’s still in its infancy: in schools, in universities, in training programmes. Employers, and recruiters like ourselves, need to take an active role in shaping and nurturing tomorrow’s talent and helping employers creatively adapt to the challenges of the future.
It’s Not Just Employers and Recruiters Who Need to Act
The Report doesn’t stop there. It also goes on to urge the government to create a new Employment and Skills Advisory Committee which will drive investment in training, as well as shape immigration policy following Brexit and in line with the recruitment needs of the future. Specifically, it also calls upon the government to more accurately measure the progress and success of the world of work in the UK, paying heed to issues such as inclusion pay disparity; social mobility; and productivity. It goes on to address how the current governmental focus on the apprenticeship levy should be broadened to enable a wider range of workers and employees to benefit and begin to plug the emerging skills gap.
The call on the government can’t be missed. We’re globally renowned for our recruitment market, but we need to adapt to stay ahead of the game. The chief executive of the REC, Kevin Green, states in the report: “We rightly celebrate the fact that the UK labour market has remained both resilient and agile. But in order to retain that competitive advantage, business and government need to work collaboratively to implement some radical changes. By 2025 we want good work to be the norm, where businesses champion diversity and inclusion and invest in training and skills development for all staff, no matter what kind of contract they are on. We need to foster a labour market where anyone can both find work and progress within work, irrespective of their background.”
QPLtalent – There for Tomorrow
At QPLtalent we’re seeing the need for change and we’re on the frontline of making it happen. Our recruitment processes and employer support will continue to view and development the talent we all need for tomorrow, not just today.