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Mind The Gap: How Do We Deal With The UK Skills Shortage?

Posted by Robert Warburton on in Human Resources

It appears that the issue of a skills shortage in the UK workforce is not going away. Instead it is becoming an increasing concern for business owners and economists, who see a lack of skilled workers as one of the greatest threats to the country’s economic growth.

And not just that, a lack of skills in a workforce can lead to other employees picking up the slack, which creates all sorts of issues around motivation and morale.

Identifying the problem is easy, finding a solution is far more challenging.

So, what can we do about it?

A report by the UK Commision for Employment in Skills in December 2014 made five recommendations for action, putting the onus on employers to lead on skills development, with government support. The report highlighted the need for more quality ‘earning and learning’ routes, like apprenticeships, better management, better job design and increased employee engagement.

“Employers need online recruitment processes to be straightforward, streamlined and suitable for their business needs.”

But when it comes to recruitment it is important to understand what’s working, and what isn’t. Employers need online recruitment processes to be straightforward, streamlined and suitable for their business needs. That means not just aligning with business goals, but also demonstrating an impact on them.

At a time when hiring the right people is more important than ever, one size will not simply fit all.

It is crucial to have a plan from the start of any recruitment campaign, from how, where and when to search for candidates, to screening requirements, interview and offer processes. Without a clearly defined strategy, time-consuming and costly mistakes can be made. And, for small and medium sized businesses, the risk and reward of necessary growth vs. the challenges of recruitment can feel like an uphill struggle. For ambitious SMEs, finding the right people must sit at the top of the priority list and and, against a backdrop of a competitive and unskilled market, this can be a genuine worry for business owners.

A map being read

The good news? The High Growth Small Business Report (2014) highlighted the value of Britain’s fastest growing smaller businesses, as critical to economic prosperity. Representing just 1% of UK businesses and only 3.4% of the total UK economy, these companies generated 36% of UK economic growth last year and created two in three new jobs (68%) between 2012 and 2013, totaling over 250,000 jobs across the UK.

So, if the power really is in your hands, how do we support the growth of SMEs?

Speaking to employers about the barriers to recruitment led to the development of the Campaign Builder: a simple way for employers to create their campaign and get a transparent upfront quote. Simply pick your requirements from the campaign planner list and we do the rest, removing the hassle and confusion around the process, the very things that can baffle new employers and slow down the search for the right candidate.

A combination of effective recruitment strategies, internal training and investment in ‘earning and learning’ will help to kickstart the skills shortage in the UK. But as employers and agencies, we all need to be on board. Identifying the right candidates against clearly defined job descriptions and supporting the workforce to increase productivity will be crucial. And ensuring that process is as simple and transparent as possible will make all the difference. It is certainly time for employers and agencies to work together to help plug the skills gap and take some joint responsibility for the country’s economic growth.

After all, there is no more important asset for any business, than its people.

 

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Robert Warburton

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