Tools (2)

The UK is among the handful of shining lights in the global economy this year and with the International Monetary Fund predicting global growth of 3.6% in 2016, British businesses know there are even better times ahead. However the global skills shortage means that many will struggle to capitalise on this growth.

Digital development, demographic and workplace culture shifts are redrawing the skills map for global businesses. The supply of talent is shifting at a time when demand is increasing, which creates profound challenges for the future of business and their workforces. Currently, around 40% of companies across the EU struggle to find employees with the right skills and 63% of CEOs say availability of skills is a serious concern (PWC research).

Ongoing shortages across engineers, nurses, doctors, IT professionals, construction workers and accountants. They’re driving up pay inflation. According to The Report On Jobs, which was compiled by Markit, the Recruitment, Employment Confederation and accountancy firm KPMG this current pause in recruitment could hamper the UK economy’s ability to grow, and drag on the nation’s productivity. So what can businesses do to overcome the skills shortage?

  1. Make your organisation a more appealing place to work
Increase salaries

Develop a compelling benefits programme

Build and promote a strong company culture

  1. Look for talent in new places
Another question you should ask yourself is: Am I just looking in the wrong places?

Recruitment methods can get stale, which is why it’s essential to dust yours off every now and then, and look for new avenues to explore for talent. This may mean switching recruitment agencies, attending job fairs, or using social media in ways you’ve not done before; candidates don’t always come directly to the vacancies page on your website, and they don’t all use the same recruitment agents, so there are plenty of skilled, talented workers out there who you’ve not come across yet. You may even discover perfect matches who are not actively looking for a new job, but if you can reach out to them with a fantastic job offer, they may be enticeable.

  1. Consider an apprenticeship programme
Trade industries, such as construction and plumbing, have felt the real brunt of the UK’s skills shortage, with a reported 35% of trades companies struggling to find qualified workers. The UK is currently undergoing a major residential and commercial development drive as the population grows, but without suitably skilled engineers available, many firms have to turn down work.

To challenge the shortfall, trades companies have demonstrated their resourcefulness by initiating a high percentage of apprenticeships: on-the-job training, backed up by nationally recognised qualifications, taught at a college.

Any industry can run apprenticeships, from events to business management. Whilst in training, businesses have additional hands-on-deck at a lower cost than the average employee, and once qualified, you’ve got a fully trained professional who is already completely accustomed to your company’s way of working.

If your business is suffering a skills shortage, our consultants are here to help. We can assess the needs of your company and source reputable talent at all levels to help your business grow.

  1. Invest in upskilling new and existing employees
The case for MOOCs in education can also be made for the workplace too. MOOCs are revolutionising workplace training by upskilling employees, lowering the cost of corporate training and building a talent pool of potential hires with core competencies needed by employers, ensuring the workforce remains relevant and competitive. In fact, 70% of corporate training and HR professionals see opportunities to integrate MOOCs into their companies’ learning programmes and 44% of organisations are interested in creating internal courses and curating external ones.

Currently, around 40% of companies across the EU struggle to find employees with the right skills and MOOCs could be one of the solutions to address the EU’s high level of unemployment and skills shortages. Several large companies like the Bank of America are teaming up with leading European universities to offer MOOCs that align with the core competencies needed for specific roles, turning MOOCs into an effective recruitment tool that enables companies to build a potential talent pool and identify job candidates with the right skills.

In addition, MOOCs substantially reduce the cost of corporate training. For example, in the UK the annual employer expenditure on training was approximately £2,550 per person trained. When you consider that it costs approximately 100 euros to train an employee with MOOCs, the cost benefits are clear.

Security software company McAfee was struggling with its new-hire orientation, which involved over 80 hours of training. New hires were struggling with the speed of the training, finding it either too fast or too slow, and sales associates were spending valuable time providing training when they could have been closing sales. In response, McAfee turned to MOOCs to save time and money and to enable employees to follow the training at their own pace whilst freeing up their sales staff. The result has been a significant increase in sales and a big reduction in training costs.

MOOCs are not a fleeting trend. The demand for MOOCs is only expected to rise as Millennials – who will make up half of the global workforce by 2020 – place greater importance on learning and development opportunities that make the most of new collaborative technologies.

  1. Implement a grad scheme
Graduates are cheap to hire, quick to learn and well practiced in transferable skills, such as written and oral communication, organisation, and data analysis. However, graduate schemes are a really competitive field right now because huge numbers of businesses recognise that securing top-tier university graduates is one of the most logical recruitment methods during a skills shortage.

Many businesses will start taking applications from graduates a year before they finish their degree or masters course in order to secure the highest level of talent before they’re off the job market. It’s a yearlong task for your HR team, but if you’ve got the resources to advertise and run a graduate scheme (or if you can enlist the assistance of a recruitment agency), doing so can really pay off.

You can read more about producing an effective graduate scheme here.

By Rob Clark, Managing Director of Epson UK and Senior Vice President for Epson Europe