By Neil Clough, Managing Director, Prime

When it comes to recruitment, businesses have a variety of ways of cherry-picking the best talent. Interviews, aptitude tests and assessment days are all common practice to find your perfect fit, but very few put the same level of effort into developing their new recruits once they have been selected. As a result, a number of sectors have complained about the well publicised ‘skills gap’, particularly relating to younger candidates.

In October 2014, the British Chambers of Commerce surveyed 3,000 firms on this issue, producing startling results. The report found that nine out of ten businesses thought schools leavers were not ready for employment, with more than half saying the same about graduates.

In general, SMEs see hiring younger people as a risky move, with three quarters blaming the skills gap on a lack of work experience. Interestingly, just half of the businesses surveyed said that they offer work placements to younger candidates, demonstrating that the onus remains firmly on companies to reduce this problem.

However, there is a solution, as well as employing the recruitment protocols that have served businesses so well over the years, firms that really want to retain the best talent need to offer on the job training to their staff. Expecting young recruits to understand the world of work straight away is unrealistic, and help must be offered to school leavers and graduates to lessen the skills gap.

Training is all too often overlooked when it comes to recruitment, as we are so busy chasing the next deal. At Prime, we see things differently and strongly believe that training is the key to consistently delivering sales targets. As a result, we offer free sales training days to attract our candidates, as well as seven days’ on the job training in their first year of work. In short, we cherry-pick the best, then make them even better.

Only by adopting methods such as these will businesses be able to eradicate the problems caused by the skills gap. Stringent recruitment policies alone are not the answer, and companies must look to change the way they develop their staff to maximise potential and realise that you can teach a new dog new tricks.