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Where’s all the talent gone?

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick

You place an ad with a recruitment agency, excited to see who will apply and what the crop of candidates will bring. Your business has a great reputation, an attractive benefits package and you offer a generous salary, so why aren’t quality candidates queuing up for an interview?

It’s a familiar story. Plenty of undergraduates show an interest in degrees such as engineering, design, and media, to name but a few. And while the number of students applying for higher education courses are down by 5% according to UCAS, the figure still stands at over half a million. While the numbers appear healthy at first glance, the reality is that businesses in an array of industries are struggling to keep pace with changing demands, and to find the candidates to meet those demands.

What does a talent shortage mean for business?

A lack of talent can sometimes feel like something of a vicious circle for businesses. Training a new staff member or apprentice from scratch incurs costs: the cost of recruiting them in the first place, not to mention the time and money put into expanding their knowledge, skills and experience.

Then there’s the fear that the individual will leave, taking all of that know-how with them, and resulting in further costs as the recruitment and training cycle begins again. And yet if companies don’t have the people to do the job, they’re unable to meet client demands and their bottom line suffers. It’s a catch-22 situation which puts businesses under pressure to retain existing talent and attract new talent from a shrinking pool.

Businesses must take action to remain competitive

When it comes to attracting and retaining talent, investment and training are vital. Whatever sector you work in, technology offers new ways of doing things that simply didn’t exist five years ago: from health and social care to aerospace engineering, technology is playing an increasingly important role in the workplace. If companies don’t move forward by investing in new technologies, they risk alienating candidates that are keen to be at the forefront of developing new processes and innovation.

Alongside investment in best practice for the future, training is another key factor in offering a competitive edge to candidates. If there are no opportunities to grow and develop it’s unlikely that the top-quality candidates will be keen to invest their time in your business. Demonstrating that there are clear progression paths and supporting staff to find better ways of doing things shows that you’re forward thinking, client-centered and interested in being – and employing – the best. A skills shortage puts businesses in a difficult situation, as industry-specific skills only come from working in industry. Of course, businesses will always want to attract those who already possess those skills, and it can be frustrating having to develop staff when you need them to have the skills now. As time moves on and client demands change so too must the skills offered by business: flexibility is key. It’s important for businesses not to fall into the trap of thinking that recruiting new staff will always solve their current problems; the responsibility also lies with the business itself to train and bring on the next wave of leaders and experts.

The most important factor for businesses

With ways of working changing faster than they have in decades and technological advances continuing apace, flexibility is the defining characteristic businesses in all industries need to display. Investing in better ways of doing things and training staff is all well and good, but it’s only relevant until circumstances and client demands change next week, next month, or next year. Companies need to have one eye on the future, one eye on the lay of the land, and adjust and readjust as times move on to be in with a fighting chance of attracting – and keeping – the very best candidates.

Contact us today to see how we can assist you with your recruitment needs, by calling us on 01772 259121 or Register a Vacancy directly.

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