Combating the shortage of skills

Combating the shortage of skills - Talent shortage

Despite the impact of a year-long battle with coronavirus and the dramatic impact on employment that this has brought, there is still a shortage of many key skills in the UK. 

According to the 2021 UK Skills Shortage & Demand By Region conducted by, there are over 32 million people in the UK currently employed, but many industries face problems securing the right staff. The pandemic has changed the employment landscape, with companies strengthening their customer service and support roles, according to LinkedIn. Their findings are that these are the top 10 global in-demand skills, based on their job postings, many of which are technology-related.

  • Communication
  • Business Management
  • Problem Solving
  • Data Science
  • Data Storage Technologies
  • Technical Support
  • Leadership 
  • Project Management
  • Digital Literacy
  • Employee Learning & Develop

Digital skills are a key concern

A shortage of digital talent is an issue that has been highlighted for a while. Five years ago, the government was reporting that that 72% of large organisations and half of SMEs were suffering due to being unable to access employees with the digital skills needed.

In 2021 the situation has arguably become worse. Our world becomes ever more reliant on technology and the digital skills that go alongside that, yet think tank WorldSkills UK reports that the number of children taking IT related GCSEs has dropped dramatically in the last five years by 40%.  

70% of young people expected their employers to invest in their digital skills. But less than half of employers said they offer on-the-job training.

This all paints a bit of a bleak picture for organisations reliant on top digital talent to succeed. 

How should recruiters respond?

Whilst this key issue is something that needs to be tackled at government level, that won’t happen overnight. So recruiters need to find a way to find the people with the skills they need. There are two routes available; train up your existing employees or become more attractive to the limited job candidates.

Here are some steps you can take to address the latter issue.

Check your branding: Research conducted by Betterteam says that companies with a positive employer brand get double the applications of other companies who are not as well-positioned. Other studies suggest that a positive employer brand can cut your cost per hire by 50%. So, it’s time to get focused on your employer brand, making sure it is reflecting your attributes as an employer effectively.

Keep communicating: Make sure that you are open to receiving job enquiries even when you are not actively recruiting. Do you have a page on your website where people can send in their CVs? An active communication programme with people you have interviewed in the past? What about a referral programme for your existing staff to recommend people they know? In these volatile times, no job is forever, and you never know when the ideal candidate will become available.

Make the candidate love you: Ensure your recruitment process leaves a great impression on job candidates. A smooth and speedy interview process with superb communications is necessary. If you find someone good, don’t delay in making them a great offer. This is where a specialist IT recruitment agency can really help, ensuring things can move along quickly without losing momentum.

Understand the value of the candidate and reward accordingly: Good people don’t come cheap. Research the market value for top talent and be prepared to offer a salary at the top end. Studies show that organisations with a strong understanding of market value for talent are more successful with recruitment and retention.

Look for transferable skills: Transferable skills are valuable because they can be used in numerous functions and roles. These are often the so-called ‘soft’ skills, those interpersonal skills that improve our ability to achieve our goals, such as problem-solving, collaboration, or persuasion. Transferable skills also include broad areas of expertise that can apply across different functions and industries, such as numeracy or data analysis.

Review your job description: We’ve mentioned hiring for transferable skills. Additionally, innovative markets demand newly emerging skills. Finding the best people might mean you have to keep the ‘must haves’ on the JD, such as number of years’ experience or specific industry knowledge, to an absolute minimum.

The world is your oyster: Thanks to the technology we have at our fingertips, you can employ the very best candidate wherever they happen to live. One thing that COVID has taught us is that many jobs can be done in a flexible way, given access to the right technology and the right company culture. There is no better time to embrace a flexible approach, focusing on what your employees achieve rather than where they are sitting or what times they work. 50% of workers think the ability to work flexibly is one good thing to come out of the pandemic.  

As far as the other option for resolving a talent shortage, you need to ensure your best people stay and that you train them in the skills you need.

Today’s workers aren’t just looking at what they get out of their job today, but at how their employer is helping to set them up for future success. Ongoing development, in the form of training, mentoring and job shadowing, or the provision of the latest tools, are all positive moves that not only demonstrate your commitment to your employee’s development but help to build their loyalty to you. 

This is particularly important in digital industries where skill sets need to be regularly updated, or they become obsolete. Ask your team what they would value – people don’t want to leave companies that feel they have their best interests at heart.

Working with a trusted recruitment partner is more important than ever when looking for jobs demanding skills in short supply. With one of the largest and most accurate databases in the UK, we are able to fill many of our clients’ needs directly and efficiently. Even the most challenging of candidates can be found, thanks to our prestigious connections across all leading job sites, social media and networking tools. Why not give us a call for a chat about how we can help?

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