Skills shortage: Why HR is not to blame

Written by
Nicola McQueen

11 Mar 2016

11 Mar 2016 • by Nicola McQueen

Are you confident about your talent?

Yes, the HR department does have overall responsibility for bringing talent into an organisation but the management of that talent, hiring methods and creating an authentic employer brand must be shared much more effectively across a business.

Our recent Workforce Horizons research study found that 93% of HR professionals feel they are facing a shortage of talent for advanced level positions, and just 12% are extremely confident that they have sufficiently highly skilled staff available to meet their business needs.

This struggle with skills is here to stay, the question is how can UK businesses change their strategies to solve this prominent issue?

Early career recruitment

Organisations have long been developing links with universities and colleges to design and sponsor courses that better arm people with the right skills and long may this continue. But it’s no longer just about having connections with these further education institutions, we are seeing more and more high profile companies targeting primary schools to get children interested in their particular sector. By focusing on individuals of a much younger age, you have the ability to change perceptions from the very beginning meaning that the overall impact is considerable and long lasting.


Changing perceptions

Businesses should challenge their hiring strategies, for example hiring more junior, less experienced staff as interns or apprentices. These keen, skilled workers will bring a new perspective and new skills to the working environment. As part of this, companies need to ensure they select hiring managers who are forward thinking in terms of nurturing new talent. The combination of young talent and managers who are dedicated to nurturing this talent in the right way is a recipe for success.


The 3 Rs: Retention, retention and more retention

Although having strong supply-channel initiatives is important, they can only do so much, strategies to promote retention are just as important in the fight against skills shortages.

The rise of the shrewd and self-aware employee is a huge factor. It’s not just that the skills are hard to find, but individuals with the necessary skills are even harder to attract. They are fully aware of the power they hold in both the recruitment process and their ongoing salary and benefit negotiations. Companies must therefore ensure they have a strong employer brand that provides a true representation of what they are like to work for and reflects the benefits they offer to help stand out from the crowd. This helps companies to attract the right sort of people from the beginning, and also increases the likelihood of them staying long-term.

Understanding the competition and ever-changing candidate market is also key. Businesses that stand out when it comes to recruitment and retention strategies are those that take the time to know what is happening in the market and adjust their strategy accordingly on an ongoing basis. Understanding your company’s particular talent needs and culture is necessary but being aware of competitors and how the market is changing will give the organisation an extra tool for their box.

The issue of the skills shortage is going to be around for a while and it’s not a problem that HR can solve on its own. Wider business strategies that support recruitment and retention need to be implemented. Companies that take steps towards a more cohesive approach to the problem will reap the benefits in terms of both talent attraction and retention.