How can UK business leaders help close the skills gap?
The UK sits at a technological crossroads.
Legacy systems, immoveable employment cultures and emerging tech demands have shifted in the wake of rapid digitisation, cloud adoption and the need for Big Data - the future is very much now, as cross-industry technical innovation continues to revolutionise our working lives.
And yet, there are still change-management hesitancies at executive level that hamper enterprise development, none more so than the ability of business leaders to adopt more meaningful, more targeted and more effective recruitment processes to meet an increase in tech demand.
Over the last decade there has been a rising need for technologically proficient talent in the UK - especially within the cyber security, data analysis and technical architect sectors - and in the last 2 years this need has become a flood of demand, driving a skills shortfall.
But is this shortage caused by a fundamental lack of talent across the board? Or are there more apparent work culture issues at play that are pushing people into the arms of new employers?
The answer is a bit of both:
- A report by CIONET and MIT, summarised in IT Pro, “reveals that 40% of UK digital leaders admit they can't keep key employees as long as they would like as they're being lured away by the offer of more money”.
- But according to the University of Birmingham the root causes go deeper than remuneration - “Bad leadership, poor employee support and stagnant growth opportunities during the pandemic are driving enormous employee churn in the UK workplace. Resignations are highest in mid-career, with an average increase of more than 20% between 2020 and 2021, but turnover is highest among younger employees…resignations are highest in tech… and resignation rates are highest in sectors that have suffered the most under pandemic conditions”.
Stagnant opportunities, the offer of money and poor leadership - a triumvirate of bad retention strategies, and the driving force behind our critical tech skills gap.
Bridging this gap won’t happen overnight, but there are certain enterprise-wide, recruitment, and L&D decisions that can help build a more attractive and crisis-proof culture of tech talent retention and attraction.
- Confronting this generationally defining workforce issue will take a huge collaborative effort from business leaders, educators, L&D teams, HR teams and recruiters, alongside targeted investment from investors to break down barriers to entry for marginalised talent pools. Focusing on diversity is far from just a marketing tool - it centres your ethical credentials as an employer that values a diverse, creative team; it creates a workforce more reflective of your community; and it's been proven to increase revenue, and improve business performance. A full spectrum win, not only for tech skills, but for business growth.
Learn where your talent reside
- In 2018 it was noted that “nearly 8 in 10 technology candidates search for their next opportunity on online job boards, however only 28% of employers are currently adopting this recruitment strategy”. In 2021, those digital channels have proliferated, and savvy recruiters need to be present on a multi-channel basis, using their coverage to drive their employer brand into the recruitment candidate stratosphere.
Explore multi-regional solutions
- BrightBox are not the only company that pioneers Near and Offshore talent resources, but we are one of the best. As we’ve highlighted in other blogs and our testimonial list qualifies, diversifying your outsourcing community will only drive more talent into your hands, and positively affect your service outcomes as demand rises.
Retrain, reskill and match talent with culture
- “Work culture” can be a misunderstood term if you forget what it really is: a composite “structure” of attitudes, workflows and collaborative decision making processes built by your people and supported by management. You cannot import, or buy, culture - it’s holistically built and retained by your team. Value it, encourage it, support it and curate it. It’s the vital tool in your recruitment toolbelt and your staff demand you take note of it.
Listen to your people!
- Listening to your people means learning to compete to retain and attract talent on a non-financial basis. It means reaching into your work culture and processes to delineate what your people want beyond a paycheck.
- If your retention strategies hinge solely on paying more and more money for existing staff, this is unsustainable, and the smaller your firm the harder that is. But if you’re communicative about career pathways and development, diversifying your workforce, in-work training and development and marrying this with ethical leadership (which increasingly is what younger workers demand and what older workers appreciate) you’re listening to your people and building a more supportive working culture of value.
The bottom line
Your people are your future. Acknowledging to your senior leadership and recruitment team that the recruitment market is febrile and difficult to traverse is the first step to building a talent solution fit for the moment.
But improving your employer value proposition doesn’t mean throwing your entire recruitment budget at jobs boards or social media employer brand marketing. It’s about creating a culture of meaningful employment, of value, and of place within your industry.
More than anything it’s about treating your staff and your prospective employees with respect, honouring their want to progress, and setting rigorous and achievable goals to better diversify your workforce through D&I strategies. All this whilst utilising On, Near, and Offshore solutions to bolster your teams when the work increases.