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Are Skills Shortages Holding You Back?

22.01.2015

Are Skills Shortages Holding You Back?

If skills shortages are threatening to damage your business growth, here’s some ideas to help you to attract & retain top talent.

Following a positive year, recruitment is high on the agenda for aspirational businesses. Recruitment firms have almost 30% more vacancies than they did 12 months ago, according to the Association of Professional Staffing Companies.

In a recent survey by Accenture and the CBI, half of British businesses are also looking to expand their workforce in 2015, with over 40% planning pay rises at least in line with the Retail Price Index.

This is of course fantastic news, but it also leaves me with a major concern given the skills shortages that are apparent in so many sectors.

To give you an indication of how serious this issue is becoming, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation believe that we had nine areas of skills shortage last year; we now have 43.

Throw in an upsurge in the level of active recruitment and the battle for top talent has never been fiercer.

In the long-term, greater communication between industry and academia is fundamental to the solution. The Government, universities and colleges must co-operate with businesses to identify key areas where skilled workers are in short supply.

Unless you’re looking for graduates and apprentices however, this is not going to address your needs today; leaving the question: what are you going to do about it?

Think about your brand
How your company is portrayed and how an opportunity is sold to potential employees is crucial. You need to be competitive when recruiting and demonstrate what it is that makes you stand out from your rivals at every turn.

Talk more
It sounds simple, but how often do you praise your top employees? Just taking time to talk to your staff, showing an interest and ensuring they’re happy and feel valued can make a huge difference to the level of commitment they have.

Invest in staff development
If you can’t attract people with the right skills, can you train them internally? By up-skilling your employees you’re not only giving them the tools to grow your business, but you’re developing them as individuals, offering new opportunities and ultimately discouraging them from seeking new challenges elsewhere.

Always be on the lookout
Whenever you come across brilliant people, make a note and try to begin building a relationship. Once you have an opportunity they will be much easier to approach and more likely to choose you over a competitor.

Widen your network
You might know a lot of people but so do your colleagues. Consider setting up an incentivised referral scheme. That way, if you let everybody know what you’re looking for you are much more likely to get genuine recommendations from your staff.

Act fast
Talented people get job offers quickly. If you find the right person be prepared to act fast. If they are truly top of their game it won’t be long before one of your competitors tries to snap them up if you don’t.

Be flexible
If what you’re looking for isn’t out there, you may not have the time to wait for it to come along. Prepare to be flexible and consider someone you have to train or up-skill. If they possess a lot of the softer skills required for the role and have the right attitude, why not take a risk.

Find experts to help
At a time when generalist recruiters are being replaced by more niche consultancies, it will pay to build strong relationships with them as they not only have access to wider talent pools, but can also source the hard to fill vacancies non-specialists and in-house teams simply can’t do.

So are you doing enough to attract and retain top talent, or are you following the same recruitment process you always have?

We all want high-flying employees who create a positive impact and drive our business forward, but when talent is such a scarce commodity it pays to assess how you are going to attract and retain the best people; your future growth could depend upon it.

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