The latest thinking, news and events from the world of Recruitment

How Recruiters Can Help to Up-skill the UK


The skills gap is happening
There’s probably not a single person in the country that hasn’t heard the growing concerns around the UK’s ever-expanding skills gap. And recruiters are certainly more aware than most. Rather than mere gaps, there are clear, gaping sink holes opening up across a number of country’s key sectors and that is expected to worsen over time.

Research also suggests that it’s not as simple as getting more students to take degrees. Our recent CV-Library survey revealed that recruitment professionals do not believe degrees can plug the skills gap, with 52% admitting they wouldn’t go to university if they were in education today. Furthermore, in the wake of National Apprenticeship Week, it seems that whilst apprenticeships could provide some much needed relief, the funding and government support required just isn’t available.

So what’s the answer? Ultimately, much greater levels of government intervention (and funding)! But that’s not going to happen overnight. In the meantime, however, recruiters have an important role to play…

Be an opportunist
It’s a recruitment nightmare – a flourishing job market that’s facing a major lack of talent. Whilst a defeatist might prepare themselves for the long drought ahead, an opportunist will see it as a chance to lead the way and take control.

There has never been a better time for an opportunist to shine. Whilst any good recruitment professional will take a consultative approach to their clients and/or candidates, a great professional will see the opportunity to step up and become an advisor. Instead of hoping the ideal candidate will come along, it’s time to tackle the skills gap head on; ask questions, listen to answers, establish what’s missing and find a solution.

Just like CV-Library, recruiters need to bring jobs and candidates together. The puzzle isn’t always a perfect fit so you need to find a way to create new joins and fill in the gaps.

Become a training advisor
If you’re finding that time after time, your candidates just aren’t fitting the bill, then you need to take action. First and foremost, it’s important to ascertain whether your competition are managing to fill similar roles – if they are, then you may need to go back to the drawing board and establish where you’re going wrong. If, however, the ‘perfect candidate’ just doesn’t exist, then it’s definitely time to take things into your own hands. Whether you’re an in-house recruiter advising your board of directors, or an agency professional advising your clients, there are a number of suggestions you could make that might provide a solution:

    • Internal training – skill sharing should be at the heart of any business. If it’s not, then now’s the time to look at ways to implement an effective way of sharing key skills. This not only helps to up-skill existing staff, but could also lead to job changes internally. By sharing skills that are already present and moving existing staff to suitable roles, you may find that the new role that needs filling is much more achievable.
    • External training – if the skills sets really don’t exist internally, then external training can provide an alternative. Look into programmes that will enable new and existing employees to acquire new qualifications or recognised industry certificates. This means you can tap into a whole new talent pool that might be more easily accessible. Although it takes a little longer, recruiting a less skilled candidate on a lower salary and training them in-house can be hugely beneficial to an organisation, whilst also increasing staff loyalty and retention.
    • Clearer development – once training programmes are in place, an organisation can offer much clearer development plans to new and existing staff, making it easier to attract the best talent. When we recently asked candidates what was most important to them during their job search, 71.6% prioritised training and development, meaning this is not only a solution to address skills shortages, but also to nurture the best candidates in a positive working environment.

Educate job hunters
Of course, some of the time, candidates simply aren’t positioning themselves correctly. It’s vital that recruiters use their expertise and knowledge to help candidates correctly present their qualifications on a CV.

If, however, you really believe a candidate is struggling to find work because they don’t have the right skill sets, then honesty is the best policy. As a recruiter, you are well-placed to offer career advice and can advise candidates on the skill sets that are most in-demand in your area, sector or organisation. Whilst this might not result in an immediate placement, it will build a strong relationship; help a candidate get to where they want to be and they’ll probably come back to you.

Ultimately, recruiters can’t take on the UK’s skills gap issue alone, and with the possibility of a Brexit, there are still lots of unanswered questions that pose a further threat. However, whilst we can’t be the solution, we can provide an alternative, and offering valuable advice gained from years’ of collective experience is certainly a good place to start.