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The Skills Opportunity

The skills gap crisis should be top of mind for every business looking to the future. 

The longer business-critical positions remain unfilled, the more innovation and growth is inhibited. A recent report by the UK's Local Government Association reinforces this, estimating that the current skills shortage will cost the UK £90 billion a year - by 2024 - unless urgent action is taken.

40% of Europeans lack the digital skills required to survive in today's market...

But this isn’t just a UK issue; it's affecting global businesses. From the 40% of Europeans lacking the digital skills required to survive in today's market to the tripling of talent shortages in the US over the last 10 years – rising from 14% in 2010 to 69% in 2021 – employers everywhere are struggling to fill positions.

There are many reasons for this crisis, including an under-investment in skills development and employees resigning from roles faster than ever before. Yet forward-thinking companies such as Google have embraced a new recruitment approach to combat this crisis. Their method is about shifting the  focus away from what’s on the candidate’s CV to instead considering how their skillset can be nurtured at the company – seeing not what they are, but what they have the potential to be.


The traditional method of recruitment

Recruitment has long seen candidates solely as a way to fill vacancies. Do they meet the required years of experience? Do they show  suitable career  progression to move and adjust comfortably to a new  role? This approach leans resources toward hiring external candidates over promoting internal talent, often risking bypassing existing staff who simply don’t tick every box of the job description, yet could thrive in the role with the proper training and encouragement. 

With issues like the skills gap crisis, power has shifted to employees. This is backed up by our recent Talent Index where of the 5,000 employed adults surveyed in the U.S. and UK, almost three quarters (72%) are confident in their ability to find a new job. Talent no longer sees ‘one employer, one career’; individuals are instead  comfortable leaving a company if there is  no personal development or career progression path offered. Today’s talent teams, then, need to understand what skills they need to build their workforce of the future alongside which skills they already have and determine a strategy that closes the gap and helps candidates and employees get to where they want to go in the longer term.


Taking a skills-first approach in your business

You can also embrace talent mobility through work-based learning and certification. By giving your employees the time and resources to upskill (strengthening existing skills to close skill gaps) and cross-skill (developing new skills that can benefit different business areas) you can realise the full value and flexibility of your workforce, and lessen your reliance on external hiring to plug skill gaps. 

Allowing your employees to move between teams as needed, can give even the largest businesses the talent flex of a startup. It also aids retention by giving your existing talent the opportunity to move into different departments that suit their interests and potential – and your business goals. Employing a talent marketplace initiative into your talent strategy, enables people to follow their interests and see how their skillset will be advantageous to the role, bringing a high level of internal mobility in the process.

It also allows you to take a more holistic approach to managing the whole talent lifecycle. Rather than slotting candidates into permanent roles, you can start to think about how to offer your top performers varied work across your business, and realise that talented workers will be with your company for a time and then can perhaps come back for future roles or contracted projects.

For this process to work however you will need to have a complete overview of the entire  talent lifecycle, embracing a platform that connects data typically siloed between recruitment and talent teams. By prioritising a talent-first approach – and a skills-first approach to talent – you’ll not only gain a competitive edge in the talent crisis; but you will also benefit from  creating a more engaging and fulfilling experience for  your existing talent and new hires.

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The last two years have presented a whole host of talent related challenges for HR leaders, but some big opportunities have also been uncovered  for those willing to embrace change. By taking the time to understand your business through a talent lens you can then create a future proofed  talent strategy that moves beyond tactics  and instead focuses on understanding what each individual wants; working out how to help them get there and empowering  you to turn attrition into attraction and retention. To learn more about talent lifecycle management and how it can help your business become ‘talent-first’ , download our Talent Lifecycle Management Whitepaper