How To Tackle The Recruitment Challenges and Skills Shortage

Struggling to hire? You’re not alone.

In an eye-opening study by the Open University, 90% of the 400 UK businesses surveyed reported finding it difficult to recruit employees with the required skills in the last 12 months. In today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving business landscape, finding candidates with the right skills and qualifications has become increasingly challenging for employers across various industries. This dilemma is not only frustrating but also costly, as organisations struggle to fill crucial roles and meet their business objectives.

Here, we take a look at the reasons for the current talent drought and what employers can do to address it.

The talent shortage

One of the primary reasons behind the difficulty in finding suitable candidates is the rapid advancement of technology and the changing nature of job roles. According to a recent survey by ManpowerGroup, 69% of employers globally reported difficulty filling positions due to a lack of available talent, with the highest shortages observed in IT, engineering and healthcare sectors.

There are many factors effecting the long-term skills shortages including retirement, illness, and staff salary expectations. In addition, an increase in digitalisation, automation and the net zero imperative are creating demands for new and additional skills in the workplace that are in short supply.

The main impacts of recruitment difficulties and skills shortages were felt by existing staff. 70% of organisations in Northern Ireland say skills shortages have increased the workload on existing staff, with reduced activity or output and decreased staff morale and well-being also being reported.

Tackling the talent pool problem

While the talent shortage presents a significant challenge, there are several strategies that employers can adopt to overcome this obstacle and secure the skilled workforce they need.

1. Invest in training & development

Instead of solely relying on external talent, employers can invest in up-skilling and re-skilling their existing workforce. Providing training programmes, opportunities for promotion and professional development not only enhances employee loyalty and retention but also ensures that employees possess the necessary skills to meet evolving job requirements.

2. Forge partnerships with educational institutions & Grow Your Own Talent

Collaborating with universities and further education colleges can help employers shape educational curricula to align with business needs.   Further education colleges provide short courses focusing on upskilling areas required in today’s businesses as well as longer term programmes to include Higher Level Apprenticeships so you can ‘grow your own’ talent within your business to plug the skills and knowledge gap. Many of these are either fully or part funded. They can even create bespoke programmes for specific niche areas.

Check out what is on offer in your local regional college here.

3. Succession Planning

Managers should identify critical roles within the business and have a plan in place as to where the replacement talent is going to come from.

The 7 step process here is:

  • Identify the critical roles
  • Identify the Knowledge, skills and experience required for each of these roles
  • Determine where your potential replacements are going to come from i.e internal or external to the organisation
  • Consider whether restructuring is required to create a more junior role to allow a phase into the critical role
  • Create a training plan to develop any knowledge or skills that should be developed
  • Ensure there is a plan and sufficient time allocated for the experienced employee to share their knowledge and experience.
  • Ensure to conduct a fair selection process

4. Embrace flexible work arrangements

With advancements in technology, remote work has become increasingly feasible for many roles. Offering flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting and flexible hours, can widen the talent pool by attracting candidates who value work-life balance and may not be geographically located near the office.

5. Tap into alternative talent sources

 Explore non-traditional talent pools, such as freelancers and retirees, to fill skill gaps on a temporary or project basis. Leveraging platforms like freelancing websites, LinkedIn and professional networks can connect employers with qualified individuals seeking flexible employment opportunities.

6. Review and Improve Benefits Package

Many employers have taken a new approach to encourage applicants to apply by focusing their advertisement on the employees benefits rather than the requirements of the role.

You should consider evaluating your benefits package against your comparators and adjust or improve your benefits where possible to not only encourage applicants but also as a retention and reward method to hold on to your top talent once they are recruited.

7. Who’s Assessing Who……..Remember You Are Also Being Assessed!!

According to Forbes, 42% of job seekers decline a job offer as a direct result of a bad interview experience. Therefore, it is vital not to let the right candidate slip through your fingers as the result of a bad first impression. A job interview is a chance for potential employees to find out about your company, just as much as it is for you assess their suitability. First impressions count – for both parties.

The talent shortage poses a significant challenge for employers seeking to fill critical roles and drive business growth. However, by adopting innovative strategies, employers can effectively bridge the skills gap and secure the talent they need to thrive in today’s competitive market.

At Consult HR, we understand the importance of finding the right talent to drive organisational success. By partnering with us, employers can access tailored solutions and expert guidance to navigate the complexities of talent acquisition and retention. For more information, contact Julie by emailing: