The talent gap is broadening. As the world continues to emerge from a long recession, KPMG’s latest survey suggests there is now a global War For Talent requiring companies to rethink their talent acquisition strategies.
Key points of the survey indicate two principal factors influencing a global skills shortage:-
- Generational influences : Younger professionals are less inclined to pursue a traditional career path, regarding themselves as ‘free agents’.
- A scarcity of talent with the skills required for new emerging roles.
A further report published in March also suggested that a sharp rise in skills shortages could also hamper the UK’s economic recovery. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) highlighted that the number of ‘skills shortage vacancies’ are increasing at twice the rates of other vacancies.
The importance of an effective talent acquisition strategy is not in doubt. Acknowledging the existence of the talent gap and taking appropriate steps to close it are two completely different issues. When reviewing your company’s hiring processes, the following may help:-
Social media: The ‘rules’ of recruitment continue to evolve. For employers to tap into the talent of the future, a comprehensive online recruitment strategy is a must. Engage millennials via your social media networks to accumulate a talent pool. It’s not an overnight fix but an essential long term component of your talent acquisition strategy.
Hire for attitude, train for skill: Too many hiring managers return to their standard job descriptions each time a new vacancy arises, resulting in inflexible and uninspiring job adverts with narrow screening parameters. Too much emphasis on skills and experience will mean your company loses out on potential talent. Focus on attitude too, especially in areas where skills are scarce. What are the traits of your top performers? Attitude and aptitude are key indicators of future talent; skills are transferable and can be trained. Rejuvenate your job description as well as your applicant criteria.
Embrace technology wholeheartedly: Some hiring managers have clung tightly to traditional recruiting methods such as job boards with the emphasis on quantity of applicants rather than quality. Embrace technology with an effective recruitment management system which enhances your hiring process by enabling you to connect with the talent your organisation needs. At the very least, applicant tracking software will help you to identify your best candidate sources and make it easier to share information between departments.
Create a clear career path: KPMG highlighted the necessity for a clearly defined career path as one of its top three ways to address talent shortages. A visible career development path will enable you to attract, engage and retain the talent your organisation needs.
The learning gap: Employers must continue to invest in learning initiatives. The UKCES report highlighted the vital role played in bridging the skills gap by the growing number of University Technical Colleges (UTCs). These innovative technical colleges aim to identify and provide relevant skills within each region. They are currently supported by around 500 UK companies who play an essential role in influencing the learning and teaching provided.
Flexibility in the workplace: With effect from 30th June 2014, all UK employees have a legal right to request flexible working. The long-term effect of this is yet to be seen but it has long been regarded as fundamental to attracting talent. Flexible working, where feasible, should be an integral part of your overall hiring process.
It’s a team effort: The second of KPMG’s top three ways to address talent shortages was its recommendation to empower all managers as part of your talent acquisition strategy. Don’t leave the burden of responsibility solely with HR. By sharing information, involving relevant departments in the recruitment cycle and supporting the entire process with effective recruiting software you will gradually begin to gain an understanding of your organisation’s talent gap.
To satisfy any lingering curiosity, KPMG’s third and final suggestion for dealing with talent shortages was the adoption of a holistic approach to talent management, which we will explore in a future article.
Has your organisation implemented any of the suggestions mentioned above? Have they worked for you or have you discovered more effective ways of bridging the talent gap?