Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

How Reskilling Can Empower Recruiters to Overcome Talent Shortages

Peter Linas, Bullhorn’s Executive Vice President of Corporate Development and International

In the three months leading up to December 2019, the UK jobs market grew to nearly 33 million people in work (a new record, according to the latest ONS figures). Meanwhile, the number of job vacancies increased by 7000 to 810,000. Employers are now making more permanent hires after confidence in the economy rose following the December election and certainty around Brexit. While this is welcome news, recruiters still face significant talent shortages. According to Bullhorn’s Global Recruitment Insights and Data (GRID), nearly three quarters (74 percent) of UK recruiters reported that the skills shortage remains their top hiring challenge. So, what can recruiters do to tackle the skills shortage?

For recruiters to meet hiring demand, they need to lead on reskilling. While previous generations saw most candidates go their entire careers using just the skills they learned in school, the rapidly changing, technologically augmented modern economy requires many candidates to reskill to keep up. Fortunately, recruiters have exactly the insights that businesses need to get a grip on evolving job roles and source the perfect talent.

Sourcing Quality Candidates

According to our GRID survey, 32 percent of recruiting professionals said that they found sourcing candidates to be the most challenging part of the recruiting lifecycle. The Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) which evaluates countries on their ability to attract, develop, and retain talent, ranked the UK ninth out of 114 countries.  This number doesn’t suggest that the UK is lagging behind, but with other European countries such as Switzerland, Denmark, and the Netherlands ranking far higher, UK businesses may struggle to attract and retain talent if they do not improve. Additionally, any restriction of free movement caused by Brexit has the potential to further widen the skills gap. Interestingly, despite recruiters listing sourcing as the most challenging part of the recruitment lifecycle, GRID found that only 39 percent currently use automation to boost any part of their sourcing efforts.

Finding the Reskilling Opportunity

The World Economic Forum predicts that more than half of all employees will require “significant reskilling” by 2022. This mismatch in skills is corroborated by GRID data which found that nearly half (46 percent) of recruiters think skills shortages are worse now than five years ago. However, recruiters aren’t helpless in this skills drought – in fact, it is a golden opportunity to provide an unprecedented level of value. Recruitment agencies can go beyond placing talent; they can create talent by reskilling candidate pools.

Identifying Emerging Skills

Any kind of skills shortage presents opportunities for recruiters: they are the best positioned to spot trends in emerging skills and competencies that are in high demand. Current job requirements such as a degree or a specific competency may be causing the company to turn away otherwise qualified talent. Instead, map the skills keywords that characterise available candidates from your ATS to jobs for which they may be relevant, if given proper training. Some skills are “must-haves”, but many others can be easily acquired through workplace learning.

JPMorgan Chase has adopted this strategy with its Tech Connect programme, which trains college graduates in the skills that the company anticipates needing in the near future – effectively creating an exclusive talent pool. In short, looking exclusively for candidates who already have the specific skills a business needs can be short-sighted – recruiters must also search for candidates with raw talent that, with a little reskilling, can develop those skills. 

Investing in Tech

Technology makes developing new skills cheaper and more efficient than ever and leveraging tech effectively will be essential to narrowing the skills gap. Many in the industry already realise this, and in 2019, 59 percent of talent developers reported an increase in budget for online learning compared to the previous three years. Businesses need to ensure that employees have access to the right platforms, tools and programmes to reskill themselves to keep up with the breakneck speed of technological innovation and shifting skills requirements.

Overall, reskilling gives recruitment agencies the power to transform the careers – and potentially lives – of candidates, all while filling positions and overcoming the skills shortage. Investments in online courses, training academies, and apprenticeship programmes will all pay dividends, particularly when combined with anticipation of the skills that will be in demand over the next few years. As their guide and partner, recruiters have the power to show them that they have the capacity for change, and clients should trust in their pure aptitude to take on new challenges.