Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Redesign, redeploy, reskill: three strategies for tackling the skills shortage

Andy Ingham, Senior Vice President, EMEA and APAC, Bullhorn

Job vacancies have hit a record high. In the UK, the latest figures show that there are now 1,295,000 unfilled roles, an increase of 33,700 from the previous quarter. How businesses choose to address this shortage will be a major factor in their ability to weather today’s harsh economic conditions.  

Deloitte’s 2022 CEO Priority Survey found that 57% of senior leaders listed attracting and recruiting talent as a top priority. On its surface, this seems to make sense: in a “post-pandemic” world following the so-called “Great Resignation” where job vacancies are at an all-time high, hiring seems like an obvious choice – but it’s not the only option.

The demand for new talent is far higher than the supply, so it doesn’t always seem possible to employ somebody new. Instead, many organisations already have access to the talent they need – if they know where to look. One option is to work with specialist recruitment partners.

When it comes to improving talent acquisition, there are three Rs that businesses and their recruitment partners need to take a closer look at: redesigning, redeploying and reskilling.


Role redesign is about better balancing tasks between job roles to increase efficiency and the likelihood that each team member can complete their workload. All too often, businesses fall victim to “competency creep” and gradually expand a person’s job description until it encompasses a broad range of complex tasks. This makes replacing that person – whether with someone from inside the organisation or a new hire – extremely challenging.

This reimagining should also extend to the factors that affect a person’s job satisfaction, including work-life balance, pay, benefits, and even company culture. If too much pressure is concentrated on a single role, the person filling it is at risk of burnout. To understand the reality on the ground, decision makers need to engage with employees and learn what matters to them.

Redesign also has benefits when it comes to hiring. It enables the business to break free of overly prescriptive job descriptions and requirements, making roles more flexible and increasing the pool of potential applicants. Businesses can further broaden this pool by considering candidates transferrable skills and aptitudes which could be developed through training.

Underpinning all of this the need to leverage the feedback and expertise of recruiters (either in-house or agency) to develop and successfully promote a role that is more in tune with the specific needs and desires of today’s employees.


Another option is to redeploy existing employees to new positions within the organisation. This will become increasingly important as automation continues to change the landscape of work, leaving teams in various parts of the business over-resourced.

Rather than removing employees from the organisation, they can be redeployed into new, more strategic roles that are less likely to be automated. This is especially effective if they've already developed complementary skills that would suit alternative roles within the organisation.

As businesses contend with a competitive jobs market, it also makes sense to consider redeploying contract or temporary workers as their contracts expire. Specialist recruiters typically have the strongest insight into, and relationships with, these workers and can provide access to a ready stream of skilled people that are not technically ‘visible’ on the jobs market.


As the core skills required for a role change – whether new software is adopted, the team is restructured, or the business pivots to match the market – employees need to change with them. Fortunately, training to develop new skills is a time-tested way of ensuring that a business has the in-house expertise it needs to take on everyday challenges.

In the fast-moving modern world, the need for reskilling is greater than ever – the World Economic Forum estimates that 50% of all employees will require reskilling within the next five years, and 40% of them need training within the next six months.

There are major benefits to reskilling employees. For one, a business can get started immediately, and tailor the exact course of the learning and development program to suit its needs. This contrasts with hiring from the market, where there could be a significant wait and there’s no guarantee that a candidate will have the precise skill set required.

Another benefit is increased employee satisfaction, as people generally appreciate the opportunity to add valuable new skills to their CV at no additional cost. A recent study by SumTotal supports this, finding that 60% of CEOs agree that a strong upskilling program improves their company’s culture.

Further, in a tightening economy, training spend often goes further than adding an employee, especially if they are highly skilled. Recruitment businesses have led the charge in the world of reskilling and upskilling, with companies like Kelly and Adecco investing millions into programs and business designed to equip and educate workers with the skills they need to further their careers.

However, there are still circumstances where hiring from the outside will be necessary, especially in specialised industries and roles which require skills that take years to develop.

Ready for new ways to boost talent acquisition?

Today, as budgets are tight and the job market is tough, focusing on redesigning, redeploying and reskilling will provide businesses with new ways to build their talent pipelines.

Partnering with recruitment specialists with proven expertise in these methods will only help businesses to accelerate their progress in these critical areas.