U.K. study examines how organizations are coming to terms with skill shortages
By Claudine Kapel
Even if your organization isn’t currently grappling with skill shortages, there’s helpful wisdom that can be gained from the experiences of those less fortunate.
Employers in the United Kingdom continue to face significant talent challenges, and their struggles and responses are chronicled in the latest annual study on resourcing and talent planning by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). The study is based on responses from 462 organizations in the U.K.
According to CIPD, 60 per cent of employers that had vacancies in 2012 experienced recruitment difficulties. “Year on year we observe a fiercer war for talent, seeing the number of organizations reporting competition for well-qualified employees triple since 2009.”
The biggest recruiting challenge cited by respondents was the inability to find necessary “specialist or technical skills” with organizations also reporting further difficulties in filling senior management roles. Job candidates seeking more pay than what the organization could offer was cited as another key challenge. And the inability to find talent with relevant sector or industry experience was a particular issue for manufacturing and production organizations.
Recruiting challenges were more pronounced in 2012 in part because fewer people were looking to leave their current employers, reports CIPD. “Low rates of labour turnover suggest that some workers at the top end of the labour market are staying put in their jobs in these economically uncertain times, meaning employers have to work harder than ever to find the right talent to fill vacancies.”
So what actions are U.K. employers taking to enhance their ability to attract and retain talent?
“Unsurprisingly employers seek to diversify their resourcing strategies, with an increase in spend on social and professional networking sites, commercial job boards and apprenticeships,” notes CIPD.
Further, nearly three-quarters of organizations “made efforts to improve their employer brand” over the last year.
Some strategies for enhancing recruitment efforts include focusing more on younger workers. More than a quarter of respondents reported they are employing more people 16 to 24 years of age. A third of respondents have adapted recruitment processes to become more accessible to younger candidates, most commonly through programs to train and develop young people, by linking with educational institutions, and/or through a greater use of online recruitment and social media.
A quarter of the organizations surveyed operate a structured graduate recruitment program, although CIPD notes this was considerably more common in larger organizations. Further, nearly half of the respondents offer apprenticeships, with an additional 14 per cent planning to introduce them in the next 12 months.
From an employee retention perspective, the majority of respondents reported taking one or more steps to address staff retention in 2012, although one in five indicated that no specific retention initiatives were undertaken.
The most common actions to address retention included:
- Improving the induction process.
- Improving line managers’ people skills.
- Increasing learning and development opportunities.
In addition, organizations took actions to improve their employer brand, including:
- Conducting an employee survey.
- Developing an online career site.
- Attending graduate career fairs.
- Extending flexible working arrangements.
Regardless of how your organization is currently positioned with respect to talent, it is important to have a clear talent strategy and to be continuously identifying opportunities to strengthen the employer brand. Demographic shifts, including an aging workforce, are a global reality that few organizations will be able to evade longer term.
Claudine Kapel is principal of Kapel and Associates Inc., a Toronto-based human resources and communications consulting firm specializing in the design and implementation of compensation and total rewards programs. For more information, visit www.kapelandassociates.com.