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Why local talent is the key to solving the staffing crisis

Kathryn Jeacock - Recruitment Correspondent

When it comes to sourcing talent, businesses in the major employment hubs, such as London or Birmingham, have no issue attracting personnel. With the promise of thriving social lives, diverse communities and an abundance of housing, young workers tend to gravitate towards these areas, allowing employers to pick from the nation’s brightest and best.

But for the employers situated elsewhere across the country, this can provide challenges to securing a sustainable talent pipeline, attracting new personnel, and bringing onboard the skills needed to operate competitively.

Despite the disruption caused by the pandemic, recent reports suggest that the trend for young people migrating into UK cities for work is once again on the incline, with a City Hall report identifying a high number of young adults returning to the city, and the population increasing for the first time since 2020.

Employers are now at a point where they can start to turn the tide, and stem the brain drain in their areas to major cities, taking advantage of the shift in working habits. Through our work with employers, we’ve seen the benefits of taking advantage of local talent to reduce recruitment costs, increase the skills on offer to them, and boost retention. But this recommendation begs the question… how to begin?

1. Start now
With the workforce still reeling from some of the effects of the pandemic, including delays to academic milestones, and continued pressure to work from home for some sectors, employers looking to recruit from their local talent pool have the opportunity to recruit local talent before the workforce returns to “normal”.

What the last year has shown us is that organisations need to be agile to changing circumstances, as beginning to forge links with accessible talent can help businesses adapt, and meet changing demand amid future uncertainties.

And with the UK government’s ambitions for becoming a global science and tech super power, investment in the sector is at a high, and employers should take advantage of incentives on offer, to bolster their workforce and forge links with local communities benefiting from funding.

2. Think ahead
Often when young people get to working age, they’ll already have a clear sense of ambitions, in terms of the industry and geography they would like to work in. Employers wanting to attract the best talent from their region should start working with them earlier in their education journey, and demonstrate the value of their sector to students and their parents.

Many sectors, such as construction, are suffering from ageing workforces, which risks their ability to weather further changes, and rise to increases in demand, and so forging early links with local authorities sooner rather than later can help young talent to benefit from real time experience, and the expertise of established colleagues through workplace learning incentives like apprenticeships.

Building relationships with local schools can enable employers to raise their profile in relevant talent pools, offering work experience programmes to young and enthusiastic pupils, or providing information to interested candidates and their parents can help to snap up local skills before they migrate to bigger employment hubs. Employers who successfully do this, and offer training and development opportunities, will find that they have a more engaged, loyal and productive workforce.

3. Work with a trusted partner
Working with a talent partner that understands your sector can help to pinpoint the skills and characteristics that are most valuable when recruiting young talent. Hiring school leavers with the right values, who demonstrate an enthusiasm for the sector, can prevent migration of young talent from a region, often accelerated by those travelling to university.

After many years of disruption to the traditional academic pathways for candidates, employers that cast their net wider, and place less precedent on grades, can begin to foster a more sustainable talent pipeline, when appropriate work based learning is employed, looking for the characteristics required for a role, and bringing candidates up to standard through training. This can make recruitment more affordable, and allow employers to tailor-make the candidates they want and need.

Partnering with an expert in your sector can help to pinpoint the right candidates, and intervene in the recruitment process earlier. As an apprentice provider, Tiro has seen the benefits of highlighting the changing values in the labour market, such as the demand to start earning, and avoid the massive outlay of attending university, which, when communicated effectively, can put our regionalised clients at a competitive advantage.

As employers get to grips with the new realities of working, cultivating a loyal and effective workforce will be vital to their survival. This is most important for provincial businesses, who now have the opportunity to compete as candidates adjust to the new status quo, while those who fail to seize the opportunity risk being left behind.

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