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The R generation

The R generation

The R word – recession, it invokes an array of negative thoughts for many, however a recent report, World of Work, shows that something positive has come out of it with candidates skilling-up to get ahead in the competitive market. But with 50 of candidates feeling that their skills are going unutilised by employers, something has got to give.

‘Generation R’
The report highlights that the economic downturn has prompted a large number of candidates to develop their skill sets further with 23 of those surveyed doing so within the last 18 months.  A third of permanent staff and a fifth of freelance or contract workers are increasing their employment value and skills in order to compensate for talent gaps, due to organisations not hiring new staff to fulfil roles. This has had a knock on effect with 10 of candidates taking up positions that don’t maximise their skills sets and experience.

Misunderstood talent
What is perhaps more interesting though is the fact that the employers surveyed felt that the main factors influencing an employee’s decision to remain within an organisation were the brand, benefits/package and the culture. Employees drastically disproved this stating that remuneration, training and development, a good career path and flexibility were top of the list.

Brian Wilkinson, Head of Randstad UK said “Our report highlights that there is a gap between what organisations think will motivate their key talent to stay with them and what their employees actually say will retain them.  The research also showed that a quarter of workers, who are not actively looking, would consider changing employer if something attractive came up.  It is important that organisations act now to resolve this gulf in understanding, otherwise they risk losing talented people who have up-skilled during the recession and made themselves more valuable.”  

What about the creative sector?
At Major Players we’ve noticed a significant shortage in talent across all industries; this has been confirmed by the report. The primary reason for this is attributed to the rise in digital, the new and ever evolving sector means that candidates are in a constant state of catch up, desperately trying to develop and adapt their skill sets for the advancing digital space. One area that has been flagged up in particular is PR, a sector where the ability to effectively use social media channels as a PR tool is becoming increasingly important. However our recent research indicated that candidates are already rising to the challenge with 17 of PR professionals referencing social media on their CVs, compared to 6 back in January of this year.

Mark Begley, Major Players Head of Recruitment for Creative, Digital and Design Jobs sheds some light on the cause of the talent shortage: “I think that the reason for the talent shortage within the creative sector is largely due to two things, the first being the boom in freelance work. As a freelancer it can be harder to continually develop your skill base, it’s down to them the individual to push themselves and as freelancers are often booked to do a job that you already know how to do, there’s no investment in training or development from the employer as you’re not a permanent member of staff. But the money is good, so a lot of people turn to freelance for that reason – however the knock on effect is that some freelancers are playing safe and not developing themselves which eventually leads to a talent shortage.”
“The second reason is linked to the investment in digital. Many candidates say that they are advanced in digital or are taking steps to get themselves up to speed, however many are simply paying lip service and not truly immersing themselves in digital, they need to be actively driving digital into every aspect of communication. Candidates need to become not only clued up on digital through study and research but also commercially so that they can prove how to apply it effectively.”

Retain your talent
As the report explains, talent retention is becoming increasingly difficult for many organisations as the market recovers; this is primarily down to a general lack of understanding between employer and employee. Major Players, CEO Jack Gratton offers advice and insight into tackling the issue: “Rebuilding them demands that leaders take time to step back from the day-to-day running of the operation, and dedicate real energy to reconnecting with staff. The key to this is taking practical actions which will promote retention and attraction. The needs are to develop the skills of existing employees, to enhance workplace benefits and rewards, and to refresh commitments to corporate responsibility”

From a digital perspective, there are increasing demands for digital producers, designers and project managers. The 2011 launch of Project Canvas will boost this further. With digital becoming so integrated into the mainstream, there is both a need to find and develop new talent and to broaden the talents of those who have traditionally strong vertical skills. What is deemed attractive has changed during the downturn – career paths and quality training & development have become key differentiators. Fears of job loss are most pronounced amongst 18-24 yr olds, but they also have the most confidence in finding replacement work

Technology is increasing access to learning and skills, visibility of our workforce and its productivity, and transparency of information that people previously could not access. Globalisation will lead to cross-generational, international skills pools, which organisations will need to learn how to engage and reward. A stronger interest in working on a freelance basis is evident in all areas of the industry. Whilst organisations increasingly seek to capture scarce skills on a permanent basis, offering some of the benefits that are not available to freelancers, the interest in a career passing across organisations rather than charted within one seems set to continue to gather in popularity.



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