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It’s up to business leaders to build skills and support social mobility

With 20+ years of experience, CEO of Resource Solutions Norma Gillespie is among an inspiring cohort of women leading the way and pushing boundaries in the recruitment industry.    Norma was named on the Staffing Industry Analyst (SIA) ‘2020 Global Power 150 – Women in Staffing List’ in 2020.

Unsurprisingly, the past 12 months have forced us to recalibrate and reimagine the ways in which we work. But much of that debate has focused on where we’ll work and when. I believe the more important question is: how we will work in future? What skills will businesses need as they innovate and create value? And how can we prepare the workforce to meet the future of work so our economies thrive.

I was delighted to see the government promising a skills “revolution” in the Queen’s speech earlier this month. This is exactly how our nation should think. And our business leaders must take this vision forward.

The workforce of tomorrow will be more fluid than ever before. We all recognise talent pools have widened as hybrid working has blurred geographical boundaries. The thinking should not stop there.

The job market is awash with candidates seeking to redeploy valuable skills and experience in new and different environments. There are talented, hard working and motivated people, everywhere, ready to make a difference. Their circumstances could have changed during the pandemic, or they may want to take on a new challenge. They have the aptitude to succeed, and the desire to learn at speed.

The problem is, due to traditional CV based assessment methods, many will struggle to get a foot in the door. If they do not have 5 years’ prior experience as a project manager, or a degree in maths from a Russell Group university, they are immediately discounted. If we genuinely want a skills “revolution” and levelling up of the economy, this must change.

Take Aniqa as an example, a recent graduate of our Accelerate Academy programme. She has extensive experience in the charity and housing sectors, including assuming responsibility for streamlining operations to improve profitability. After maternity leave, she craved change, and wanted to work in financial services. But she couldn’t secure an interview anywhere.

We spent eight weeks working with Aniqa to train her as a business analyst, re-engineering her existing and highly desirable skill sets to suit the needs of global brands. The result has been fantastic. She is now a fully trained business analyst and ready to support one of our global banking clients.

We launched the Accelerate programme because we are passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion. We are lucky to work with some fantastic clients who share our desire for building skills and promoting equal opportunities for all, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, location, professional or educational background. The first cohort of candidates have just graduated the programme, and I am incredibly excited to see what they will achieve next.

If you are a business leader, think carefully about how you approach talent. Identify and understand the practical skills you need your employees to command. Consider how those skills could be developed outside of your own industry, and the benefits that could bring to your organisation. Invest in people and open doors. You will be surprised by the results.

Our workforce is brimming with talented people willing to work, grow and adapt to match the needs of tomorrow. Let’s enable them to do just that.

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