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How can employers tackle the skills shortage?

Nick Gold - Speakers Corner

If the conversation in the first wave of the pandemic was when will life return to how it was before, we now understand that there will be no return to what was before.  There is only looking forward to what will be.  But the future has uncertainty etched all over it, so to thrive  is to adapt.

Individuals are looking for purpose. They are looking to marry up their values and goals, not just in their personal life, but also in their work life. They aspire to live their lives as a whole, rather than as different personas which historically is how we have assimilated into the environment we are in at that moment in time.  The pandemic has bought a clarity of vision to many people that they should be looking for work to be a part of their life, rather than a separate section of it.

The business world meanwhile is in equal parts looking forward and, dealing with uncertainty.  This is a daily challenge as they try to re-imagine how their business can and will operate in the future. The rate of change is happening at a speed that exceeds anything that has been seen previously, and is only going to speed up in the future.

This provides businesses and individuals a chance to grow together.  It is too easy to look at this negatively and see a mismatch between the employees and the employers, a digression of interests but in actual fact, it is the opposite if the employer positions themselves in the right way.

Embracing the unknown means a business has to start relying on their employers being able to adapt and develop new skills in a changing landscape.  Skill sets are no longer applicable to be honed to specific tasks or expertise, after all what might be relevant today, could be irrelevant or replaceable tomorrow as the world embraces changes.  Change bought about not solely by the pandemic but also by critical factors shaping our lives such as climate change or through technology.  Companies should be looking to provide an environment for people to grow and become the best version of who they could be which sits with their own personal goals.

If historically companies developed their teams by identifying skill gaps and then targeting training around those skills, this methodology becomes redundant as the skills required for any role are undefined or evolving.  As such companies have the opportunity to develop people as a whole for who they are, not for how they fit within the workplace.  By utilising outside voices and influences to sow ideas, shape thought and challenge behaviour, this will give every person a chance to fulfil their own potential..  This is a more fluid development path which can enable individuals to fulfil their purpose as a whole and deliver the company a full rounded individual who can take the company on a journey which isn’t linear.

This new way of learning and developing not only benefits the individuals but also means development of the team together.  As training and development transcends into personal growth through learning from experiences and thoughts of others, these opportunities can be embraced as a shared experience between all team members together..  This will trigger discussion and debate within the team, as individuals learn and grow with each other thus laying foundations for strengthening bonds between teams.   A company culture of continual learning is developed in this new world of hybrid working in a world where the working practices and places are no longer clearly defined.

Any company who dedicates itself to this path can set itself up and broadcast a story which is an attractive proposition to potential candidates.  The job advert that traditionally was used to publicise role availability used to be the first and last stepping stone before a potential applicant would decide whether to apply.  Now, it is merely the opening salvo and candidates have access to information about a prospective employer like never before.  There is no doubting that a company who can demonstrate growth and development of their team as people rather than just employees through the stories that are shared on social channels will be attractive to potential candidates as well as people who are already embedded within the company.

To embrace the uncertainty that surrounds the workplace and the challenges of recruitment and retention utilising external voices and ideas to help people develop as individuals raises the possibility for any company of opportunities which, maybe, would have passed by when the working landscape existed in clearly defined career paths and training plans.

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