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UK – ‘Grow your own’ talent strategy key to securing talent

06 March 2014

Businesses are adapting to deal with the changing landscape of entry-level employees, according to Tomorrow’s Talent, a research report produced by workforce solutions company Experis, part of ManpowerGroup, in association with employer brand and communications agency ThirtyThree.

A series of in-depth interviews with senior HR and talent acquisition professionals analysed their strategies in managing the future talent of organisations at entry-level (including school leavers, interns, apprentices, and graduates), to examine the challenges facing employers and identify common themes and implications.

Research participants confirmed the talent mismatch facing organisations, with employers experiencing frustration regarding the competence level of UK graduates in both hard and soft skills. Recognising the gap between the skills entry-level talent bring from education and the skills that are required for the workforce, the research revealed a rise in growing experts internally. This involves talent undertaking a structured, bespoke training programme in-house, in some cases in conjunction with a university leading to a work-based degree.

This ‘grow your own’ approach allows employers to be more actively involved in the skills development of their employees from the earliest stage of their career, ensuring skills are tailored to the needs of the organisation and providing the company the opportunity to shape individuals for a stronger cultural fit.

Employers are widening the talent pool in other ways, particularly in relation to highly technical fields with skills shortages; such as IT and Engineering. Solutions to being unable to source suitably skilled graduates with ‘relevant degrees’ include being more flexible in their approach to the qualifications of entry-level talent. The research identified that employers are recognising a need to think more laterally around alternative academic backgrounds that would present transferrable skills and abilities. For example, when recruiting in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) disciplines, being open to the possibility that a candidate with a classics and language background could become a good programmer.

The research also found that over the next decade the development of a global mind-set will be of paramount importance. To thrive, entry-level talent will need to demonstrate their understanding of the global market, and their ability to successfully interact with colleagues, suppliers, and clients from across borders. Employers have a role to play in helping tomorrow’s talent cultivate such a mind-set. To start instilling this outlook from an early career point may require employers to be more open to transferring junior talent overseas as part of their development. Those who are not in a position to provide such experiences must consider what alternatives can be offered to help entry-level employees become more globally minded and more able to prosper throughout their careers.

Commenting on the findings of Tomorrow’s Talent, Experis Managing Director UK & Ireland, Geoff Smith, observed: "We’re seeing more organisations taking responsibility for the challenges and opportunities that entry-level talent bring and actively work to narrow the gap between them and the rest of the workforce. This is good news for young people. A growing number of employers are looking at innovative ways to address issues such as a skills mismatch, and as we come out of the recession, we expect more organisations to invest in the development of tomorrow’s talent.”

Phill Lane, Head of Brand & Insight at ThirtyThree LLP, added: “There is clearly not only a need to match the skills available to the roles on offer but for UK graduates and school leavers to understand that global businesses need global perspectives. Whilst it would be unreasonable for employers to expect the finished article at point of entry, this work shows that they are already thinking ahead and that UK graduates who do the same will stand a far better chance of fulfilling their potential globally.”

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