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Attracting talent during a skills shortage

18 April 2022

Both Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic have taken a toll on the recruitment process and employers are having a hard time attracting talent. Employees are reluctant to switch roles due to uncertainty, outsourcing workers from the European Union isn’t on the cards anymore, and employees are lacking both hard and soft skills. 



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In a recent KPMG pulse survey, 70% of the surveyed companies said that they found it difficult or very difficult to attract and retain employees. Upskilling existing employees is becoming essential for retaining and attracting new talent.

Over 50% of the respondents in the KPMG survey believe that flexibility in terms of skills and career development is critical.

Attracting the best talent starts in-house. For an employee to leave an organisation, apart from personal reasons, they might feel underappreciated, stuck, or unfairly treated. Providing additional training and demonstrating a culture of learnability through the organisation can not only map out a pathway of progression for current employees but also attract new talent.

The skills shortage is primarily affecting trade sectors. According to the 14th ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage survey, conducted in Q3 of 2021, the three most in-demand roles in the UK are operations/logistics, manufacturing/production, and IT/data. 

Engineering has been suffering from labour shortages for a while, which peaked during the pandemic, and there are several reasons for this – firstly it is an industry with an ageing workforce. ThisWeekInFm points out that, in 2018, 19.5% of engineers working in the UK were due to retire by 2026. 

According to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, the food and beverage processing sector will need 140,000 recruits by 2024, to replace retiring older employees. It plays a major role in the UK economy, contributing around £30bn and employing almost 400,000 workers. But the skills shortage situation is taking its toll on supply chains. The shortage of workers in warehouses and food processing centres, as well as lorry drivers, is impacting the supermarket shelves.

Tesco bosses warned that the vacancies were creating 48 tonnes of food waste each week in 2021 –the equivalent of two truckloads.

Going soft?
The most in-demand soft skills in the UK today are accountability, reliability, and discipline. Resilience, stress tolerance, adaptability, as well as leadership and social influence, are also hard to find.

While just a few years ago the recruitment focus might have been on hard skills only, today soft skills are seen as essential, which makes the market more competitive and the demands higher. Today it is essential to be able to work in a team, communicate ideas, and showcase adaptability and leadership skills.


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