CBI turns attention to the 'war on talent'

Tuesday 31 March 2015

The skills shortage is continuing to occupy the minds of UK businesses and at the recent Employment and Skills Network event, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) turned their attention to the 'war on talent'.

A panel of speakers took to the floor at King's College London's Great Hall, including HR directors and the King's vice-principal for education.

What ensued was a debate on how to attract and develop "diverse, mobile and committed staff".

The group acknowledged that the skills shortage is now the biggest threat to workforce competitiveness, with nearly half of all businesses lacking confidence in finding enough recruits to fill the high-skilled jobs of the future.

During the discussion it was decided that businesses need to 'grow their own talent' to help them avoid falling prey to the skills shortage over the long-term. This includes targeting schools and engaging with universities and colleges to help them understand the skills that businesses require.

Experts also identified that businesses need to create an offering that recognises that people want progression and professional growth. Indeed, in the modern workplace the focus is on careers, not jobs.

Linked to this is the rollout of a degree of autonomy at all levels. According to those present at the CBI event, autonomy is key to employee engagement as it shows that 'everyone can be great', thereby playing into the call for greater development opportunities.

Other key talking points at the event were the importance of flexibility in the workplace for attracting and retaining talent, making proper use of social media to ensure diversity in recruits, and being realistic when hiring candidates.

These areas will no doubt be crucial in helping organisations win the war for talent, but in the short-term there needs to be a two-pronged approach.

Andrew Fahey, Commercial Director, Brookson, said: ''Finding ways to attract and keep talent is only part of the battle for tackling the skills shortage. Organisations need to be able to draw on flexible labour and this is where contractors come in.

''The self-employed are crucial for plugging the skills gap, allowing companies to quickly and effectively tap into experience and skills. This is a quick win for businesses and while the contractor market is increasingly competitive, companies that can harness this form of flexible working will be able to draw on the dual benefit of using this experienced group to educate new recruits.''

The CBI event comes after the University of Cumbria vice chancellor Peter Strike told in-cumbria that the area could be facing a severe skills shortage.

This is because there has been over £600 million poured into just two nuclear businesses. What's more, Cumbria has a relatively small population.

"It makes your eyes water to think that all of these investments will be supported by a population of just 500,000 people," Mr Strike told the news provider.

By Victoria McDonnell

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