The 12-million-strong skills gap: why organizations have to think long term

The 12-million-strong skills gap: why organizations have to think long term

26/01/2021

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A skills gap has always been a byproduct of innovation. The difference we're now seeing? An exponential rate of change. This is driving an unprecedented demand for new skills, creating a growing challenge as companies struggle to hire the talent they need.

 

In October last year, Becs Roycroft, Senior Director at mthree, spoke to Business Reporter about the impending skills gap. Since then, the World Economic Forum has confirmed that they expect that technology advancements will create 97 million jobs by 2025.

 

That’s 97 million brand new roles that nobody's ever done before. And at the same time, as many as 85 million jobs could be displaced by technology.

 

Even if you were to reskill all 85 million people – playing an epic game of musical chairs – this still leaves 12 million empty seats.

 

Typical recruitment strategies, such as in-house HR teams or recruitment agencies, simply can’t keep up with this level of demand.

 

A DEVELOPING PROBLEM

 

We’re being outpaced by the tech we work with. Alongside new jobs being created, automation and unsupervised learning in machine learning is on the rise. The result? A growing number of human roles becoming redundant.

 

The consequence of this is twofold. Businesses will increasingly find themselves understaffed in essential functions, and at the same time, a huge group of people are at risk of unemployment.

 

With the future of businesses at stake, leaders must take a long-term approach. Firstly by capturing the best emerging talent (which is becoming exponentially harder as the talent pool shrinks), and secondly by unleashing the talent that already exists within their organizations.

 

THE END OF THE “QUICK FIX”?

 

Short-term solutions to talent shortages, like outsourcing work to heavyweight contractors, aren’t sustainable for the long term. They expose businesses to an unacceptable level of volatility, month to month and year to year.

 

Rather than looking for immediate results, businesses need to invest in hiring strategies that will go the distance – such as building their own talent pipeline of emerging talent.

 

Every year, millions of graduates are out of university, eager to learn the skills to start their career. They offer perspective, energy, and an awareness of the ever-changing nature of technology, from interactive whiteboards to online games. While this doesn’t equate to instant coding genius, learning new processes is the norm. Arguably a make-or-break factor in most future jobs in tech.

 

MAKING EMERGING TALENT WORKABLE

 

Enthusiasm is a brilliant foundation, but academia lags behind the needs of industry. A student might do a module on Java at university – which has little to do with building a payments platform in Java for an investment bank.

 

This often leads to a lengthy onramp before a recent grad can stand on their own two feet. They don’t necessarily know how to use what they know in a business setting.

 

A young person’s success in their first professional job depends on two things. Tailored training and continuous support. Worth the effort, but a lot to ask of any team with plenty on their plate already.

 

That’s why these two areas form the basis of our Alumni graduate program. Every Alumni gets trained in the specific technical skills they’ll need in their role, and our dedicated engagement team supports them throughout their placement with the client.

 

UNLOCKING POTENTIAL IN YOUR CURRENT HEADCOUNT

 

The automation of millions of jobs over the next few years is one of the 21st century’s biggest elephants in the room. Not only will millions of people be out of a job – stuck with skills that have gone out of fashion – but few companies enjoy dealing with the reputational damage of mass redundancies.

 

Businesses can solve both problems at once by reskilling their existing employees. When a new position is created, why not open it up to people inside the business and provide them with the training needed to perform the role?

 

As technological advances increase, an ability to learn things on demand outstrips the value of many years of experience, especially for mid-level jobs. For instance, a popular reskilling brief for us at mthree involves helping customer service experts retrain for technical helpdesk roles.

 

The benefits here speak for themselves. Building adaptability into your organizational DNA, retaining valuable company knowledge, and boosting morale by showing that you invest in your workforce.

 

And of course, internal transfers could mean opening up a very different demographic. Great news for organizations looking to shake up non-diverse departments.

 

DIVERSITY AND COST-SAVINGS AS A SIDE EFFECT

 

We’re seeing more and more organizations close their skills gap by training emerging talent and reskilling employees, instead of traditional recruitment and internal graduate programs. 

 

When you’re fishing in a different pond, diversity happens by default – and it’s not the only advantage.

 

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh once estimated bad hires had cost the company well over $100 million. But even without mistakes, recruitment is expensive. Especially when trying to find experts like data scientists who are highly sought after.

 

What if you could develop those experts in house?

 

Creating a career path for your employees is a huge motivating force for them to stick around, so you’ll not only save on recruitment costs, but also the time costs of integrating a new person into the business.

 

FUTUREPROOFING YOUR BUSINESS WITH MTHREE

 

Young people are the key to keeping you at the forefront of your industry, provided they’ve been trained to translate theory into execution.

 

The same is true of your existing employees. By investing in reskill training, you’ll have a versatile workforce that’s ready to learn the new technologies you’ll need.

 

Together, they could be all it takes for you to ward off the widening skills gap.

 

Has any of this struck a chord with you? We’d love to help. To find out more, tell us what you have in mind at info@mthree.com.