Employers and recruiters issue call to arms on war for talent
The House of Commons provided an appropriate setting for the recent round-table between leading recruiters and employers to discuss UK skills shortages and the intensifying ‘war for talent’.
The event was co-hosted by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s Industry Research Unit and Cordoba Consulting and was sponsored by Charles Walker MP.
Guest speaker Sir Digby Jones, the recently appointed Skills Envoy and former CBI Director General, outlined the scale of the issue and its impact on UK businesses Government figures confirm that five million adults in the UK lack functional literacy and 17 million adults have difficulty with numbers. This, combined with serious sector skill shortages in some areas is having a significant and detrimental impact on productivity and the UK’s competitiveness on the world stage.
Recruiters and employers agree that the shortage of skills is one of the main challenges facing their respective businesses. Employee attitude is a real issue and school leavers often lack essential soft skills such as inter-personal skills, customer service and personal initiative.
Another key theme to emerge from the discussions was the increasingly global nature of recruitment and the search for talent. Emerging talent pools in India and China continue to raise the stakes. Unless the ambitious targets for up-skilling the workforce outlined in the Leitch Report are embraced and met, the UK risks becoming an economic backwater as our global competitiveness declines.
Commenting on the debate between employers and recruiters on how best to win the war for talent, Roger Tweedy, the REC’s Director of Research says: “Employers are now acknowledging a seismic change in their Board’s attitudes towards people management. For many businesses the demand for talent at all levels and the deployment of human capital is becoming a strategic issue for the first time.
“This is a challenge but also a huge opportunity for the recruitment industry in terms of the support and expertise that agencies can provide in sourcing candidates with the specialist skills that employers in many key sectors are crying out for”.
The skills agenda will continue to pose significant challenges to UK business. Within this context, greater understanding and co-operation between government, skills bodies, employers, recruiters, schools and further education providers is essential. The REC will continue to co-ordinate the recruitment industry’s input in this area and to showcase the timely data generated through the Industry Research Unit.