Once Again the Skills Dilemma is in the News

Once again the skills dilemma is in the news! The results of the recent East Midlands Chamber survey highlight the challenge Nottingham’s manufacturers are facing in recruiting the right people for their vacancies. Not enough skilled people and too many jobs! Frustrating to businesses wanting to grow and painful to jobseekers desperate to get career stability.

I’ve written in the past about how the skills gap can be addressed, but that was months ago and we’re right back here again having the same debate. So what really needs to be done?

Everywhere we look we are faced with change, modernisation and technological advancement. Businesses expect our education systems to adapt, our jobseekers to jump through increasingly challenging hoops and government to cough up the cash to fund apprenticeships and other skills programmes – I can go on. But businesses aren’t doing enough to take responsibility, change their internal recruitment, training and talent programmes to take control and fill their own skills gap.

In my experience, businesses are still operating with archaic attitudes to people. HR departments are still transactional departments without having a real handle, or having the empowerment, to strategically adapt the recruitment and retention problems that are holding the business back.

HR needs to be welcomed to the boardroom on a red carpet and given the scope to create modern, creative and fit-for purpose people strategies that realistically reflect the business needs. They need to be given the freedom to step outside the traditional moulds of “personnel management” and step into the 21st century.

Before they even go to market with recruitment they will need to address a number of other internal activities first:

  • skills map: what skills are actually required to take the business forward. how technical are they? do they require some specialist technical qualification or could they be trained in-house? do you already have people with the right attitude who may be able to develop their skills set?
  • Training: What can your business do about the skills gap. for those technical skills you need, how can your business provide the training necessary. Having an in-house academy which can harness people from complementary industries, school leavers, or older people will not only help attract talent to your door, it will give them a reason to stay with you and not move to the competition.


Get creative with funding the academy – partner with businesses that need complementary skills, rotate staff with other businesses to give them varied experience, use your seniors to mentor newbies – giving them a new skillset too! and don’t forget local colleges and schools that you can engage with and share a training programme.

  • Reward: respond to changing expectations and requirements in reward and adapt the offer to cater for people at different stages in their life and career. One offer won’t fit your millennials, your gen x and your baby boomers!
  • Make it an experience: give your employees an experience from the moment they enter your business to the time they leave. Help them define their career path and provide suitable and cost effective learning opportunities to develop.
  • Now recruit: once you’ve identified the experience, what you are providing and how you’re going to skill up your own workforce you can take yourself to market and shout about what you’ve got to offer. Be creative and bold in your marketing and ensure it’s consistent from the advert, to the website to the interview experience.

If you can step away from ingrained, out of date methods and approaches to people you’ll start to reap the rewards. So many people are willing to learn, willing to push themselves and want to make a difference. it is down to businesses to take it upon themselves to provide the training required to get these people on and get them up to speed.