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Why a recession won’t ease the talent gap

Lee Parker | 1 February 2023

According to many, if not all analysts (including the International Monetary Fund), the UK is on the brink of recession. A little less abrupt than in 2008, but just as destructive. As seen on the news all industries are impacted. Even industries that have been booming, such as Big Tech, are not immune from job losses.

So where does that leave those looking to bring in some new talent?

Well, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Yes, a recession does lead to job losses but it’s usually within more labour and retail-based jobs – especially as the cost of living crisis hits. There still will be a strong demand for niche and skilled jobs. A lot of those jobs which are being lost have stemmed from the post-lockdown boom the economy went through. Your Metas, Googles and other businesses have quickly found that their teams are bloated and are cutting jobs to yes, cut costs, but also streamline operations with more skilled positions.

The issue for many organisations lies within the fact that during the pandemic many skilled workers, predominantly from the Boomer generation stepped away from the workforce, opting for softer living approaches, a career change and some just took early retirement. Businesses now have a smaller pool of younger workers to pick from. The Gen Z and millennial workforce hold a different viewpoint on work than the generations that came before them. Things like job hopping have become common with one in three 18-24-year-olds actively looking for new positions. This consequently makes it difficult to fill roles where a steady experienced hand is needed.

 

What can be done?

With employers reporting that they are finding it much harder to source talent from abroad since freedom of movement for EU workers was ended alongside years of underinvestment in the UK training system all coupled with the looming backdrop of a recession, here are a few tips for businesses to bridge the skills gap and land the talent needed.

 

Tap into skills adjacency

Skills adjacency is in short upskilling an employee or talent with existing skills. Gone are the days of having people fit into strict job descriptions. With the world of work finding its feet after a pandemic and now having to deal with a possible recession, the talent market will become stretched. You want to be ahead of the curve, especially with the oncoming automation. A LinkedIn report stated, “The most competitive businesses will be those that choose to reskill and upskill current employees”.

Read up further on how skills adjacency could be the answer to your talent problems in our dedicated blog post here.

 

Training for all

One of the biggest issues facing the employment market post-pandemic is the number of baby boomers who have decided to leave the workforce. Leaving employers to pick from a much smaller pool of workers. Neil Carberry, head of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, explains that “there were 50% more babies born in 1964 than in 1977 and they have stayed in work longer. The pandemic was the moment many decided to step back”. Adding to this is the fact that, more than three-quarters of small UK businesses have struggled to recruit in the past 12 months, with 82% blaming a lack of candidates with the right experience.

The time is now for organisations to create training and skills boot camps that can help not only the older generation upskill into more digital-centred roles but also provide the newer generation entering the workforce with the requisite experience and know-how to work within the niche and specialised industries. There’s a great appetite for it too with 63% of nearly 50,000 16-24-year-olds surveyed, saying that learning new skills was important to them. BT has taken it upon itself to go down the route of apprenticeships to build not only a more diverse workforce but create a talent pipeline too.

 

As businesses grapple with the issue of filling those specialised roles they should be mindful of their approach. New problems call for new approaches. Organisations should be open to tapping into unfulfilled potential, amidst those being let go you can find a hungry workforce who are willing to retrain and upskill in order to move into skills and jobs that have been and will be less affected by a recession.

If you want to find out how to ease your talent problems and bring in the necessary talent for those specialised roles, get in touch to speak to one of our consultants to see how we can help.

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