Safeguarding the UK’s future by building its talent pool today

Phil Coulter underlines the importance of a talent strategy in 2018.

With the age of digital disruption transforming business models, industries and working practices, jobs that didn’t exist just a short time ago are being created.

Seeing an increased demand for new skill sets in virtually every job and profession, hiring and retaining workers who are agile and who can adapt to the fast pace of change is and will be vital for staying ahead of the curve.

This was made clear from the latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which revealed the sharpest drop in the number of people in work in almost three years. This is putting even more pressure on businesses to attract people with the skills required for the age of digital disruption.

Not only is this important for organisations individually, upskilling is vital for the country’s future. Putting this into perspective, a new report from BT and Accenture found that boosting technology skills will improve job prospects, thus in turn boosting the UK’s economy.

So what can organisations do to safeguard their businesses now and in the future?

From the collaboration between industry and education to ensuring a leadership pipeline is put in place, there are a number of ways that businesses – both small and large – can work together to upskill both the current and future workforce.

A rapidly changing economy has meant it’s never been more important for industry and education to come together to promote the uptake of the relevant skills.

Industry meets education

As we move into the age of IoT, robotics and smart cities, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and digital skills are fundamental for the UK economy.

Whilst the responsibility for upskilling the next generation has, in the past, landed on education institutions, a rapidly changing economy has meant it’s never been more important for industry and education to come together to promote the uptake of the relevant skills.

What’s positive is that this already being recognised and acted upon.

Take the 2017 Autumn Budget as a perfect example of this. The Chancellor promising to ensure every secondary school pupil can study computing, by tripling the number of trained computer science teachers to 12,000, demonstrates just how positive it is to see how high technology skills are up on the national agenda. 

As the generation penned to navigate the UK’s future, it’s vital we ensure we are investing at the very beginning, helping to better prepare the younger generation before they enter the workforce.

Fostering a leadership pipeline

Because of a growing appreciation for the economic impact to a business when recruiting the wrong hire, organisations must go beyond simply filling a seat by streamlining their recruitment and talent management strategies to support their long-term business development goals.

One of the biggest changes that businesses will face off the back of this transformation will be the need for employees to be more agile. As not everyone has this ability to learn new skills on the job, recognising those that do at hiring stage will be critical.

What’s great however, is that in recent years, pinpointing this has been made all the more easy through assessment tools which leverage large volumes of data in order to identify specific aspects of an individual or organisation.  

Upskilling current employees

Although its essential businesses introduce fresh blood, it’s important to not forget the talent you already have internally.

Whilst in previous years, there has often been a gross misconception that training employees is costly and not necessary, improving employees’ knowledge in different areas of the business will make a huge impact on staff retention and employee success.

Take the example of an Accenture report which found 55% of employees cannot remember receiving specific cybersecurity training. With both the increasing risk of cyber-attacks on a company – which employees are on the frontline of – not to mention the approaching General Data Protection Regulation, cyber-security training should be top-of-mind.

To deliver on this, organisations should look to put in place centralised platforms which bring together data on employee performance and training is just one way to better manage and facilitate the development of internal candidates.

A strategic approach to talent

With all the changes taking place around us, the time is now for talent acquisition professionals and business leaders to adopt a more strategic approach to the future and current workforce. With such an approach, organisations can ensure they’ll have the right employees to drive their future success.

This means planning hires and spotting skill requirements early, with a close powerful tie to the business to help inform strategic needs.

With all this in mind, one thing is clear, it is those that neglect a forward-thinking approach that will be the ones left struggling behind their competitors. 


About the author

Phil Coulter is EMEA head of technology at Korn Ferry Futurestep.



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