TJ interviews: Avenica’s Scott Dettman

Scott Dettman on how candidates and employers can make the most of entry-level working.

Reading time: 3 minutes

How would you describe the status of the entry-level job market right now? 
There is definitely a mismatch between supply and demand in the entry-level job market. The mismatch is not in the sheer number of jobs and jobseekers but rather in the delineation of what constitutes as an entry-level job. 

Over the past several years, we have seen a drastic increase in the number of skills required for entry-level roles.

The problem with this trend is that employers are, in many cases, using the addition of skill requirements in an attempt to identify better talent. 

However, in doing so, they are creating an adverse impact. This results in screening out otherwise strong candidates from consideration through the use of skill matching algorithms.

Many employers are also looking to fill entry-level jobs with candidates who already have a few years of experience on the job. 

In 2018, a job-matching software firm analysed 95,000 job openings and found 61% of the full-time entry-level positions required at least three years’ experience. 

We continue to hear from employers that jobseekers with digital skills are lacking in the soft skills it takes to truly be effective in the world of work

So, while the number of open jobs remains steady for now, many of those jobs are going unfilled or, in many cases, are being filled by overqualified candidates.

More than half of true entry-level jobseekers are left underemployed, taking jobs that don’t require a degree, or worse, unemployed. 

What are some soughtafter skills that employers are not seeing  in today’s entry-level workforce? 

There  is an increasing demand for advanced digital and technological skills due to the continued digitisation and a reliance on technology across all industries. 

That said, we continue to hear from employers that jobseekers with digital skills are lacking in the soft skills it takes to truly be effective in the world of work. 

One survey conducted for the book Goliath’s Revenge found only 27% of small companies and 29% of large companies believe they have the digital talent they require. 

The inverse of this problem manifests in jobs that are not traditionally considered to require hard technical skills but increasingly are demanding software or enterprise system experience.  

What can employers do to better support entry-level candidates?
We’re seeing great success in engaging entry-level talent in career discovery.



Planning around the candidate’s interests, values and career aspirations, and aligning that with a path that includes their current role, helps create true connectivity to their work. 

Combining this type of support with access to self-paced educational opportunities to upskill, and further develop existing skill areas, is a great recipe for high engagement, greater retention and an overall better workforce. 

What takeaways can you offer training teams that would help support their efforts to reduce that skills gap with newly hired entry-level talent?
Ongoing training is one of the most difficult, but most impactful, ways for employers to level up their talent and for employees to advance their career.

One way training teams can reduce the skills gap is to tie specific training to career advancement and earning  outcomes. Training for the sake of training is often fraught with low completion rates and relatively low engagement.

That said, training that aligns to specific outcomes, like a job opportunity or increase in pay, is a great motivator to really embed ongoing training into the DNA of an employee and/or an organization’s culture.


About the interviewee

Scott Dettman is CEO of Avenica


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