It's no surprise that the issues surrounding Brexit have certainly added a lot of uncertainty for most businesses in the UK, but following the election in December and the passing of January 31st, a sense of calm seems to be the order of the day.
Speaking to business leaders at recent events and meetings, the general consensus seems to be that they can now start to make solid plans for the future and so a sense of confidence appears to have set in.
I was surprised then this week to see some stark figures in two articles talking about the challenges faced by UK engineering companies at the moment. Firstly, in an article on the Business Leader website, Simon Angear asks the question "Is UK Engineering facing a skills crisis?" He cites research carried out by MPA that shows 37% of respondents felt that a skills shortage is the main issue facing the sector at the moment.
Secondly, Sanwar Ali of Workpermit.com, discusses the reduction in tier 2 visa applications, with the technology sector being notably affected by a 17% reduction.
I know that I have spoken with hiring managers who work for cutting edge technology and engineering businesses, who feel that in order to keep innovating, thus maintaining their competitive advantage, they need to attract the best talent from around the globe. Over the last ten years, they have invested a lot of time and effort into developing immigration sponsorship programmes. These statistics would certainly give them pause for thought.
These figures are part of a wider picture though and for all businesses, staff attraction and retention strategies need to be a major focus. Only a few years ago the discussion seemed to be about how to attract workers from the millennial generation, with much of the thinking suggesting that "millennials" were a breed apart and needed to be treated differently to workers from other groups. Much of the thinking I saw at the time was suggesting that millennial workers needed to be engaged with on a deeper level, so that they felt that they were serving a greater purpose, or even making a difference to the world through their work.
As a recruiter, I would argue with this assertion and instead suggest that almost all workers (there will always be those who just want to turn up, do their job and go home again), regardless of their background or demographic, benefit from work that is engaging, adds quantifiable value, presents a challenge and also provides space for them to grow and develop in a variety of ways. Both articles talk about the importance of employers making themselves more attractive to potential hires by promoting training and development.
Another statistic that shocked me was the amount of money that has been left unspent by larger employers who pay the Apprenticeship Levy. £400 million is a lot of money to go unspent, especially when it is specifically set aside for staff training and development. I can be pretty confident in saying that there must be technology sector organisations included in the list of companies who have not spent their own levy funds on training and development of their staff.
My feel is that while immigration figures will probably recover once the government communicates a clear policy, wouldn't it be great if companies took this opportunity to make real improvements to their own development strategies? They could then stand out from the competition, naturally attracting the best and brightest of the home grown talent we already have here in the UK.
We at the Recruitment Geeks understand that recruitment is not a separate function to the rest of your business. We're not just another recruitment agency, but instead enjoy working with companies where we can help them to improve their candidate attraction strategies. Staff development plays a massive part in this, so if you're a hiring manager who's struggling to attract the right candidates, we can definitely help find them for you, but not only that, we can suggest solutions that will help you to maintain a healthy pipeline of talent that is keen to join your business in the longer term.
If you'd like to talk about the issues affecting your business, give us a call and we'll be happy to help.
Mark works closely with Neil to oversee the Science & Technology Team. Having previously worked as a teacher before entering the world of recruitment, Mark has a great knowledge of the STEM sector and is passionate about identifying talent that can help drive the industry forward.