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Solving the job vacancy conundrum: Why businesses must tap into emerging talent now

by maria

By: Geoff Smith, CEO, Grayce

Looking at the latest labour market figures released by the ONS earlier this month, one would be forgiven for thinking that the prospects are looking much brighter for young job seekers. On the face of it, there has been arise inemployment among 18–24-year-olds, with the rate increasing to 62.4%during the last three months of2021.

But these figures mask the reality facing many employers looking to hire today, who simply can’t fill their open vacancies. In fact, vacancies are at a record high, at nearly 1.3million, and the overall workforce issmaller than it was pre-pandemic, with 420,000 fewer people employed than in January to March 2020. According to a survey from the Learning & Work Institute, under half (48%) of UK employers believe that young people leave full-time education with sufficient advanced digital skills, pointing to a fundamental disconnect between our country’s education system and the needs of British businesses today.

This impending skills crisis means employers are facing strong competition for a smaller pool of talent, and the pinch points aren’t showing any signs of abating.In its long-awaitedLevelling Up whitepaper published earlier this month, the Government pledged to tackle the growing skills shortage with better access to high-quality training by 2030. But businesses need access to talent now if they’re to remain competitive in the digital age.

At the same time, we see great swathes of graduates– with a huge propensity to learn –leaving university that may be taking roles that are under-utilising their skillsets. According to figures released by the ONSlast year, over a quarter (25.5%) of graduates who are employed are in unskilled or low-skilled roles.These stats are shocking and present a dark cloud for the thousands of career-hungry young people currently in higher education. After paying tens of thousands for their degrees, these talented individuals rightfully deserve the high-skilled, well-paid graduate jobs they have studied for.

Digital transformation requires digital, diverse talent

The pandemic showed us that the businesses who pivoted to online ways of working were the ones to ride outthe storm and come out the other side. But how can organisations be expected to digitally transform themselves if they’re being led by a bunch of like-minded, middle-aged, white men sat round the table? We need diversity of thought if we are to drive genuine change in business.

Working together, older generations – that have deep industry knowledge and broad commercial awareness – and digitally-native Gen Z workers are a powerful, transformative combination that can drive real change. If we look at recent graduates – who grew up with technologyat their fingertipsand are used to running to a finite budget during their student days – they are pre-conditioned to use funds wisely and think creatively about how to tackle problems.

These curiously minded individuals – passionate about making a mark in the workplace –are the driving force behind large-scale digital transformation projects at many of our clients’ businesses. Having an attitude of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t get organisations anywhere. Individuals who ask the right questions and challenge old ways of thinking can help their employers drive huge efficiencies through investment in the latest technologies that longstanding employees might not be familiar with.

Realising the potential of one of most untapped sources of talent in the UK

The digital workforce is nothing short of vital if we’re to see continued economic recovery in the current climate, and organisations that tap into this digitally minded resource now are more likely to survive.

The key to getting this right is to strike a balance between developing young professionals’ technical skills and the softer social skills required to ask questions and challenge the status quo. In the knowledge economy, skills like communication, curiosity and collaboration are more important to nurture than technical skills. Especially as the in-demand technical skills change all the time, having a half-life of just two and a half years. Those that are committed to continuous learning and development have a better chance of remaining employable, both for now and in the future, but also helping their organisations get ahead of the competition by introducing the latest technologies.

As digital services and technologies evolve, businesses need to hirebright young mindswho are willing and ready to adapt their skillset. Harnessing this talent will beabsolutely vital if they’re to maintain the furious pace of digital changeand if we’re to retain our position as a leading tech nation.

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