The unseen Covid-19 dilemma

Jul 27, 2020 | Sector & policy

Content provided by: MyKindaFuture

However tough Covid-19 is, we can and must plan for the long term.

In the very near future we could see a further crippling impact on UK businesses. The combination of an ageing workforce, the frustrating, ever-present skills gap, and Brexit could cause a perfect storm.

Historically, early careers feed the talent pipeline across many industries, and it’s one of the key reasons for an early talent strategy. With recruitment on pause for many firms, we could see an even bigger skills gap emerge. With 32% of the workforce over 50, and Brexit reducing the opportunities for migrant workers, businesses could face a significant loss of expertise, and no one available to fill the gap.

Act now

One thing I saw during the last recession in 2008 (and the one before that!) was that a few years later, businesses were asking where the talent had gone! With a significant decline in hiring and engagement with educators, the brand damage and weaker relationships took some years to re-build. What we can do now is learn from that, and not repeat the mistake twice.

Navigating a skills gap

Businesses must find smart ways to continue to develop and strengthen relationships with education, to navigate the potential impact.

Since the start of the pandemic, 40% of employers have said they are either uncertain or have decided to cancel their work experience next year. As a result, The Sutton Trust has predicted that social mobility progress/the attainment gap, will be reversed by 10 years. This is a staggering setback for those less privileged in society whom the virus is already affecting disproportionately. What businesses can do now is pivot to virtual offerings to those in education to ensure students aren’t missing out.

MKF recently hosted a webinar with two school career leads to get their perspective on what students need now. Offering engaging digital alternatives that are easy to access and meet the students where they are, will be key. Providing real time insight into companies, interesting resources including online challenges, and investing in their future now, will ensure that in the years ahead we don’t see a huge skills gap and disconnect with young people.

Talent pooling & the importance of the individual

With the cancellation and postponement of exams, students are already in a place of limbo. Organisations can still build their future talent pool and provide something certain to work through such as online activities, competitions, and mentorship opportunities that will develop skills and keep them engaged.

We also need to consider whether the traditional tools of talent screening and assessment are still the best fit. For example, are apprenticeships the most robust assessment for qualifications in 2020?

Certainly, it’s true to say that strength-based recruitment is on the rise, with 50% of early talent recruiters adopting this approach. Furthermore, 69% use a mix of strength and competency-based hiring strategies, as more and more employers seek to look beyond academic achievement, and focus on the whole person. Pivoting to these strategies and addressing the upcoming perfect storm will surely reward businesses when the time comes to start building back up.

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