Is it time to try a new approach to talent pooling?

Feb 14, 2023 | Opinion, Selection & assessment

An alternative approach to talent pooling could help employers find solutions to the tech skills gap, explains Dan Doherty at Cognizant.

There is a problem with the supply of roles in tech, not just the supply of talent, which is widening the skills gap.

In recent times we’ve seen the lens firmly hovered over headlines that point the finger to education, training and cost factors such as:

However, when you compare this to employers’ views on entry-level talent:

  • 81% say they would be more invested in those looking to start an entry level position without a degree
  • 87% would favour a positive work attitude over qualifications in an entry level job
  • 78% value role passion higher than those that hold a degree
  • Attitudes and soft skills are valued six times more than having a strong university degree or high A-levels

All of a sudden, this education-based pre-requisite blame game for the skills gap begins to become contradictory and weak.


What’s going wrong?

From an early careers landscape, mainstream education pre-requisites are screening out skilled and relevant talent.

Their elder siblings in experienced hiring are ignoring those with some experience and/or have unnecessary degree/experience pre-requisites.

Add this to a lack of redistribution and utilisation of applicant profiles in-house, either up or down the talent pyramid – and you’ve got yourself a seriously high volume of wastage.


An alternative approach to talent pooling

Yet there’s a tech skills gap and lack of people applying for roles? Really? Or is it time to focus on the demand side of things and review why and what level these skills need to join at?

Experienced hire tech trends in recent years have shown a 602% growth in job adverts looking for management experience and 8:1 mid-senior v entry-junior tech vacancies.

Ok, so often early careers vacancies might advertise one programme/role and 10, 20, 50 vacancies might sit beneath that. Even diluting the 8:1 with this accounted for, shouldn’t the level of entry- level junior roles be higher than mid-senior, if firms wish to go from scarecrow stance to perfecting the pyramid?

We know from LinkedIn’s report that companies are realising that skills-based hiring works: Hirers leveraging skills data to find the right match are 60% more likely to find a successful hire than those not relying on skills.

Yet we’re only hiring at mid-senior levels via this method. Why? Why are firms not hiring on scale at entry-junior level via skill-based methods? Is it because these roles and this talent pool are in effect the ‘inbetweeners’ of the working world and identifying, navigating and onboarding this talent is alien to most?

In short, yes. But also, here lies the opportunity.

This forgotten and often overlooked talent pools is largely made up of talent personas I would categorise by:

  • Certified – Attained industry qualifications externally through bootcamps or employer
  • Skilled/Trained – self-taught/bootcamp completer with industry skills not taught in universities
  • Experienced – Some role/industry experience and often referred to as a ‘second jobber’
  • Reskilled – Spent X years in different tech role(s) but reskilling through bootcamps or training
  • Work Returner – Returning to work/sector due to family raising, personal choices, career fluidity
  • Career/Industry Changer – Moving into sector after years of non-role specific experience for non-financial gain

This talent is exactly the talent your graduate and apprenticeship programme processes are rejecting. The talent, which is being ignored by experienced hire teams too.

And these personas and supply of them will only widen in variety and increase in collective volumes over the next 5-10 years as we see perhaps some of the following follow through or continue:

  • Universities will change their offerings by pivoting more into bootcamps, short-form courses and fluidity of learning methods and cyclicality
  • Continued exponential growth in the digital learning landscape online, f2f and ongoing funding at national and regional levels
  • Employer driven and trademarked curriculum growth with recognised qualifications and endorsement partnerships with institutions from university right the way back in the education system to T-levels

The skills gap seems to be a never-ending monkey on our shoulders in recruitment. Maybe it’s time we stopped blaming the supply and started findings solutions with the demand.

You may also be interested in

Changing workforce planning is key to addressing skills shortages

Skills-based hiring can improve the candidate experience

How Sanctuary Graduates helps futureproof close the tech skills gap

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