On 16 November, TALiNT Partners hosted the 2023 Talent Summit in partnership with ManpowerGroup Talent Solutions RPO, Adzuna, Creed Comms, Unifrog, Reed Talent Solutions, Stratigens and Talent Sandbox. Fifty talent acquisition leaders gathered at The King’s Fund in London where keynote speakers, talent solutions experts and thought leaders shared insights that promised to ignite organisations’ talent strategies for 2024.
Across two panel discussions, round table discussions and short workshops, attendees were given the opportunity to gain an understanding of past trends, anticipate future shifts and identify the skills the workforce needs in 2024 and beyond.
Hosted by Declan Slattery, Head of the TALiNT Partners Employer Programme and Chair of the Global Advisory Board, along with Debra Sparshott, TALiNT Partners’ Head of Research and Insights, the Talent Summit 2023 was a resounding success.
Talent scarcity in core skillsets is forcing organisations to better understand alternative talent pools and how to reach them. To kick off the first panel discussion, we asked what strategies TA leaders can implement to bridge the talent gap.
The facilitated panels questioned TA leaders on navigating a different candidate market. The panel talked to the evolving skill sets in TA, urging professionals to be more data-savvy and rigorous in candidate conversion.
Talent scarcity in core skill sets has become a pressing challenge for organisations, prompting Talent Acquisition (TA) leaders to explore alternative talent pools. Jane Farquharson, VP Global Integrated Resourcing at Shell, introduced a strategic framework in what she calls the “Four Cs” to address this challenge:
Clarity: Collaborating with businesses to determine required skills and market needs.
Creativity: Tapping into markets with innovative strategies, such as targeting India for software engineering scarcity.
Candidate: Breaking through industry mindsets and leveraging contingent workforce as a valuable talent source.
Collaboration: Developing new talent strategies in collaboration with other parts of the business.
When asked how they’re navigating a very different candidate market, Jane said: “Sourcing talent doesn’t have to fall within the TA team and we rely heavily on other parts of the business as well as external partners. We’re not in it alone. We’re seeing key shifts in TA and that is the focus on skill sets, data and insights. People in TA have to be more data savvy. What’s also important is rigour and follow through – we have to convert candidates into hires.”
Focusing on fundamentals and leadership collaboration
The question about what TA leaders are seeing in the market in terms getting to these alternative talent pools was also asked. Tom Baker, Head of Talent & Resourcing at M&G highlighted the importance of structural and geographical considerations, innovation in understanding where Talent resides through Talent Intelligence, and collaboration with their Talent leaders in weekly meetings to identify and fast-track skills.
Tom went on: “…additionally early careers are so important. If the skills aren’t there you need to ask yourself how you are going to develop them. Consider the economics/debt burden of degrees now and near future; it points to Apprenticeship programmes becoming as important as traditional graduate programmes. We all need to be far nimbler in adapting to changing skills requirements internally.
“Don’t ignore the fundamentals such as EVP and Employer Brand and asking people how they want to work and what they expect from their employers; and employers from them. Listening to what a changing demographic of candidates want, things like flexibility, workplace care solutions and the like. Clearly keeping/re-engaging the over 50s into the workplace is going to be key and thus supporting the mature workforce to return to work in a flexible manner, with appropriate benefits to them could re-engage key skills into the workforce in a different way.”
Louise Reed, Solutions Director at Reed Talent Solutions, shared insights into future talent needs and talked to the importance of skills mapping, upskilling, and implementing people and data-led programmes. She also addressed the skills gap in elementary roles through targeted training plans.
Neil Kelly, Founder at Talent Sandbox, said that the rapid evolution in TA is a shift from traditional recruiters to becoming subject matter experts in talent. This means that tackling the skills gap is not just an issue for your wider business. This starts with Talent Acquisition professionals and the need to prioritise their skills development.”
Engaging the youth employment market
Andy McMullan, Employer Partnerships Manager at Unifrog, winners of the Recruitment Marketing Campaign of the Year at the TIARA Talent Tech Star Awards earlier this year, discussed strategies for engaging with the youth employment market.
Mindset shift: People vs. technology
The conversation delved into the critical mindset shift around hiring, stating that talent managers should reframe the definition of talent. It’s not merely about filling vacancies but creating opportunities, challenging leaders to think beyond the obvious.
Tom Baker reiterated the need to break away from hiring in one’s image, anticipating future skills emerging from apprenticeships and alternate talent pools. Louise Reed talked about the importance of reaching non-traditional candidates through human-centric approaches, especially economically inactive groups.
Neil Kelly focused on unlocking productivity through technology, highlighting the connection between personal growth and collective performance. Andy McMullan emphasised the benefits of bringing in younger people and showcasing their skills without extensive training plans.
The panel discussion offered profound insights into bridging the talent gap, navigating a changing candidate market, and strategically tapping into alternative talent pools. The consensus was this: The importance of a holistic approach, combining innovative strategies, collaboration, and a human-centric mindset to effectively address the challenges posed by talent scarcity.
Shaping talent acquisition strategies for 2024 – Key priorities for TA leaders
As TA leaders navigate the evolving landscape and look ahead to 2024, the second panel discussion at the Summit, provided valuable insights into key priorities and strategic considerations.
Internal dialogue and technological transformation
Mark Coad, Head of Talent Acquisition at GSK, with focus on the internal dialogue about the future workforce. Mark spoke to the importance of a top-down directive regarding AI and technology. While acknowledging the experimentation with AI, he underscored the need for technology integration, ensuring that all tech components collaborate effectively. Mark highlighted the challenge of excessive demand and attrition, prompting a shift towards differentiation and adding value to the business through talent strategies. He emphasized using data and mapping to provide the business with contextual insights into hiring, touching on the dilemma of building vs. buying a tech stack and the complexities of retraining or hiring new talent.
However, he anticipated increased engagement with CEOs and TA teams once interest rates become less of a risk. Ken highlighted the significance of money and flexibility in attracting candidates and provided a pragmatic view on AI adoption, stressing the need for tactical deployment to enhance existing processes. He said: “It will take another 4 or 5 years for AI to take off simply because organisations just don’t move that fast. There are still concerns around the algorithms and safety around AI and that’s why big organisations won’t go near it for some time. Over the next few years, though, you need to look at how you deploy AI tactically to help you do the things you’re doing now a bit faster, better and cheaper.”
He predicted a gradual improvement in the talent landscape by 2024, while emphasising the importance of tactical savviness and a focus on the candidate experience.
Retention and reskilling: a paradigm shift
David Archer, RPO Director at ManpowerGroup Talent Solutions, shed light on the changing expectations of Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) providers. He said, “Filling roles remains crucial and retention has become a core service. We’re increasingly talking to clients about retention and the basis of a good recruitment strategy is being able to keep existing talent.
David predicts that the next trend is going to be the identifying skills needed in the business and the upskilling or reskilling of existing employees to fuel strategic growth.
He said, “Retention is a significant challenge, with a scarcity of organisations excelling in this aspect. It’s so important to leverage technology for a good candidate journey, advocating for insight-driven decision-making over mere data analysis.”
The role of data in decision-making
Alison Ettridge, CEO at Strategins, discussed the role of data in organisational decision-making. Alison presented data as a “crystal ball” that can predict workforce trends and flight risks. She emphasised the use of Talent Intelligence (TI) and urged organisations to prioritise its adoption, highlighting the risk of missing out on scarce talent if not utilised. Addressing concerns about resistance to change, Alison advocated for telling a compelling story with data, making decision-makers part of the narrative, and proactively using available information for strategic workforce planning in 2024.
Employer branding and strategic differentiation
Dave Walstow, Associate Director at Creed Comms, emphasised the importance of understanding audiences and defining Employer Value Propositions (EVPs). He highlighted the need to scrutinize data when facing budget constraints, emphasising that effective employer branding and EVPs are strategic differentiators. Dave urged organizations to evaluate and define their EVPs, ensuring they are aspirational, authentic, and differentiated from the competition.
To complete the day’s activity, Declan Slattery led the delegates through an exercise designed to help TA Leaders prioritise their strategic objectives for 2024. It soon became clear that these objectives are numerous and complex. The exercise, leveraging the insights shared throughout the day, underscored how the role of TA has expanded, requiring agility and innovation to respond to the multiple challenges they face.
And to finally close the event, Declan took the opportunity to thank the delegates for all the hard work they do and reminded them that at the end of all their processes and delivery, there’s an individual candidate whose life is changed for the better by the opportunities they create. When you think of the impact TA has on the world of work, TA truly is shaping the world we live in – one job at a time, which just goes to show the power and influence of our community, and that really is something to celebrate.
In conclusion, the discussions during the day illuminated key priorities for TA leaders, ranging from internal dialogue and technological integration to the strategic use of data, retention efforts, and the crucial role of employer branding. As organisations gear up for the challenges of 2024, these insights serve as a guide for crafting effective talent acquisition strategies in a dynamic and competitive landscape.
TALiNT Partners hosts regular events for their network of Talent Acquisition leaders. To join the conversation and register for 2024 events, please click here.