Tag: skills gap

Apprenticeships are boosting retention for firms across the UK 

According to a new report, apprenticeships are improving employability and pay for employees, whilst boosting revenue and diversity for businesses. 

Multiverse’s 2023 report on the impact of apprentices on business and individuals, reveals an overwhelming retention rate for apprentices, with 93% remaining at the same company after their scheme.  

Research reveals that six in ten of apprentices starting out in their careers are from Black, Asian or multiple ethnicity backgrounds, compared to universities where more than seven in ten students are white.  

 A staggering 96%, of Multiverse’s early career apprentices, have stayed in work or training after their apprenticeship and employability exceeds those of graduates, with graduate employment at just 87% last year. 

  The data finds that the work of apprentices has directly resulted in more than £550m in cost-saving or revenue-generating activities for businesses across the country working with the apprenticeship provider. 

This comes as the average apprentice now outearns university graduates with prestigious law degrees by more than £5,000. The analysis finds that the average Multiverse apprentice now earns between £26,000 and £30,000 a year. By comparison, 15 months after leaving university, law graduates earn an average of £21,500 according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). The average Multiverse apprentice also outearns graduates with a host of other degrees, including architecture (£25,000), business and management (£24,000), and psychology (£21,500).  

Euan Blair, CEO of Multiverse, said:  “Our ambition is to create a diverse group of future leaders who can support businesses to succeed in an environment where tech, digital, and data skills are at a premium. What’s clear is that apprenticeships are going from strength to strength as a truly outstanding alternative to university, with apprentices providing immense value to businesses. Our programmes are giving firms the opportunity to boost revenue, productivity, diversity, and fill essential skills gaps that will meet their needs today and in the future.We’ll keep expanding these high-quality opportunities to work, learn, and earn – and it’s our ambition to develop high-potential talent with the skills they need across every corner of the country.” 

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Athena Academy provides an alternative path into the tech world

Sparta Global recently announced the launch of Sparta’s Athena Academy. The Academy is an all-women technology training and careers stream.

Sparta was founded in 2014 to help close the UK’s digital skills gap. Despite its growth, the company still feels that contributing to gender parity across the wider technology ecosystem is important.

The government-funded growth network Tech Nation recently revealed that nearly three million people, or 9% of the UK workforce, work in the UK tech industry, but only 26% of these are women.

The Athena Academy will provide women of all experience levels with an alternative path into technology:

  • 12 weeks of focussed Java development training
  • Learning alongside an all-women cohort
  • Training delivered by an in-house, all-women training faculty
  • A salary paid throughout the training
  • The opportunity to work for an established Sparta Global client in their first tech role

David Rai, Sparta Global CEO, commented: “While we have thousands of fantastic women Spartans and alumni who have come through the Sparta Global Academy, we know there are some who see training and working in a male-dominated industry as too daunting to explore,” says “Sparta’s Athena Academy is about empowering more women through technology, giving them the opportunity to learn alongside female peers and inspiring role models in a supportive and safe space that will push the limits of their potential.

The UK technology industry needs women to meet the needs of society and it is our hope that our Athena Academy will give more women the opportunity to positively impact our clients with fresh thinking, diverse perspectives, and passions.”


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81% of HR professionals believe having a degree positions for success

According to US publishing house John Wiley and Sons, the skills gap in the US appears to be getting worse, not better.

Its “Closing the Skills Gap” report found that 69% of US human resources professionals surveyed said their organization has a skills gap. That is up from 55% in a similar survey in 2021.

Todd Zipper, Executive Vice President at Wiley said: “This widening of the skills gap is concerning and not likely to end soon,” said. “The demand for skills keeps evolving faster, and it’s increasingly hard for companies and higher education institutions to keep up, particularly when it comes to soft skills.”

Lingering effects of the Great Resignation may exacerbate the skills gap, as more than 40% of respondents said it takes more time than before to find suitable job candidates. A nearly equal percentage said they must offer higher pay and additional benefits.

Training may be one way to reduce the skills gap, and some firms reimburse employees’ tuition costs for training or partner with colleges or technical schools. The proportion of respondents who said more than 5% of their workforce used tuition assistance rose from 61% in 2021 to 69% in 2022.

Wiley’s report also suggests alternate credentials are gaining on the college degree as a way to validate job skills. While 81% of respondents believe earning a bachelor’s degree positions an individual for success, 62% place less value on whether applicants graduated from college, with most saying they would interview non-graduates who have five years of relevant work experience, certificates from colleges or universities, and digital badges or micro-credentials.

Wiley surveyed 600 US human resources professionals for the report.

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Inflation is at a 40-year high at 9.1%

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that the UK’s unemployment and economic inactivity rates have decreased from March to May 2022 and is exacerbating the already critical talent shortages. In response, AMS (formerly Alexander Mann Solutions) has urged businesses to place more emphasis on internal hiring strategies.

The ONS data also revealed that, when adjusted for inflation, total pay fell by 0.9% and regular pay fell by 2.8% in the three months to May, which is certainly cause for concern given that CPI inflation hit a 40-year record of 9.1% in May and is expected to reach as high as 11% later this year.

Steve Leach, Managing Director, UK & Ireland, at AMS commented: “With unemployment and economic inactivity rates on the decline, it’s inevitable that the skills gap will continue to widen. Rather concerningly, the ONS statistics also reveal that wages are dropping when adjusted for inflation. With firms seemingly no longer using financial incentives to attract and retain talent, greater reliance on other skills strategies will be needed.”

“In my opinion, a lot of firms are overlooking a significantly valuable source of skills: their current talent. Identifying where internal mobility opportunities lie provides an opportunity for individuals to progress their career and move into higher salary brackets, which will not only help with filling the skills gap but also aid staff retention rates, particularly during the cost-of-living crisis.”

“As many talent acquisition leaders know all too well, there is no quick fix for the UK’s skills shortage, but opening positions up internally as well as implementing upskilling or reskilling programmes for current staff will really benefit businesses as well as the economy as a whole. A lack of career opportunity is regularly cited as the reason that people leave their current employer so ensuring companies are looking at their internal employee population will have a swift impact on skills deficits.”

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Employers rigid in hiring criteria despite skills gap 

Over half of employers (60%) are receiving more applications from candidates who have come from different industries new research by Reed.co.uk has revealed.  

The commissioned researched canvased over 250 hiring decision-makers across the UK and reflected an increasing awareness of transferable skills with an appetite for reskilling among jobseekers. The news comes after Reed.co.uk reported 140,000 courses were purchased in the first half of November – a 786% rise year-on-year – as workers reevaluate their skillset in light of the pandemic.  

Some employers remain rigid in their requirements of applicants, despite this wider range of talent that has become available to businesses with over half (60%) of hiring decision-makers still feeling it is important for applicants to have a university education, which immediately limits the size of their candidate pool.  

Hiring managers within the Construction and Technology sectors – who report more labour shortages than those from any other industries in the survey – are also the most likely to believe a university education is important for candidates. Whereas employers in ‘real estate’ (17%) and ‘creative industries’ (33%) placed the least importance on applicants having a university education. 

Alongside a university education, the research showed that employers add much value to soft skills, such as teamwork and interpersonal skills, as a result of the shift to remote working with two-thirds (64%) of hiring decision-makers in agreement. 

While a university education and soft skills are desirable for a candidate, some employers may need to become more flexible about their expectations, especially as over half (55%) of the businesses surveyed reporting labour shortages.  

Simon Wingate, Managing Director of Reed.co.uk, commented on the findings: “It’s encouraging to see that many workers are already learning new skills to improve their career opportunities. However, employers should be more flexible when it comes to hiring, by looking at workers who haven’t got qualifications but who are willing to learn and have useful transferable skills for a modern working environment. By sticking to a rigid, old-fashioned approach to recruiting, you could be discarding talent that could help fuel your growth plans in 2022.” 

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There are encouraging signs that the recent rebound in hiring extends beyond crisis-hit sectors such as hospitality and retail, with skilled vacancies also on the rise.

According to the Recruitment & Employment Confederation’s latest Jobs Recovery Tracker, postings for jobs in hospitality and leisure have started to level off, but adverts for professional and skilled occupations rose at the end of June.

In particular, demand was high for education staff, likely due to seasonal fluctuations within the sector. In the week of 21-27, there was a 13.6% rise in adverts for teaching and other education professionals and a 6.3% rise in demand for school secretaries.

The occupation that saw the highest weekly increase in job postings was market research interviewers, with demand up 15.7%.

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, welcomed the positive data, but warned there was a need for a plan that “reforms the skills system”.

“Sustained momentum in our jobs market is great news, but vacancies and unemployment don’t just resolve themselves – it takes support to help people find their new role. Rising job adverts for roles that require key skills to get hired – from IT to haulage – highlight the ongoing need to put the skills and job search support people need in place.

“Tackling this mismatch, in the context of a tightening labour market, should be a priority for government and businesses, working together. We need to act now to make sure we do the right thing for jobseekers and our economy.”

Critical roles unfilled

His view was echoed by a report published last week by the Professional & Business Services Council and the Financial Services Skills Commission.

Research for its report, entitled Skills for future success, found that almost one-third of employers in the sector reported skills shortages that resulted in vacancies, with thousands of critical roles in areas such as data and technology going unfilled.

This was leading to increased workloads for staff, higher operating costs and firms struggling to innovate or meet quality standards.

The report said the pandemic had exacerbated trends already in play, with factors such as automation, digitisation, globalisation and changing workforce demographics meaning the skills gap was widening.

Another key finding was that regional employers often struggled to find the talent they needed and the report’s action plan made several recommendations aimed at improving skills across all of the regions.

It suggested that addressing the skills gap within the sector could boost its yearly output by 12%, equivalent to an annual rise of £38bn by 2038.

Mark Hoban, Chair of the Financial Services Skills Commission, said: “Urgent action is needed to build an enduring skills culture across the UK and build a sustainable pipeline of high-level skills. Not only is this vital to delivering on the government’s aims on levelling-up, doing so is essential to developing the digital expertise we need to drive forward industry’s priorities such as improved customer outcomes, realising the full benefits of investment in digitisation and fostering far greater diversity and inclusion in our industry.”

Diversity play

While not in the same industry, a unique virtual work experience programme launched last week by National Grid and HR tech firm MyKindaFuture aims to do just that.

The week-long initiative, available to Year 12 and 13 students in South London, has been designed to give students insight into the energy sector, which needs to fill 400,000 roles by 2050 if the UK is to reach its net zero target.

One of the key goals is to encourage students from diverse backgrounds to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Will Akerman, Founder and Managing Director at MyKindaFuture, said: “Covid-19 has caused uncertainty for everyone, but those from disadvantaged backgrounds have been the hardest hit, and it is time to give back to them. Gaps in social mobility have grown and school closures have led to far greater inequalities in accessing education resources than we have ever seen. By being virtual we are able to get to these underserved communities and help those that need it the most.”

Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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Organisations must enhance their employer brand and candidate experience in order to address the skills gap according to talent management specialists a&dc.

In response to the latest report of global skills shortage a&dc claims that this perception is, in part, down to inefficient attraction and recruitment strategies. Amidst calls to gear recruitment to international candidates, the talent management experts have outlined two key methods to address this issue:

  • Development of stronger employer branding messages that are geared to niche markets
  • An efficient recruitment process that assesses the intangible as well as the tangible and leaves all applicants with a positive view of the business.

Pip Clarke, Business Development Director at a&dc, commented, “The idea that organisations are facing a skills shortage has long been batted about the HR and business community, but there has been little agreement as to how this can be addressed. We are quite simply operating in a different business environment post-recession and the way we access talent must, as a result, adapt. Candidates are much more aware of the options available to them and as confidence in the market increases, they will understandably be harder to attract. However, by developing a strong, tailored employer of choice message, businesses can engage with the best talent.”

Using the right tools is also a must, as Clarke explains, “While the more technical skills of a role can be developed in an individual, there are numerous intangible elements that should play a key part in the assessment process. Often, when we drill down into the real skills gaps in recruitment processes, the key missing ingredient is the behaviour or cultural fit. Resourcing decision makers and line managers need to recognise that the right person for the role doesn’t have to fit all the technical boxes in many cases. With the right attitude, flexibility and ability to learn, an individual can add so much more to the business.”


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