The country has just marked National Careers Week – a week-long celebration of careers guidance and resources across the UK.
It aims to help support people, particularly young people, in developing their awareness of, and excitement around, their future working life. But it’s also a great opportunity for businesses, including those across Yorkshire, to reflect on what they can do to build environments that will encourage and nurture that next generation of talent.
Creating workplaces that are attractive to and supportive of new recruits has never been more important.
We face widespread skills shortages – something that firms across Yorkshire will have experience of first hand. A paper, published last year, by officers at West Yorkshire Combined Authority described such skills gaps in the region as “endemic”.
More broadly, it’s an imperative for supporting our long-term growth and competitiveness.
We need to be encouraging new perspectives and new ideas into our businesses so we can continue to create the products and deliver the services that are the hallmark and strength of our region’s economy.
The solution to these challenges can’t just be recruiting experienced employees.
Ultimately, we need to be investing in, training and upskilling those at the beginning of their careers too.
Paths to success
The big question is, “How?”
There is certainly no catch-all solution. But there have been a few things that we’ve found successful in our business.
One step has been offering apprenticeships.
A strength of these is the ability for participants to gain first-hand experience of a business environment, while simultaneously able to work towards formal qualifications.
It provides a pathway for those who might not want, or might not be able to, pursue other avenues towards these kinds of qualifications – including the chance to earn while they learn. And, from an employer’s perspective, it’s a great way to help develop and build the skills they’ll need in their workforces of the future.
At Parseq, we’ve certainly seen the benefits for all involved. Our apprentices have flourished, in roles across business, from our finance team to our marketing and commercial departments.
Train, train, train
But to attract, and crucially, retain the skills they need for success, businesses also need to demonstrate that there are wider opportunities within their organisations for professional development.
This means taking the opportunity to review their own internal learning and development (L&D) programmes – the very structures providing training to employees, from entry level up, within their own organisation.
Having a robust L&D offering can be a true differentiator in the jobs market.
It can be a re-assuring factor to new talent who might perceive skill mismatches between their own abilities and a job’s requirements, and who might otherwise discount themselves from considering it an opportunity.
And from a business’ perspective, it’s a chance to directly, and proactively, address the unique pattern of skills challenges that they may face internally, and to stay abreast of them by being able to continuously evolve their L&D offering as their own skills profile changes.
This contributes to strong workforces. But it also empowers professional development – helping fulfil the full potential of every team member.
And, with the right ongoing support, it can directly support retention. At Parseq, we’ve invested £440,000 in our L&D initiatives over the past five years, and are proud to have an average length of service of ten years.
Yorkshire is packed with talent; it always has been. As a business community, we have a critical role to play in giving this an opportunity to take root and thrive – and thrive together, with it.
Article by Craig Naylor-Smith originally published in the Yorkshire Post