With businesses crying out for good candidates for vacant positions, how is there a mismatch between the jobs market and the labour force? MD and founder of HR180, Claire Morley-Jones tackles the problem head on – and provides a 7 point plan to change hearts and minds in the jobs market.
By Claire Morley-Jones
Once upon a time I was young, at school and starting my A Levels (bear with me I know this was in the age of the dinosaurs!) My parents had worked their socks off their entire lives to ensure that I would be the first child in the family to go to University and I was determined I would get there!
Back in 1997, the thought of the day was that every child should go to University in order to increase skills in the labour market and ensure an ambitious and successful economy. Tony Blair was adamant that better qualified young people would get better, higher skilled jobs, earn more money, pay more tax and boost the economy and so he set about making it a reality. Whereas in 1950 3% of the population went to University, over the years this has increased to almost half the eligible population. And yet, the premise behind this blog is, where has this left us?
Universities are failing to apply practical lessons to their courses. Someone on an HR degree for example, comes out with a piece of paper testifying to their ability to understand a significant amount of theory but with no actual practical application to the jobs they will ultimately hold. They will still need full training on how to deliver an investigation or prepare a Contract of Employment.
Careers services are failing to prepare young people for interviews to give them the best chance at success. For example, answers to questions we’ve heard range from “Q – What’s the biggest decision you’ve had to make”, “A – Well, every weekend when I go clubbing I guess. Its really hard to decide what to wear” to “Q – What did you last do to resolve a conflict with a colleague”, “A – It was sorted when we both got dismissed”. I promise I am not kidding!
In my opinion, it has left us with a generation of graduates who are disenfranchised with the world of work they have now discovered – the reality has not lived up to the hype. After expecting a salary of £30k+, they are shocked to discover that they start their working life with more debt than they could ever have imagined, on a job paying national minimum wage in a field that they saw more as a ‘stop gap’ whilst studying, rather than a serious career choice. Now, this too was my experience. However, I had hard working parents from the ‘traditional parenting’ school who told me to knuckle down and get on with it (which I did, thus ultimately creating the amazing beast that is HR180). But tough parenting is few and far between these days!
It’s also my recent experiences with recruitment that leaves me worried about the future success of the country.
We have jobs, lots of them! Many of our clients are growing and creating new vacancies and positions – but filling them if they are under a certain level or in a certain industry is inordinately difficult. This group of graduates has been failed by their schools, universities, careers advisers and ultimately parents (who were also conned).
HR180 regularly receives feedback direct from the market – from both sides of the fence – and this sees us uniquely placed to offer some comment. When we are recruiting coffee shop assistants, carers, administrators, waiters and pot washers we have fewer UK applicants than from those outside the UK. The feedback they give us in their telephone interviews is, “its hard work, unsociable hours or too low,” for them to really want the job as a long term prospect.
With Pret a Manger, Malmaison, Hotel Du Vin and the farming industry stating that they are concerned they will not be able to run their businesses without migrants, we need to change the hearts and minds of our young people to see the opportunities waiting for them in vocational training, entry level positions and hard work.
So rather than moaning what can we do? To change hearts and minds I believe we need a plan – here are some ideas:
1 Don’t leave it to big business! SMEs need to work with the educational establishment to create practical, worthwhile education that prepares our young people for the careers they will have.
2 Screen candidates using contextualised recruitment to ensure that you get the very best candidates – all are not equal. (See my previous blog).
3 Hold a family event at your work – invite everyone’s parents, family or friends to understand what you do – once they know they can be an advocate and help fight your corner!
4 Ensure our Young People are given opportunities to be entrepreneurial. Immigrants are almost twice as likely as native Brits to start a business and directly create more jobs. You can help our Young People by offering to judge a Young Enterprise competition or volunteer to speak at your local University – they are crying out for this.
5 As parents and employers stop obsessing on having a degree and focus back on education. Germany has 31% of its young people with a degree (compared with our 54%) and yet they are significantly better educated, more productive and more highly skilled than us!
6 Remember that not everyone can win! Some things are and should be about elitism – in the way that the Olympic Games only sees the very best compete and eventually win, perhaps only our very best and brightest should get the opportunity to go to University (I’d like to caveat that by saying the best and brightest from ALL walks of life).
7 Assign a mentor to every new starter – someone to help, support and listen.
Together, we can get back on track! We will take the time with you to help you create meaningful talent plans including Talent Q testing and strategy planning. Call us for a free assessment of your needs. See below for contact details.
Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.