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14th Aug, 2023

Craig Lewis
Craig Lewis
Job Title
Senior Content Writer

Every business and organisation needs to accept and embrace the challenge provided by skills gaps in the UK workforce. 

That’s the view of Head of Volume Recruitment at BT Group, Matt Howe. 

Speaking at RecFest in July 2023, the world’s largest talent acquisition festival, Matt said: “We find it relatively straightforward to get lots of people to press apply, but the skills and capabilities of those people is often very varied.” 

Matt was part of a Reed Talent Solutions panel of experts who discussed, ‘The Great Unlocking: harnessing the hidden workforce’, on the RecFest Inspire Stage. 

Hosted by Reed Talent Solutions Managing Director, Lee Gudgeon, and featuring Solutions Director, Louise Reed, and the CEO and Founder of 55/Redefined, Lyndsey Simpson, the discussion was based on the results of two extensive surveys. 

Carried out by Reed Talent Solutions, the first survey was of 1,000 hiring managers, while the second was of 1,000 unemployed adults either actively looking for work, or not actively looking for work - but not unemployed due to ill health. 

Key findings included that almost 80% of hiring managers believe there is a significant gap between the skills held by their workforce and those needed to meet their business goals, that a quarter of unemployed adults (27%) feel they do not have the right skills to enter the workplace, and that 91% of unemployed people actively looking for work said they were very much or somewhat struggling to find a job. 

The surveys also found 73% of hiring managers believe their business is currently finding it more challenging to recruit now compared to previous years, while 77% said it was either very or somewhat likely that a lack of access to workers equipped with the skill sets they need will restrict growth within their businesses in the next three years. 

Matt said businesses are having do a lot of work to address the issue of skills gaps: “This is a growing challenge and will be something every company needs to get its head around,” he said. 

“We’re at varying degrees of the journey on it and some people are doing it well in certain areas and not so well in others.” 

Matt said part of the goal for businesses is to make the recruitment process as inclusive as possible and to increase the amount of reskilling they do. He said one great example is younger people doing apprenticeships being provided with skilling prior to being assessed. 

“We’re now trialling - with Reed Talent Solutions - that same thing with an older demographic, and we’re going to trial it for all sorts of different demographics,” he said. 

“As long as your recruitment process is inclusive, the next thing is you’ve got to break down someone’s barrier to entry. 

“Quite often what we’re finding is a barrier around existing skills or somebody’s confidence. “A form of reskilling, whatever form that takes, is often a very good solution.”   

Reed Talent Solutions’ new survey report, ‘The Great Unlocking, harnessing the hidden workforce’ examines whether current workforces have the skills to achieve their goals, how hard they are finding it to recruit fresh talent and how our recruit, train, deploy solution can help – download it here

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