Will recruiters be forced to fill in skills gaps?

Will recruiters be forced to fill in skills gaps?

As if UK PLC hasn’t suffered enough over the last two years, recent feedback from a number of employers appears to have highlighted another unwanted fallout from the pandemic.

We are all aware of the effect the crisis has had on those in education; however, after two years of disruption, which included months of home-schooling, young people leaving education appear to be not just lacking academic skills in many cases, but social skills, too.

For casual and temporary work across many sectors, particularly in leisure and hospitality, employers need young workers, but they’ve been the first to admit that the next generation has been woefully affected by the crisis.

According to news reports, young people are also ‘riddled with anxieties’, a scenario that has been exacerbated by the isolation forced upon them. Not being able to mix with role models or peers outside the home has prevented many young people from observing socially acceptable cues and recognising good customer service from bad.

Having left their academic life, it’s no longer the responsibility of educators to mould these youngsters for the world of work. Parents, even if they’re aware that their offspring may need communicative, technical, social or soft skills that are required in the workplace, may be unequipped to provide their children with the exact support they require.

However, employers are struggling to train these youngsters, with challenges coming from all sides. Not only are businesses trying to stay afloat in this economy whilst adhering to government restrictions, they’re combatting other staffing issues, such as older/more experienced employees off sick with Covid.

A pub landlady from Lichfield describes her experience, which is being played out in many other businesses at the moment. Leanne Giblin of The Angel admits that she’s ‘worried about the future’. She says, ‘We have had a few staff members who have turned 18 recently and were deprived of their schooling because of Covid, and they really lack in social skills. They are all lovely, and normally fine if they are dealing with staff and customers their own age, but the problems start when they have to deal with anyone older. They go to pieces, which is a problem in the pub trade or retail where you have to speak to anyone and everyone. Their social skills are so underdeveloped, but it is understandable because they never finished their education and have spent a lot of time on their own.

‘It’s not just me who’s complaining, this is a big problem which needs to be addressed across all types of businesses. As I say, they are lovely kids, but no other generation has lost such important formative experiences as they have. They have been isolated for nearly two years, missing out on the experiences in which they would find out who they are. But as an employer, we are struggling to get quality staff. We always used to get students who returned from university to glass collect or work on the bar but this Christmas we've been told parents have been paying them not to work because they were scared of them coming (i.e. mixing with others in the workplace).’

Given that we don’t know how long the pandemic will last nor how many more young people will be disadvantaged in this way, what should we do about this issue to minimise future damage to certain sectors and the economy as a whole?

As the middle-man between candidate and employer, should recruiters fill in the gaps for their young charges? In an already challenging job market, do they have the time to ensure those leaving education are ready for the workplace?

Employability training is likely to be in demand for years to come, as the pandemic continues to impact the suitability of young people for the workplaces of 2022 onwards. Some recruitment agencies already offer such training courses, and the government’s Kickstarter Scheme also aims to address this issue.

As a company that specialises in recruitment website design, you may think that any young people working for us would only need technical skills to progress. However, as with most sectors, the practical element only makes up a portion of the role. Being able to solve problems independently, interpreting clients’ briefs and asking for help if needed are just some of the things young people can struggle with when transitioning from the safe bubble of education to working amongst people of all ages in an adult workspace.

The best training is done in situ and in real time; however, employers are up against it at the moment. They need intermediary candidates, i.e. someone who can hit the ground running when hired, because they haven’t got the time to train people—but how can young people become intermediaries if no one can afford the time needed to expand their skills base?

It’s certainly a dilemma, and one that’s not easily solved.

In need of a redesign of your agency’s website? Call us for a friendly chat on 01302 288591.

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