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Emerging talent recruiters struggling to adapt, says WCN

Recruiters must do more to connect with Emerging Talent, if they are to fill skills gaps opening as the older generation starts to leave the workplace, according to Charles Hipps, CEO at WCN.


Hipps was speaking at WCN’s recent interactive Emerging Talent and Graduate seminar, which took place at The Imperial War Museum, London on 21st January. He commented, “10,000 baby boomers are reported to be leaving work every day in the US, impacting the way companies conduct future business. Although millennials have been identified as the dominant workforce for 2016, organisations are still failing to fill the skills needed at entry-level. 


According to research by McKinsey&Company, by 2020 we will begin to see a global shortage of skilled labour, particularly from college or university-educated workers. This talent-crunch is set to reduce the number of university educated workers needed for the global workforce by 40 million. It is therefore crucial to work out how to attract the next top talent and keep them engaged.


Helen Alkin, graduate recruitment manager at Marks and Spencer, also speaking at the latest WCN Emerging Talent & Graduate recruitment series seminar, said, “We are witnessing an increased focus on apprenticeships. The general view of these apprentices is that they can solve the skills shortage we are experiencing, due to graduate numbers not meeting demand.


“If we take 6,060 students starting an electronics or engineering degree, by the end of year four there will only be 912 students still looking for employment. This is not a good completion rate.”


Alkin, who also discussed the apprenticeship levy, commented, “Although the levy in essence is great, there is a tension between those who view it as a great way of pipelining individuals directly into roles and those who view the levy simply as a numbers game. The challenge is to balance the strategy with the desire to offset as much of the levy as possible.”


Finally, Alkin spoke about school leavers. She said, “80% of school leavers have a basic idea of the career path they would like to take, with over 50% of Year 11 students feeling the same. This just shows how important it is to be aware of top talent at the early stages, and interact with them. One way of promoting the brand is through Brand Ambassadors; graduates, now more than ever, want to connect with real people, hear the voice of the employees at the organisation. There is perhaps more mistrust in big organisations than ever before, so using your employees helps avoid this.”


The event, aimed at graduate heads, was attended by over 70 people from JP Morgan Chase, Marks and Spencer, DPD, Santander, Deutsche Bank, GlaxoSmithKline, New Look and HSBC. It also hosted an interactive discussion, where the audience posed questions to an expert panel.


The panel included Alison Heron, global university relations director at GlaxoSmithKline; Robert Walke, head of front office campus recruiting EMEA and vice president at JPMorgan Chase; Paul McDonald, community development officer at DPD Group and Jeanette Maister, US MD of WCN and M&S’ Alkin.


The first question asked was ‘What are the most important aspects of recruiting emerging talent from an employer’s perspective?’ The panel replied: “Identify your targets, candidate experience, be honest and deliver on promises, keep the process personal, early engagement, have an efficient selection process in place and use brand ambassadors wisely.”


The closing question was ‘As we see a gulf in social demographics, what are you doing to make social mobility fairer?’ The panel responded: “Growing apprenticeships schemes, blind-recruitment, engage with the parents of top talent, widen selection criteria, alter pre-conceptions of the brand, use Big Data much better and work alongside technology rather than viewing it as our competition.”

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