Why skill building will be key to recruitment and business success in 2022

The way we work and do business has changed to such a degree over the past two years that skill-building on both an individual and an organisational level is critical.

Employers will be looking for candidates to demonstrate a range of skills that have become vital in a world where change is now the norm.

Candidates will be seeking an employer that can demonstrate that they have a comprehensive learning and development programme that will help them build on these skills.

Employees will be looking elsewhere if their needs for continuous learning aren’t met.

Skill-building has become vital for talent attraction and retention. Business success depends on it.

The job market remains candidate-light and job-heavy as we enter 2022. WaveTrackR data shows that jobs have been steadily rising since May 2021, with just a slight dip in October and a seasonal dip in December.

Jobs have been rising since May 2021, with a slight dip in October and a seasonal dip in December – WaveTrackR December 2021 Report

Applications, meanwhile, are comparatively low. The market remains very much candidate-driven and when candidates have their pick of jobs it will often come down to employer branding. Which organisation most aligns with my values and can facilitate the career progression I want to take?

In LinkedIn’s Future of Skill Building report, for which millions of employees were surveyed, number 1 in the top 3 ‘drivers of work culture’ was ‘opportunities to learn and grow’. Ranked number 9 in 2019, this driver has grown tremendously in significance for employees over the years of the pandemic.

Whether you believe in the ‘Great Resignation’ or not, talent attraction and retention is vitally important at a time when competition is rife.

Demonstrate to candidates and employees that you are invested in them by offering mentorship, training and a plan for continuous learning and they are more likely to return that loyalty. This is even more important with a remote or hybrid hire.

Good leadership has always been important but an emphasis on empathetic leadership has gained prominence since the pandemic brought into focus how crucial it is to be a leader who not only cares but that can pick up on tensions, low morale and issues both at and outside of work and handle the situation in an understanding way. In fact, employee retention depends on it. In a survey of 3,000 workers by Good Hire, 82% said they would potentially quit their job because of a bad manager.

Of course, talent attraction and retention is only one side of it. It is critical for businesses that their employees have the relevant skills in a rapidly changing world.

In McKinsey’s 2021 year in review survey, 69% of respondents reported that skill-building within their organisation has increased over the past 2 years as compared to before the pandemic. The biggest increase in focus for skill-building was social and emotional skills, including leadership and managing others, adaptability and continuous learning (vital in a constantly changing environment), interpersonal skills and empathy. Advanced cognitive skills, such as critical thinking and decision making, project management, quantitive and statistical skills, complex information processing and interpretation, were also found to be key. 

Technological skills such as basic digital skills and data analysis were also prioritised by organisations as they continue to meet the challenges of hybrid working and a dispersed team.

As the digital transformation disrupts every aspect of our lives, a raft of digital skills have become hugely in demand (WaveTrackR data has recorded IT & Internet as posting amongst the highest percentage of jobs across all industries for years).

IT & Internet are in the top 5 of industries for jobs posted – WaveTrackR December 2021 Report

The World Economic Forum’s Top 10 Job Skills for 2025 look very similar, the top 9 focusing on enabling employees to rapidly address change, navigate uncertain and unexpected situations, collaborate with a global workforce, and perform with empathy. The 10th is ‘technology design and programming’. The Forum forecasts that 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025.  

Skills gaps have been an issue long before the onset of the pandemic but the way the world has changed since that time has accelerated the need for skill-building.

The upside for candidates and recruiters is that the increased importance placed on social and emotional skills makes it easier for job seekers to change industries or consider a role that they have little experience in. In a hugely competitive, candidate-driven market, it means that less reliance needs to be placed on candidates having set experience, which can open up the talent pool for recruiters. These sort of transferrable skills are just that – they can be applied to different jobs in different sectors.

Skill-building has become critical for talent attraction and retention, future-proofing businesses, and for the health of the economy. It’s why the government invested in its National Skills Fund, to support economic recovery and future skills needs that will be vital to economic growth.

Much has been said about the automation of jobs but, whilst some roles won’t require humans, many more jobs will be created that need those very human interpersonal and creative skills, plus more technological roles that will be needed to manage the AI.

What is clear is that employers, recruiters and candidates need to focus on building skills that will future-proof jobs and businesses. The economy depends on it.  

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