Suppose you gave a party…It is the nightmare scenario for most of us. You get really buzzed up about a party, make all the arrangements, do the food and drinks, organize entertainment and…. nobody shows up. What did you do wrong? Inevitably, we all think, is it me? The reality is, that ‘no show’ is happening on a national scale right now. Admittedly, it’s not a party, but the lost opportunity and negative impact is exponentially greater. With over a million current job vacancies employers, recruitment consultants, DWP professionals, training providers and academics are not just scratching their heads, they are pulling their collective hair out at the roots. The entire human resource-supply chain appears gummed up. No one has diagnosed the problem and the usual media bloviators are wheeled out to prognosticate, adding to our growing confusion and frustration.
What has changed?
Do we have the right people but in the wrong geographical locations? Are too many young people aspiring to degrees which provide little prospect of a well-paid career in the long term? Has Covid 19 made the entire adult population recalibrate about quality of life – placing many other things above a career? Is there mass health-anxiety? Has furlough, enhanced benefits and a long, hot summer created a miasma of apathy killing both drive and ambition? Is there a herd-mentality pushing people away from industries such as Hospitality and Retail which have proven to be the first casualties of the pandemic?
Maybe, some or all of the above, but most likely, a mixture which has regional flavour variation. Although the cause cannot be isolated, the symptoms are literally in our faces. Hordes of unfilled vacancies. Huge numbers of no-shows for interviews. Job offers which generate no response. Hundreds of thousands of hours spent attempting to find, attract, engage and entice candidates. Overheated wage-inflation to simply get the hidden candidates to break cover. Commercial strategies in tatters. Rising panic at operational leadership level driving frustration and knee-jerk decisions in the boardroom. The problem exists for full-time and part time positions, at all levels of role and salary and, with government driven traineeships.
The oxymoron which is – rising unemployment and simultaneous labour shortage is twisting the collective melon. Can we get to the root of this conundrum? The cold hard truth is – we have to. It is imperative to quickly isolate the cause and drive a constructive, motivational, realistic solution before our country gets into an even deeper hole than that created over the last twenty four months.
Rebuilding skills and capability
We need to find the button which reactivates the candidate conveyor belt. Motivate the desire in people to work. Offer an alternative to seductive but often useless degrees. Rebuild skills and capability in practical career paths. Put some pride back into jobs which in the past were the mark of a person’s worth and contribution to society. With some urgency, let’s ask – what will it take to get us back to work?