Is it time for a sea change in the quality of careers advice?

A recent article in The Recruiter suggests that despite an improved level of unemployment, vacancies in skills shortage areas are on the rise.  This suggests there is a real disconnect between what we are educating our young people for, and what the employment market actually needs.

The CBI highlights that the downside of faster growth in the UK is an increasing skills gap crisis.  This is posing some real challenges to organisations seeking to plan their talent pipeline, and finding they are not able to attract suitably qualified and skilled staff to meet the demands of contracts won.

Outplacement statistics for resettlement of redundant staff receiving support from Chiumento show that making a choice to invest in further training is rare, averaging 2% of our delegates in 2012, 3% across 2013 and in the last quarter of 2013, a miserable 0% chose to invest in their own development.

CT stats - oct-dec 13

What is all this telling us when considering the question of skills shortages?

Key shortages are in skills trades such as plumbers or electricians, and our statistics confirm that many of these are choosing a self-employed rather than employed route.  They then contract into organisations or seek out domestic work.  This behaviour is likely to be exacerbating skills shortages within the employed marketplace with vacancies increasingly filled through contracted staff who are self-employed instead.

Other skills issues identified include problems with very specific and yet more generic skills, like communication skills – and especially oral communication, as well as a lack of literacy.  A discussion might be had here about the impact technology has had on these particular skill areas.

Most concerning of all though is the lack of interest in further training.  Expectations are that investment in further training will deliver corresponding pay improvements.  However, as reported in Recruiter recently, nearly half of UK employers admit they recruit people with higher levels of skills and knowledge than is required for the job.  Arguably this encourages early dissatisfaction in a job you are already over-qualified for, whilst those who might learn ‘on the job’ are denied the chance to do so.

Meanwhile the Adzunda report out this month shows that despite the improved growth and unemployment figures, salaries remain flat at best and in some regions and industries are falling, so there is little prospect for improved pay as a direct consequence of development.  No doubt this is an important factor in decisions to invest our hard-earned money in our own development.

The Recruiter concludes that there is urgent need for a sea change in the quality of careers advice in schools.  This needs to ensure that early on school leavers can be aware of and make informed decisions about their future career path, including an awareness of where skills shortages lie.  This is something that has been talked about for many a year, yet still the penny does not seem to have dropped that proper alignment is absolutely crucial to setting our children up for future successful careers.

Sarah Chiumento

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