New skills are key to future growth, says report

Mar 31, 2019

The firm’s People Power study highlighted how the rise of Artificial Intelligence , record high employment rates and ongoing skills shortages, which could be further exacerbated by Brexit, are all changing the world of work.

As a result, recruiting and keeping the right people to drive business growth has become an increasing challenge for many employers – and an even more pressing concern for high growth companies, with more than 90% of those questioned during the research saying they did not currently have the skills within their organisation they will need over the next five years.

Grant Thornton’s report found the skills which will be most valuable to high growth businesses are technical (59%) and digital (56%) but also entrepreneurial (43%) and emotional (41%). A third cited academic abilities as a priority.

Fiona Baldwin, practice leader at Grant Thornton’s Milton Keynes office, said: “The pace of technological change means employing people who can simply ‘do the job’ is not enough. Employers need creative minds to bring innovative thought and ways of doing things that will drive productivity and profitability in challenging market conditions.

  • Pictured: Fiona Baldwin, Grant Thornton practice leader in Milton Keynes.

“Traditional recruitment methods that focus on academic achievement and work experience can often mean businesses overlook the very people with the ideal mindset for growth – creative, empathetic, entrepreneurial, adaptable and a strong team player.

“Thinking more laterally about how to attract employees with the right values and potential over formal qualifications can uncover new pools of talent and deliver wider possibilities for growth.”

The ‘Millennials’ – those aged 16-25 – are expected to make up a third of the global workforce by 2020. Grant Thornton’s research shows that many (56%) still seek competitive pay and good career prospects (52%) but they also prioritise working for organisations with an ethical and responsible approach (30%) that make a difference to society (25%).

“High employment rates and the rise of job review sites like Glassdoor mean workers have never had more power,” said Ms Baldwin. “Our research suggests the answer to attracting talent, especially the next generation, may lie beyond simply offering higher pay and enhanced benefits. Culture and the overall purpose of an organisation is playing an increasingly important role.

“Unfortunately, there is no simple, universal solution to help businesses to tackle the common barriers to talent management our research identified .”

These are:
  • Finding people with the right mindset to drive growth;
  • Competing for in-demand talent;
  • Retaining skills in a rapidly evolving environment;
  • Equipping people for the workplace of the future.

“That is why it is vital for businesses to share best practice and strategies that are successfully addressing these pressing challenges,” said Ms Baldwin. “People will remain the critical driver for future business productivity and sustainable, long term success.

“Those organisations who make sure they have the right talent and skills in place to drive growth will be the winners and play a vital role in shaping a vibrant, productive and progressive economy that benefits all.”

‘Attracting new skills sits alongside other strategies’
Grant Thornton hosted a Directors Insights event at its Milton Keynes office to discuss the findings of the People Power report with local firms. 

David Abrahams, finance director at commercial law firm Howes Percival, said at the event: “Attracting new skills to the business is very important but this sits alongside other strategies including staff retention and developing existing talent. It can sometimes be difficult to find the right people locally but we look at a number of recruitment routes including personal recommendation, using specialist agencies, building the firm’s brand and reputation to attract talent and a remuneration policy which fairly rewards contributions and results.” 

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