Early Talent - Time to Reset the Dial?
Every week the recruitment media is full of articles regarding Early Careers talent attraction and yet many, if not all, of the Early Careers “strategies “ are rehashed tried and tested approaches that rely on minimal engagement and a headline event, for example a careers fair, or the Milk Round. This leads to an application process and a procession of interviews to test whether the potential employee has the right mix of skills - behavioural and technical. Typically, these interactions take place when the applicant has either completed or is very close to completing their studies. At this stage Employers often decry the education system and how it is failing to produce the skills businesses require.
Because of their approach, early careers is a largely transactional experience, hugely competitive and frequently disappointing for all sides; in light of this, it seems that many employers are missing an opportunity to shape their future workforce.
Gen Z isn’t interested in ticking boxes or following a process no matter how good the graphics or the audio is on the marketing content. Research from McKinseys and Forbes shows that increasingly Gen Z is looking for relationships, communities, and collaboration and Covid 19 has accentuated this.
Relationships: Forbes state that “employers looking to recruit and retain more diverse talent must invest in building authentic long-term relationships “and yet many employers do not engage with their future workforce until they have completed or are about to complete a key stage of exams – GCSE, A ‘levels, first degree. If companies changed their approach to engage students prior to them making academic choices, they would have the ability to guide those choices, removing many of the barriers for the chosen pathway.
Digital communities: Gen Z is exceptional at creating online relationships and communities. A digital community offers opportunity for a prospective employer to inform, educate, and inspire the future workforce and the skills they require. Digital contact is easy, training content and information is abundant in most organisations. Building digital communities would broaden the diversity of students potentially involved with any given employer through open access.
Collaboration: Employers should engage schools as early as years 7-8 and definitely by year 9. The opportunity to work with students to build a digital profile that showcases achievements and interests not just academic performance is critical in helping to address some of the diversity and social mobility challenges. It is a failure of the current labour market that is still largely driven by one dimensional application and CV processes whether online or not.
In summary, if business is to secure the talent that it needs for the future, it needs to re-assess the engagement strategy with the future workforce, investing in the education process in partnership with the state run system and to help create a workforce that can meet the supply side challenges that are increasingly prevalent both from a skills, diversity and social mobility perspective.