After weeks of jaw dropping performances, laughter and tears – Britain’s Got Talent finally comes to an end. While there can only be one winner, it’s clear that there is a wealth of talent in Britain. I couldn’t help but draw some parallels to this with the job market in Wales, as there are many talented job seekers, but not all are winning the work. So how can we make sure that more vacancies are filled to help people use their talents?
New findings from the Employer Skills Survey 2013: Wales Results sheds light on this question. It’s one of the largest employer surveys of its kind, and it shows that the job market in Wales is bouncing back, with more vacancies opening up when compared to 2011. While this means more opportunities for people to get back in work, the findings also show that not all of these vacancies are being filled. Surprisingly, employers are struggling to fill one in every five vacancies, and this is due to applicants not having the right skills for the job.
So what kind of skills are employers looking for? Technical, practical or job specific skills were at the top of this list and this usually relates to the type of industry the job role is in. Next on this list were planning and organisation skills, followed by oral communication skills. Both are considered to be ‘soft’ skills which are fundamental to all job roles regardless of the industry.
Having spent much of my career in the hospitality sector and working with an array of employees and businesses, I think a number of improvements can be made to address this vacancy mismatch. First, for those in work but looking to progress into other roles, the use of regular and relevant training can help to equip individuals with suitable skills for the job. This benefits employers like myself as we have access to the talent we need, but also individuals as they can use their skills and talents effectively. So as an employee ask yourself, is there any training that would help you to make the most of your abilities? And for employers think about creating training opportunities to help develop your staff and also your business. The survey shows that around four in ten employers in Wales do no training at all. This is a missed opportunity.
For those out of work and looking for a job, it’s easy to become disheartened when opportunities fail to materialise. Many of the acts through to the Britain’s Got Talent final have performed to various audiences before appearing on the show. And with each performance you learn something new and seek feedback. It’s the same with job interviews. Ask yourself what you can improve for the next time, and think about how you can develop your soft skills through other avenues such as voluntary work. Work experience placements are also a useful route to gaining valuable skills and helping to prepare people for work. Figures from UKCES show that around a third of employers in Wales offer work experience placements or internships. However, of those employers who did not offer either of these, a quarter of them said it was because no one had approached them. This shows that employers in Wales are willing to help people get on in work, but this needs to be matched with pro-active job seekers willing to seek out work experience opportunities.
On a wider level, I feel there is also a need for closer links between employers and training providers. By creating more collaboration between both sides we can ensure future skills shortages are avoided, with employers giving training providers accurate information on the skills they need, and education providers tailoring courses to create more employable recruits.
It’s clear that Wales is beginning to show strong signs of recovery from the recession, but skills shortages are limiting this growth. We can tackle this by working together. This means opening up opportunities for training existing staff and supporting those keen to get back into work. It sounds like a winning combination to me.