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King's Lynn & West Norfolk HR experts Human Capital Department on how firms are addressing skills shortages and winning the war for talent

The labour market remains difficult for local employers with shortages of applicants in most disciplines and across most business sectors. Services, health & social care, and hospitality sectors have been particularly hard hit by a combination of Covid and Brexit, writes Peter Lawrence of Human Capital Department.

There are fewer people in the job market and unemployment remains low.

With cost-of-living increases (rises of food and energy bills) hitting our pockets, employees are naturally looking for pay increases to at least keep pace with inflation, and unionised workforces (such as railway, and postal workers are ready to strike for improved terms and conditions of employment).

Peter Lawrence column, Human Capital Department.
Peter Lawrence column, Human Capital Department.

Money isn’t everything – a recent survey indicated that young jobseekers (sometimes known as “Generation Z”- defined as those born between 1997 and 2012) are more interested in benefits (such as flexible working and gym membership) rather than higher wages. Employers are responding in an effort to attract talent with hybrid working being top of work perks being advertised.

It can be difficult for smaller firms to offer peaks and benefits of larger corporates, but local SME businesses are responding. For example, financial services company locally have trialled hybrid working – allowing employees to work partly in the office and partly from home.

At another firm, a flexible benefits scheme has been introduced allowing employees to “pick and mix” their benefits package; some employee value gym membership while others prefer additional flexibility and time off and so on.

Peter Lawrence column, Human Capital Department.
Peter Lawrence column, Human Capital Department.

Other employers are addressing skills shortages by developing training and apprenticeship programmes to ‘grow their own’. A local hotelier has recently introduced a scheme for young people to be trained as chefs. Who knows they could become the next Marco Pierre White or Jamie Oliver.

Such initiatives are not without their challenges and take time and effort to implement and come to fruition.

It is hard to find and retain good people; there is no silver bullet, but the firms that are seeking to address HR issues and are ready to implement solutions will win the day. Win the war for talent and attracting and retaining talent will give businesses sustainable competitive edge.

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