It’s happening again.
Every few years or so, I start hearing the same old complaint from people I meet with. That there’s a ‘shortage of skills’, and ‘it’s getting really difficult to recruit’ here in the North East.
I’ve heard it so many times now that you’d think it would be easier if I just nodded, smiled and agreed with them.
But I just can’t. Because, honestly, what they’re saying is a load of rubbish! Every time I hear it, I feel like delivering them a swift karate-chop…Miss Piggy style!
Why? Well, to tweak a quote from that same pig, “Talent is in the eye of the beholder…and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye.”
Skills are just like a natural resource; they exist in a raw state – ‘talent’, but you only really get the best value from that raw material if you develop it. And just like some of our earth’s natural resources, unless we look after and sustain them, the pool will eventually dry up.
So, if we are facing a shortage of skills, it’s because we haven’t developed and nurtured people with talent.
The trouble is, I always seem to hear the same excuses as to why companies aren’t investing in talent development;
- We’re in a tough economic climate, like we are now, where although companies have the time to develop people, money is tight. Or…
- Business is going well; so although the company is in a position to fund training or take on interns, they’re too busy operationally to make commitments.
It’s a vicious circle, but companies are going to have to break it at some point.
Maybe we are an area of Muppets… think of our aging workforce; full of people like Statler and Waldoft. Eventually these talents will retire from the workforce and leave a considerable skills gap behind them. Unless we start developing people now, what will we do in years to come?
Meanwhile, people like Kermit’s little nephew, ‘Robin the Frog’, are left unemployed. He’s a clever and talented little soul, but he has no experience. Just like many other talented, but unemployed, school leavers, graduates or semi-skilled employees, he’s not had the chance to reach his full potential. Because companies focus so much on looking for ‘finished article’ employees, people like Robin are being overlooked. If only a company would take them on as apprentice or develop them; think how much it would benefit them if they were able to gain a little experience and really develop some transferrable skill sets.
Too many companies are just burying their heads in the sand; hoping someone else will take responsibility for developing new talent and that in a few years time, the skills pool will grow and sort itself out. But unless we make a conscious effort, as businesses, to select our people properly (by which I mean for talent and behaviour and then develop them) we’re going to end up in exactly the same situation a few years down the line.
And I’m going to have to hear it all again! So:
It’s time to play the music,
It’s time to light the lights,
It’s time to get things started,
‘n help some new talent tonight!