Plugging the skills gap in the STEM sector

The world is experiencing a significant skills shortage across the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics sectors and we have been seeing the effects of this in the UK. Over the last couple of years, I have found organisations such as yours struggling to recruit the right calibre of employee into their business. This means industry, service companies and academia need to start working together to find solutions to this increasing problem. We have researched a few methods that may help your business recruit the right skillset and help your business grow.

Hire an apprentice
Many businesses overlook the prospect of hiring an apprentice and this is a great way to provide an opportunity to someone looking for a break into your industry. This is a cost effective route that allows you to train an apprentice with the skills that are vital to your business. By providing this person with an opportunity you may well end up with a very loyal employee who will stay with your business for many years.

Graduate internship
I regularly speak with students and graduates who are desperate to gain vital industrial experience to grow their own portfolio and help with their job prospects when they graduate. This is a fantastic way a business can provide something back to the community as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and is a cheap way to help start providing skills to the next generation of employees. If your business regularly recruits graduates, this is also a great way to see how they may fit into your business prior to making them a long term offer of employment when they graduate.

Training and development
When considering the training and development plan for an individual try to think about how that person is going to fit into your business long term. What skills gap may appear as a result of retirement, maternity leave, sick leave or someone resigning from your business? Make sure their training is tailored to the company’s needs and if you get this right, you should end up with a good staff retention rate meaning your business should never be without the skills it needs to thrive.

Employ the services of a specialist contractor
The option of employing a specialist contractor is often overlooked as an option to improve expertise within a business. A contractor who specialises within a given area usually has many years of knowledge in their field and is able to provide advice, guidance and support that may help with the direction of the company. It’s also a good option if you require a skill set for a specific project or to cover another employee’s absence.

Promote talent within your business
When considering recruiting first ask yourself is there anyone internally within the business who can do this job? You may already have the perfect person for the position internally, you just don’t know if yet! Promoting from within the company is a great selling point for your company and can make you an employer of choice for anyone looking for work. It can also help with your staff retention rates meaning you get to spend less time worrying about recruiting and more time to concentrate on running the business.

Address the issue of stagnant salaries and poor benefits
Salaries in recent years have stayed relatively flat and there has been a lack of movement of people between companies and therefore a lack of knowledge floating from one organisation to another. One way to attract talent and take advantage of a specific skillset is to offer them something to move away from their current employer. Can you afford to pay more than your competitor? Do you have a better benefits package that you can offer? Good holiday allowance? A renowned training and development programme? Equally, this works for your current employees by reviewing their salary and benefits and may prevent them from moving on.

Industry collaborating with academia
Multi-national corporations are very good at collaborating with academia and making use of equipment and knowledge within universities or taking university ideas and commercialising them. SME’s aren’t as good. Universities are a great source of innovative ideas that your business may be able to commercialise and make a capital gain on. Much of the R&D is likely to have been conducted and it also gives students and university researchers an opportunity to see their ideas and skills put to good use to improve the world. Additionally, the university may have equipment that might be costly to purchase but they might be happy for you to use. Many universities have invested heavily in education centres and created some hi-tech facilities that are very impressive.

The CK Group has over 25 years’ experience working with industry and academia. We are well positioned to provide you with sound advice about market conditions and assist you in recruiting the right person for your business. If you would like to talk with one of our specialist Recruitment Consultants, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss what options might work best for you.


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