How to tackle Exeter's skills shortage

11 February 2020

By Sarah Knight

​There’s no getting away from the fact that there’s a skill shortage in Exeter. We have been a fast growing city for some time. That, coupled with a low level of unemployment means that the recruitment of certain skill sets isn’t as easy as it used to be. And there’s certainly fewer people actively looking for new jobs.

Gone are the days where you’d advertise a role and be bombarded with applications. No longer are you able to control the recruitment process. You can’t take your time to get it right, choosing between lots of applicants keen to work for you.

It’s a candidate driven market. They are in in the driving seat, and it doesn’t look as though that’s going to change any time soon. As a hiring manager you’re going to potentially have to change how you think about recruitment. You need to be prepared to move quickly and potentially be more flexible with what you’re looking for.

Things to consider:

Employee retention strategy

You need to be looking after your existing staff and making sure your offering is competitive in the market, that they’re happy, being managed well and you’re working on their development. Retaining and developing staff should be a priority and will potentially reduce your need to recruit as well as upskilling your workforce and improve morale.

Salary/benefits

Are you really offering a competitive salary, benefits and incentives?

Someone doing a similar job for a similar salary isn’t likely to move sideways without good reason. You either need to entice experienced staff to your company by offering a significantly better salary/package or offering a bigger incentive such as career development. Or you need to understand that the people you should be focusing on are those looking for their next step up and should therefore refocus.

Get in touch with us if you’d like more information on salary expectations. Or a quick search of the job boards will reveal who is recruiting locally and what they’re paying.

Do people want to work for you?

Prospective employees will be checking you out before to making an application or attending interview. Make sure that you are seen as an employer of choice and that any enquiries come back with favourable results.

Hire attitude and train skills

Are you restricting your search for someone with job and/or industry experience?

If you can’t find what you’re looking for you’ll potentially need to compromise. Strip down your requirements into what’s absolutely essential. Identify where you could train/upskill. Someone who is a good cultural fit who can demonstrate the right attributes/enthusiasm and has a relevant background, success in previous roles, transferrable skills, the desire to learn/progress and appears a good long term hire can be trained and should therefore be considered a good prospect.

In the time it would take you to wait for someone who ticks all the boxes you could have hired and trained your next super star employee. You can offer a lower salary and incentives based on personal development. Grow your own talent. This has a feel good factor for you and the new incumbent – and sends out a positive message about your organisation

Hire a graduate or apprentice

Graduates are full of enthusiasm and ready to embark on a career. With their current theoretical knowledge gained in their chosen (business related?) subject, a graduate could be a good hire. Some have relevant experience gained as part of a sandwich course or via part time work too. Amost all have well practised written and verbal communication skills, the ability to work to deadlines, manage a busy workload and analytical skills. They’re cheaper to hire, the cost is potentially in the time to fully train – but this could well be the answer to finding someone you can develop within the business. A graduate will, most likely, expect a well structured training plan and development so you need to be prepared to meet their expectations.

Working with a professional recruitment company that has good local, and national, reach in terms of attracting candidates, a good reputation, an extensive candidate database and the determination to help you find the right candidates to consider is the other option. Give us a call on 01392 873813 if you’ve any particular issues with your recruitment. We’re always happy to talk them through.

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