Companies worldwide complain about a lack of candidates with the right skills. Increasingly, businesses are tackling the problem themselves by working with education providers to create the employees of tomorrow.

Skills drought

The recent economic turmoil has taken its toll on businesses in many parts of the world, but it’s skill shortages that pose a real threat to future growth.

Whether it’s the shortage of skilled recruits at entry level, the growing need for specialist knowledge or global skills demand exceeding supply, few organisations are immune to this serious challenge to long-term economic growth and sustainability.

Seeds of change  business & academic partnerships

Many employers have told me that that young people are leaving higher and further education with great academic qualifications, but a lack of basic workplace skills such as team working, communication, initiative and punctuality. Rather than waiting for a government-led solution, these employers are tackling this issue themselves.

A global trend has emerged for businesses and academic institutions to form partnerships to create industry training. This includes diplomas, degrees and apprenticeships.

The programmes focus on the required technical skills without compromising the qualification’s academic value. This addresses short-term skills demand and will help to meet future workplace requirements.

Developing workplace insight – key for career development

Our recent survey of jobseekers found the vast majority regard workplace training as the best route to career progression. In a highly competitive and crowded jobs market, internships and other career training schemes are increasingly important to make sure employees can get a foot in the door, make their CV stand out from the crowd and continue to learn new skills.

Career training programmes give employers the chance to work with potential employees and train new workers from scratch. The survey found that on-the-job training (68%) and using an in-house training department (50%) were both viewed as an effective use of training.

Global reach

In the US for example, where skill shortages posed a threat to manufacturing, the partnership approach is well established. Training programmes devised by the Manufacturing Institute, a not-for-profit affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers, are delivered by employers and community college partnerships.

Other countries have taken a similar approach to the problem of scarcity of skilled candidates. Interestingly, some of the most successful partnerships between industry and academia can be found in the emerging economies of Brazil, India, China and Southeast Asia.

Sustainable education in business

In some places, the success of partnered skilled development has raised the education standards in general in addition to preparing for the new generation to be workplace ready. Just as we all thought we had heard the last of the school bell, it might be back to school for us all.

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Written by Barney Ely, director, Hays Human Resources

Barney Ely is a director at Hays Human Resources.

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