How to find the right people in a skills shortage sector

Caroline Wilson, head of HR at home security specialists Evander, shares her top tips for finding the right people during a skills shortage.

shutterstock_142027168Here at Evander, we employ a large number of skilled labourers, many of whom have multiple skillsets. Our home improvement, repair, and emergency response services require trained locksmiths, carpenters, window and garage door fitters, glaziers and surveyors, to name but a few. Of course, finding skilled workers who are trained and up-to-date on industry best-practice, as well as the specific rules and regulations surrounding home improvements, can be a challenge. Any company operating in this sector is likely to say the same — that there is an issue with finding employees who have these important skills.

As the UK economy moves into a more settled phase than we have experienced over the last few years, this shortage of skilled workers has become more apparent. Since the crash in 2008, the home improvement industry took a downwards turn because people did not have the spare cash to spend on their properties. What’s more, due to the slump in the housing market, people were less inclined to make voluntary home improvements due to a potentially poor return. Now that the UK is moving out of this particularly challenging phase, demand is increasing for the work that we do, and our demand for skilled employees has risen with it.

In response to this demand, we have begun to recruit skilled workers in all disciplines on a nationwide scale. Demand and competition for skilled labourers in the South and South-East is high; someone with the right skillset can often demand higher wages and is able to choose who they work for. To attract candidates with the right skillset in a competitive market, it is important to make your job opportunities as attractive as possible to ensure you are as competitive.

In order to attract more skilled workers to come to your business, it can be useful to review your recruitment process. This is something we have done ourselves, and we are currently in the process of redesigning our recruitment webpages. The current job adverts on our website are kept updated and we have set up a direct recruitment hotline and email to our HR department. This will make it as easy as possible for potential employees to ask questions and register their interest in a role. It is also worth exploring alternative advertorial routes to find skilled workers. For example, we have branched out to advertise vacancies on local radio stations across the UK to reach potential employees who are not internet savvy.

Sometimes it is necessary to find short-term solutions to skills shortages, such as using sub-contractors to relieve areas where there is high demand. This is a step we have taken, where these sub-contractors are asked to step in when our own engineers are spread too thinly. Though we do try and keep this to a minimum, it can ease the burden on our existing employees while we build stronger foundations skills-wise.

Investing in the future is something that all businesses should look to do. Skilled workers don’t just fall from the sky, and that’s why it is important to nurture talent and provide the right training and qualifications to help your staff develop the necessary skills for your business. At Evander, we employ trainees as well as fully-qualified and experienced workers, helping them to become fully-trained employees over time. We’re also looking even further ahead and investing in the skilled workers of tomorrow by designing and launching an apprenticeship scheme, where the company will work with schools local to our branches and give young people the opportunity to gain valuable experience and skills.

Employing in a skill-shortage sector is not without its challenges, but by taking the right steps now you can solve the short term recruitment problems your company is facing, while also laying the foundations for a bright future.