How to find the right staff during a skills shortage

According to the September 2016 Economic Review from the Office for National Statistics, the UK’s job market is performing strongly overall, but there are vacancies that just aren’t getting filled. This is due to a seemingly relentless skills shortage that is affecting a large number of industries, including the engineering, automotive and logistics sectors.

So, if your company is suffering under the strain of being understaffed, how can you attract qualified people — or even those who are looking to be trained up — to apply for your vacancies? Here are some strategies that other businesses are benefiting from.

Offer more than just a job

When there’s a skills shortage, qualified workers in struggling sectors become increasingly valuable, and they know it. As they’re in high demand, they’re in a position to ask for more money and benefits. So, if you want to recruit more employees, you’ll benefit from making an effort to offer more work perks than your competitors do.

Outline potential paths of progression during the recruitment process, and mention any benefits new employees can expect to receive, whether these are financial bonuses or things like free gym memberships. People are more likely to be drawn to companies that offer more than just a job, so this should be something you focus on within your business wherever possible.

Offer apprenticeships and training programmes

Many companies — especially those in the engineering and logistics industries — are seeing the benefits of taking on unqualified members of staff and training them up. One such company is Impact Handling, a materials handling company. Its human resources manager, Elaine Smith, says: “At Impact, our response to the engineering skills shortage has been to recruit a number of apprentices every year. We currently have 11 apprentices at various stages of their training, along with former apprentices who have been given full-time engineering roles.

“Strategically, we feel that our apprenticeship development and mentoring programme is enabling us to futureproof our organisation against the skills shortage of tomorrow.”

As she mentions, not only can you help your business to recover from a skills shortage with this approach, but you can also protect it against future crises that might occur. Plus, your workers can be trained in line with your specific guidelines, which cannot be said about those recruited from your competitors.

If you would like to look into offering apprenticeships, take a look at the UK government’s guidelines for information about what you should expect and what your responsibilities would be.


Social media might be king in the increasingly online world we live in, but it will never build relationships as strong as those made face-to-face. Therefore, you should consider going out to recruitment fairs, industry events and conferences, where you’ll be given a chance to meet people and explain what your business is all about. You’ll be able to put faces to your brand and let everyone know how fantastic the company you work for is. A conversation, however short, is always going to get your point across better than a 140-character tweet ever will, so go back to basics and start real life conversations in an effort to spread the word about your company and its vacancies.

Join forces with local schools and colleges

It’s likely that schools and colleges in your area offer courses that are relevant to your work. Try to join forces with them to arrange work experience placements and workshops, or even to give talks on the work your company does. Then, when the students come to the end of their studies and are looking for a job, you’re likely to be their first port of call.

If you keep this up, you’ll have a steady stream of potential recruits that come through every year, which you’ll certainly appreciate in the long-run.

A lot of UK businesses are struggling as a result of the current skills shortage, but this doesn’t have to cause your company too much harm. Put a solid recruitment strategy together, be willing to train up new employees, and discuss your vacancies with people face-to-face wherever possible and you’ll soon start to see results.