Addressing the Irish Skills Shortage – Advice for Employers

The Republic of Ireland has entered into an unusual time with the Economy now close to full employment. The CSO released figures in June 2019 that showed the unemployment rate in Ireland had hit 4.4pc for May 2019, as compared to 5.5 pc for May 2018.  Alan McQuaid noted in a piece published by the Independent that “full employment has implications for employers in terms of finding enough staff” which is something we have seen here in Quest.

Businesses are now struggling with trying to find the skills they need in their employees. At the CIPD Annual Conference 2019, it was mentioned that 84% of HR staff were struggling to get the skills needed for the roles open in their companies. According to an article published in The Times, June 2019, “Fund accountants, senior tax advisers and gastro-enterologists are all roles that may be facing a shortage of labour in Ireland”.

Hiring staff in this climate needs to become a top priority for organisations and there are many ways they can influence candidates to choose their company. In order to address this, there are certain steps that a company can take to attract, recruit and retain top skilled talent.

Diversity and Inclusion

What is vital for any company in 2019 is to invest in a diversity and inclusion scheme to ensure that you have a genuinely diverse and inclusive work environment. Where these schemes are put in place and not done well, it has been found that there was an increase in turnover, so it must be something a company is willing to invest time, effort and money in.

By creating a structured scheme with funding and visibility from the top down, you can increase confidence in the scheme and it shows employees and potential candidates that you are not just ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ but that you are serious about creating this kind of workforce.

Create networks in your company to represent and work towards a more inclusive workspace. These groups can then support you by helping you brainstorm ideas for inclusivity, shaping these projects and being part of the process when rolling them out. Don’t just create a seat at the table, but allow someone to use this seat!

If you have a diverse workforce, you will find that there will be a larger variety of thought which will lead to greater innovation. Embrace that diversity and use it to better yourself, your employees and your company.

Upskill Your Employees

Another key to attracting top talent is showing that you will help them upskill and expand when they are in your business. By implementing People Centric decision making in the business, you can show how serious you are about this.

At the moment, a threat to peoples work futures is the thought that their job could become an automated function in the next 5-10 years. If you upskill your staff, and train them to take on the new roles that will be emerging along with this change, they will be more likely to stay with your company as they will feel valued and uplifted. Job descriptions for roles that are currently on the market will more than likely change by up to 50% in the next 5 years.

Company Culture

If you can ensure that you have a company culture that will connect your employees to the mission of the company, you will find less of a turnover rate and also create ease when hiring as your employees will be your best advocates. By creating a space where employees can be creative and are free to work in an agile manner, you will be able to reap the rewards.

Make sure to prioritise staff retention and introduce themes into your workplace culture that encourage your staff to stay as they know that you believe in them and their potential. Create an environment with flexible working, increased annual leave and other employee benefits. Don’t be fooled however that putting a pool table into your staff break room will make the world of difference to your employees. While this is a fun perk, it would be better for the business to do an anonymous survey and ask employees what it is they really want – most of the time, you will see that it is more likely to be flexibility working and training opportunities than it is to be able to play pool!

When there is something to be celebrated such as International Women’s Day or Pride Month, make it a companywide initiative to acknowledge this! Another great thing to do is to celebrate the different cultures that make up your work team. Allow people to educate you on their cultural backgrounds through food, song or dance and use that experience to bond as a team over this new shared experience.

While doing all of the above does not ensure that you will be able to attract the top talent and retain the employees you have immediately during this skills shortage, it will help you to become a more diverse, inclusive and respectful company. Over time, if you uphold these ideals and champion your employees, this will become a key part of your company brand and you will find that candidates will flock to your company.