Dealing With the Skills Gap – Qualifications over Experience

There is a definate skills gap in Facilities Management – Is the answer to go for qualifications over experience?

Peter Forshaw from Maxwell Stephens argues the case.

Skills gaps do exist when there are fewer experienced candidates on the market to deal with the recruitment needs of the employer. These exist within many industries such as Facilities Management (FM) and affect different roles, with two of the most common broad sectors being engineering and management. The skills gap exists and will exist in the future because employers are focused on finding candidates who have all the attributes for the role they are recruiting, rather than planning ahead or taking qualifications into account.

As of today’s date there are currently over one million 16-24 year olds who are unemployed in the UK and as we are dealing with an ageing workforce, it is important to take steps now to bridge the skills gap before it affects the day to day running of UK Plc. I personally believe employers in the Facilities Management (FM) industry need to think more about the future when it comes to recruitment, rather than trying to fill vacancies at the last minute. There are several ways in which employers can deal with the skills gap and these require looking at qualifications over experience, as well as forward planning.

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Apprenticeships and Work Placements

I don’t meant to state the obvious but offering apprenticeships and work placements can be a good way to forward plan for any potential skills gaps in the future. It gives the worker the opportunity to spend time in your company while they study and get an understanding of the environment they work in. It also gives the employer the chance to recruit these individuals when they finish studying and although they may not have all of the skills required for a particular role, they can be developed until they reach the right level.  Many employers in the FM industry talk about skills shortages without putting anything in place for growing talent within the workplace (there are of course some notable exceptions). This is really important for future recruitment needs. Apprenticeships and work placements give employers the opportunity to look more closely at how the individual will adapt to the culture and fit in within the business. Cultural fit being ever so important within FM, if not more, important than simply the experience of the person.

Training and Development

There are many qualified individuals who are highly employable but are actively seeking work due to a lack of training and development opportunities. These candidates could turn out to be an important asset to your company if they are given the chance to show what they are capable of. They can also be a good way to help close skills gaps in the future and as long as they have basic skills, the qualifications should have provided sufficient knowledge for them to be able to perform adequately in the role. There is always the option of offering training and development to recruits who perhaps have the qualifications but just need some assistance to get to the level required by the employer. Training and development is also good for employee relations as it will make the employee feel valued which means it will be easier to retain them.

Transferable Skills

Employers may also want to look at candidates who are qualified and have transferable skills which may be useful for the business. There are many candidates available who possess a relevant degree but perhaps have taken a different route after University or have settled within another industry due to a lack of opportunities at the time of graduating. It is important for employers to pay careful attention to the qualifications of the individual and whether the skills they possess may be useful to the role they are recruiting for. Some training and development may be all that is needed to get them to the level you are looking for. This can be an effective method for employers to close the skills gap.

Succession Planning

Succession planning is not a new phenomenon but it is of upmost importance when dealing with the widening talent gap. Succession planning involves looking ahead to the future of your organisation and ensuring you have people available to be promoted into key roles which may need filled. It entails planning for retirements, expansion and for the loss of talent within the business. Companies need to analyse the individuals they have with potential and how they can advance in the future to fill key roles. It is important for companies to use active succession planning, which means constantly developing it as changes take place within the business.  Succession planning also requires employers to look at their recruitment strategy and how they will replace employees who are promoted within the business.

Recruitment Strategy

In order to close the skill gap, employers also need to look at their recruitment strategy and ensure they are being as pro-active as possible when it comes to finding new and innovative ways of recruiting key talent.  These may include building strong relationship with recruitment agencies, making use of social media, attending careers fairs and meet ups, as well as using promotional videos to entice talented individuals. If employers are willing to consider qualified candidates who perhaps don’t have the experience; careers fairs and meet ups are a good way to find out more about other skills they may be able to offer, such as communication, enthusiasm and knowledge of the company.

Redesigning Jobs

When employers are constantly finding difficulty in recruiting for a particular facilities role; it may be worthwhile looking at redesigning the job description. This means looking at the tasks, duties and responsibilities of the role, in order to make it more attractive and appealing to potential candidates in the FM sector. There may be particular aspects of the job that are not necessary, or could be provided by another employee within the company. A change in the job spec, no matter how little it may be, can be enough to attract more applicants to the role. Redesigning can also be used for employees already employed within the business, to make the job more appealing and to allow them to utilise their skills more efficiently. It can help to keep retention levels higher and encourage employees to grow into other roles within the business, thus reducing the likelihood of skills gaps in the future.

Peter Forshaw is Managing Director for Maxwell Stephens Recruitment, Tel: 0207 118 4848 or peter@maxwellstephens.com.

The FM Job Search Compendium.

The FM Job Search Compendium.

If you’re looking for a new role within Facilities Management (FM) or if you’re facing redundancy, then the FM Job Search Compendium is an ideal read for you. This eBook contains everything you need to know regarding facilities management and offers free tips and advice from industry experts.

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