There’s been a lot of talk in recent times about ‘upskilling’, but post-Covid, there’s a new buzz term in town. ‘Skills Recycling’ is the fastest and most economically efficient way to plug gaps in the market, while also getting people back to work and utilising their expertise. In any context, recycling is about recognising how existing qualities can be repurposed in order to create something useful and sustainable, but it can have other benefits too.
Many people based in industries hard-hit by the pandemic might be faced with loss of work. While laying-off staff is inevitable for many businesses, terms like ‘redundant’ imply that a person’s skills are no longer useful. In fact, redundancy is mostly about a business’s ability to survive, and not about the relevance of a person’s skillset to the wider market.
The Chancellor’s Summer Statement was strongly focused on getting people back to work. While the ‘kick-starter’ scheme will prioritise young people, there was also funding pledged for thousands more careers advisors and jobcentre staff to help people find work. With some joined-up thinking between recruitment services and these advisors, there’s a huge opportunity for the ‘redeployment’ of skills here.
Recruitment has become an increasingly narrow process. With time a predominant factor searches for sector-specific keywords are often used to make the initial long list. Yet it’s easy for CVs to be tweaked to incorporate keywords, without containing much else to substantiate why a candidate’s previous experience might add value to a company.
This means that many people will be excluded from that initial cache of candidates, simply because they don’t fit the search terms of industry-specific jargon. Ultimately, this can leave hirers faced with a pile of near-duplicate CVs, all showcasing similar skills, experience and expertise.
It’s hardly surprising that this hiring system often leads to business stagnation. Companies go even further, asking for people who not only tick a skills box but who also fit their workplace ‘culture’. While the aim is to ensure harmony and perhaps conformity, looking for people who all fit the same mould isn’t exactly a recipe for business dynamism.
Looking for difference and the unexpected may seem contrary to the rules of recruitment, yet many companies are already recognising the value in this. The term ‘positive disruption’ has gained traction in the past year or so, as companies attempt to harness the value of the ‘rogue card’. Unfortunately, apart from satisfying a perception of themselves as ‘innovators’, most companies don’t know what to do with so-called disruptors in a sea of ‘yes men’.
Yet the Covid crisis has proven without doubt that it’s innovation and the ability to adapt that’s key to business survival. Organisations who got to grips with how they could best adapt their product, and how they offered it, fared the best by far. It’s logical that if businesses can quickly adapt their core capabilities to a different function, then so can people.
Take Ford, for example, who shifted their activity from making cars to making ventilators. When front-line help was needed in hospitals, many roles were filled by cabin crew staff trained in basic emergency aid – an initiative that took place not only in the UK, but also in Sweden. When a call went out for social care workers across London, displaced retail and hospitality business staff were sought after for their customer service abilities that could be applied in a care setting.
As part of the new phase of post-Covid support, a one-to-one scheme will focus on getting those who have been unemployed for less than three months back to work. As the Chancellor observed, the longer people are away from work, the more their skills begin to fade. Yet there’s an opportunity here, not only to get people back to work, but to reinvigorate business at its core while cutting away the flab.
Bringing in people with transferable skills, new ideas and fresh perspectives is a great way to do this. Businesses often get entrenched in one mode of thinking, even when that thinking is outdated and no longer productive. However, the key driver for a business isn’t just its offering, but its people, and their ability to keep that offering relevant.
As businesses feel their way forward in an altered market, it’s likely that many roles may start off on a temporary basis to test the water. Contractors are already valued for their ability to bring independent skills and new blood to a project. This signals a prime opportunity for contractors to think carefully about how their expertise can be utilised in sectors they might not have previously worked in. This process is a great exercise in thinking outside the box, and with a bit of polishing, it will make a great basis for any pitch.
It’s also worth remembering that recycling your skills so that they align with gaps in the market isn’t just an opportunity for businesses, but for candidates too. It’s often the case that people end up working in certain industries by default rather than design, with habit rather than preference keeping them there. It’s often said that when one door closes, another one opens. Recycling your skills in a different industry, particularly while there are initiatives on hand to help, could be an opportunity to try working in an industry that’s a better fit for you.
If you’re looking for a new role, read up on how to win the best contracts post-Covid, and check out our virtual interview tips to make sure you’re all set to go. ContractingWISE have access to a wide range of hassle-free services that can help you with setting up a limited company or finding the right umbrella company for you. To talk to a member of our team, call: 0203 642 8679