Optimise your Talent Strategy in 2023

Preparing for changes in the workforce landscape

Key Insights from our Workplace Training Report 2023 Optimising Your Talent Strategy in 2023

The UK’s skills shortage is not a new revelation. For some businesses, it’s becoming more of a challenge as other factors impact the ability to recruit and retain emerging and future talent. Government research found that 13.3% of surveyed businesses reported a shortage of workers in November 2022. This shortage of workers is further compounded by businesses not necessarily having workers already equipped with the skills needed.


1.2 million job vacancies reported by the Office for National Statistics can't be filled

Future-proofing your workforce and talent development strategy is challenging in the current economic climate. Changes to immigration policy and tougher guidelines for bringing in overseas workers mean UK businesses are struggling to fill the 1.2 million current job vacancies reported by the Office for National Statistics. Our Workplace Training Report 2023 found many factors are influencing their learning and development strategies, with growing economic uncertainty mentioned by 75% of all surveyed respondents. Combining these factors in an ever-changing workforce landscape means businesses have to think creatively and be proactive in their approach to the future of talent.

UK skills gaps remain unanswered

Rather than minimising skills gaps in UK businesses, for many sectors, the gaps are widening. Organisations need to find effective ways to identify and manage any skills gaps within their teams and recognise how skills need to evolve to satisfy the needs of the current market. The demand at present varies from business to business and is undoubtedly exacerbated by recent challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact of the invasion of Ukraine. 

Our Workplace Training Report 2023 found that HR leaders believe the pandemic highlighted the most significant skills shortages in their organisations, with the largest areas being hybrid working management skills (36%), flexible working management skills (36%) and data/digital skills (34%). While the hybrid nature of the workplace is less dominant than during the pandemic, this is still a key area of concern for organisations and links to the need to develop both human and technical skills across the workforce, allowing people to thrive in the modern workplace. McKinsey gives a great example of blended learning journeys as a powerful part of developing human and technical skills, describing the need for “blended learning journeys that focus on the employee’s experience and create deliberate “back to human,” or people-centric, moments.”

Their research shows that a multichannel approach which allows for a combination of virtual content and in-person training, is the most effective way to deliver effective human and technical skills development. McKinsey further asserts that: “many organisations have refocused their leadership development efforts on building out their culture of learning, growth, and feedback by teaching leaders to become great coaches. And it is in these organisations—with a culture of lifelong learning—reskilling at scale is most likely to be successful.”

To bridge the skills gap within your organisation, you need to approach the problem in a way that meets the learning needs of your people whilst also keeping up with the changing demand of the business world. This is entirely possible, at no additional cost to your learning and development budget, by accessing your apprenticeship levy. You can use your levy to offer apprenticeship programmes to upskill and reskill your talent.

Be ready for tomorrow with a robust talent pipeline

One of the defining features of the most successful businesses is their ability to adapt and be resilient to change. Their approach to learning, development and talent acquisition focuses on always ensuring a future leader is being developed and mentored for their next role and career development.

Several factors are necessary to create a reliable and robust talent pipeline, and no organisation can afford to neglect this element of their recruitment process, especially with skills shortages and labour shortages dominating the economy.

Develop a reliable and effective talent pipeline

Investing in early talent is vital for your business, embracing the digital and data transformation at the heart of the working world. Supporting younger employees requires a different approach, but learning and development should be at the heart of this. We found that 76% of employees aged 18-34 would consider leaving if their employer did not provide professional development guidance, with 68% doing so in the next two years. High vacancy rates and labour shortages mean now is the optimal time to invest in the talent you already have and maximise their potential.

Position degree apprenticeships as a viable career option

Many younger employees do not know about or have the necessary information to benefit from a degree apprenticeship. Some employers must recognise how valuable this type of workplace training and development is and the benefits for the business and the individual. 

Only a fifth (18%) of young people surveyed believe that university will equip them with all the skills needed, while the remaining two-thirds (69%) think that it will be either most or some of the skills required for their career. General concerns around degree apprenticeships include a belief amongst young people that they are limited to specific industries and are not well advertised. This need for more advertisement is mainly compared to university courses and degrees, which many believe are better promoted.

Despite this, younger employees recognise that the academic route to qualifications is not necessarily the most cost-effective or most likely to lead to a rewarding career. Degree apprenticeships are viable and will nurture and develop the skills needed for a promising career.

Retain young and promising talent

Organisations cannot expect employees to be happy in their roles and not look for other opportunities if it is better available elsewhere. Organisations must consider the incentives and benefits available to their employees and look at ways to add more value to their offerings. Additional perks such as structured professional development, flexible working options, digital-first approaches to the workplace and employee wellbeing initiatives are all looked upon positively by younger employees looking to find a company to grow with.

How to attract in an age of inflation

Ensuring your most valuable future talent remains within your organisation and attracting new prospects where necessary involves a structured and intensive approach. McKinsey’s eight imperatives to reimagine people development offer a blueprint for future-proofing your people strategy.

Organisations must prioritise development and focus on skills over roles. Developing human and technical skills will allow people to succeed in every aspect of their role and create greater cohesion between departments. You must use data to understand and analyse your skills gaps and create development programmes for your business-specific needs. Personalised learning and using technologies to prioritise and promote learning opportunities are also integral to an effective strategy. 

Explore our leadership and management programmes below. Fully funded by your apprenticeship levy: