Winning the War for Talent in 2023

Key Insights from our Workplace Training Report 2023 How to use training and development to retain and attract the best talent

2023 sees another set of disruptive challenges keeping HR leaders firmly at the centre of defining and executing organisational strategy. Our new research, conducted by Opinium Research, for our Workplace Training Report 2023 has revealed UK companies are facing a turbulent time when it comes to recruiting and retaining the workforce they need.


The war for talent

With 1.2 million job vacancies open, skills shortages are becoming more evident than ever. Retaining emerging talent is becoming more difficult than ever, and organisations need to act before it becomes a significant problem. With so many companies looking for the top talent, your highest performers have their pick of opportunities, and you need to work to ensure your business is the best place for their career development.

Skills shortages are escalating in all industry areas, with the problem looking like it may reach crisis point in particular industries, including science, engineering, healthcare and hospitality. Winning the war for talent means focusing on your people and delivering what they need to remain motivated and loyal. Let’s explore the main challenges organisations face in fighting to keep hold of their top talent.

Addressing the labour shortage exacerbated by Coronavirus and Brexit

Skills gaps have always been a concern for organisations and their L&D departments. However, the skills shortages faced today have been exacerbated like never before by the pandemic and the impact of Brexit on the movement of people. Businesses are in desperate need of employees across all competency levels. Job-specific skills and higher levels of technical skills are in demand. Competition for skilled people across all industries and sectors is only becoming fiercer. With the changes implemented by Brexit, it is harder and more expensive to recruit from outside the UK.

The British Chambers of Commerce 2022 Business Barometer report found 72% of employers say that the impact of skills shortages has increased the workload on other staff, and 78% are seeing reduced output, profitability and growth as an after-effect. Not only is your business at risk if you are understaffed or underskilled, your people are at risk of suffering excess stress and even burnout. 

The answer is developing employees from within the business and maximising the potential of the talent you have at your disposal. Businesses can access high-quality training solutions by using their government-funding apprenticeship levy and implementing levy apprenticeship programmes. Reskilling your existing workforce and providing them with a direct route to progression within your company will lessen the chance of them moving on to a new employer.

The skills your business needs will be specific to your industry, but the data and digital skills gap has been well-publicised for a reason. Upskilling in this area is crucial if UK businesses want to keep up with global competition and equip their people with the skills necessary to succeed.

How do you build a reliable talent pipeline during a war for talent?

Talent pipelines are understandably not as full as they once were, and attracting high-quality new prospects is difficult. Companies need to turn to their existing talent and empower them with the abilities and skills they’d look for in new employees and help them achieve their career goals.

Holding onto your top talent is about more than the salary you offer. Our Skills Development report found 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. No company can afford to lose its employees in the current climate. Many other companies are just waiting for your most talented people to apply.

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. High vacancy rates and labour shortages mean now is the optimal time to invest in the talent you already have and maximise their potential.

Make early talent programmes integral to your development strategy

Investing in early talent is essential to creating a UK workforce with the soft and technical skills required for a transformative workplace. Young people are becoming disillusioned with university and the costs that come with full-time study. Instead, they are looking for employers with structured and exciting development programmes that offer them the chance to learn and build a successful career.

The ISE Student Development Survey 2022 correctly states: “There has never been a greater need to invest in early talent development programmes. High vacancy rates, low unemployment, and decreasing participation are all creating a shortage of talent for employers. A strong, retained, early talent pipeline is how employers can help meet their future needs.” Your business can act accordingly by utilising its levy funding and offering inviting and effective development programmes to attract young talent and keep them focused on their career growth within your business.

With young people questioning the best step forward, degree apprenticeships offer an inviting alternative to academia, allowing people to develop their careers, earn as they go and learn invaluable new skills.

Position degree apprenticeships as an inviting career option

Degree apprenticeships do not receive the same coverage or attention as traditional routes to degree-level qualifications. Many younger employees do not have the information or understanding of how degree apprenticeship can benefit them. Employers also do not recognise how valuable this type of workplace training is for benefitting the business and the individual. General concerns around degree apprenticeships include a belief amongst young people that they are limited to certain industries and that they are not well advertised, making it difficult to see the opportunity available to them.

However, there is a shift towards young people recognising university does not necessarily equipping individuals for the world of work. Work readiness is more important to people as they recognise its importance in tough economic times. 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. 

Our Degree Apprenticeship programmes are delivered by Corndel College London and give employers a fully tailored development programme to suit their workforce. Employees have the chance to develop a comprehensive and relevant set of skills they can put immediately into practice as they work alongside their studies. We partner with employers to deliver exceptional degree apprenticeships that build in-demand skills for new and current employees with high potential. Our Degree Apprenticeship programmes are fully funded by the apprenticeship levy and allow you to upskill your workforce or develop newly recruited talent without additional costs.

In an era where people can leave one job and find a new one the next day, your organisation needs to offer something unique and enticing to keep hold of the best talent.