Insight, Learning & Development

The UK’s “Great Resignation”: Could training and development opportunities be the answer?

13 October 2021

The UK is facing the highest number of vacancies in recorded history, with available job posts surpassing 1,000,000 for the first time in July 2021. A study by HR software firm Personio found 38 per cent of employees planned to quit their job within the next six months to a year, and the BBC reports that since the pandemic, employees are leaving the workforce or switching jobs in droves. This has created a candidate-led market, and a big problem for employers.

Dubbed the “Great Resignation”, employees are recognising how easy it is to move to newer, more promising roles at different companies, especially with working from home still being so prevalent. Someone can finish at a company on a Friday evening, have a new laptop delivered, and start a new job on Monday morning without leaving home. Employers need to combat this with retention strategies that work.

Many job applicants now have a wealth of opportunities – it’s clear more needs to be done to attract potential employees to individual businesses, as well as retain existing talent.

The O.C. Tanner Institute’s Global Culture Report 2022 found nearly 50% of UK employees feel underappreciated at work, so it is natural for them to look for new opportunities. A core component of both recruitment and retainment is offering a clear strategy for growth, the tools for career development and opportunities to prosper. With so many opportunities open to them, people can ‘shop around’ for their next career move and it is up to employers to do more to keep hold of their best talent.

Tackling the challenge of a candidate-led market

People looking for their next career move have a wide range of options open to them - the job market has skewed in favour of the employee. There is an increased number of vacancies as well as flexibility within these vacancies - many are offering remote working and flexible hours so employees can pick and choose what is most suitable for their lifestyle and personal circumstances. Coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns have given people the chance to evaluate their life and work choices and many people are ready for a change. Vice-President of Document Cloud Product Marketing at Adobe, Todd Gerber, asserts: “Employee experiences have been challenged since before the pandemic. Employees have wanted their workplace experiences to mirror the seamless, flexible experiences in their personal lives”. It’s clear the average candidate expects more freedom and flexibility in their working life and employers need to offer this.

More candidates with specialised skills are recognising the importance of these skills and, crucially, their value. Worldskills UK reports that 60% of businesses believe that their reliance on advanced digital skills will increase in the next five years. No business can afford to be left behind but bridging the digital skills gap should not necessarily mean overrunning your staffing budget. The right skills development opportunities and training mean employees can get up to speed in all things digital for your business and improve the personal skillset too.

To succeed in a candidate-led market, employers need to ensure they’re offering something attractive and appealing to all potential applicants. Your company should be visible across all platforms and sharing as much positive information as possible is essential. When you come across a candidate who ticks all the boxes then it is important to act fast and get them on board. Do not underestimate the importance of culture and brand in a busy job market.

Why training is integral to retention, recruitment, and your brand

Employee retention is highly dependent on giving your workforce the tools to grow and succeed. Employees who feel they have no room for growth quickly become demotivated. “Training is a key retention tool,” says Nick Russell, associate director at The Work Foundation. “It is part of the employee's psychological contract of employment - ensuring that they get the opportunity to develop and improve their skills.” Not all employees see their future in management, but a tailored approach to training and development means that a simple project management task or the chance to further their training in a particular area of interest can reinvigorate and motivate an apathetic employee.

Training and development are key drivers in keeping your best talent committed to your business. In our research, we found 84% of clients consider learning and development programmes an effective tool for reducing high turnover rates and retaining good employees. A lot of employees simply need some direction and focus within their working day, or the opportunity to see their progression clearly to find their motivation and commitment to your brand.

Apprenticeships are increasingly popular with employers looking to offer existing employees the chance to develop their skillset or take their career in a new direction. The Open University Build the Future Apprenticeship Survey (2021) found 70% of employers believe that apprenticeships and work-based learning will be vital to their recovery from COVID disruption, a figure that was just 50% in 2020. Employers are beginning to realise the value of additional training and making the most of the talent they have. This is especially important in a market where other opportunities could tempt employees away. Employees are resigning and taking on new roles at a rate never seen before and employers need to find solutions for this. Almost all employers can access and optimise their Apprenticeship Levy in such a way to encourage current employees as well as attract new talent.

Employers can also access alternative work-based training solutions to give employees the push they need to commit to the company. It is integral employers look to create an attractive package for recruits but also ensure current employees have access to the same opportunities.’s research into what workers really want from a post-pandemic employer support this: “Career development – especially long-term opportunities – is another crucial area for businesses to invest in over the coming months, so that they’re in a position to retain employees for a sustainable period of time. This is because 70% of employed adults say that they consider long-term development opportunities available within the company when applying for a role. And almost a fifth (18%) of active jobseekers say that increased training and development opportunities would make them more likely to stay with their company.”

Do not underestimate the power of opportunity. In a world where candidates can pick and choose between job offers, do all you can to ensure yours stands out as the best.

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