Skills in Reserve

ASK any employer, large or small, what is their biggest challenge and barrier to growth, and I am fairly certain the answer will come back loud and clear: – skills shortages. Businesses report constantly on the difficulties of recruiting staff with relevant skills to fill vacancies, and in re-training, and retaining staff with other skills which could be adapted to suit. All sectors are struggling but in particular hospitality, IT, construction and engineering have reached the critical point where the lack of high quality staff is impacting severely on the ability to compete effectively in an increasingly cut-throat market place.

The hospitality industry points the finger at Brexit, where uncertainties over residency have had a huge impact on the 700,000 strong immigrant workforce forming the backbone of the British Hospitality Industry. Others blame falling standards in education, claiming many youngsters lack the basic literacy, numeracy and communication skills required to make them attractive to employers. And then there is the perceived lack of work ethic…

So what is it employers are actually looking for in these elusive prospective employees? A number of surveys list the top 10 “soft” skills that employers want, alongside the required ability to do the job, or to be trained to do the job. On average, the top ten requirements are:

  • Teamwork
  • Decision making
  • Problem Solving
  • Planning
  • Communication
  • Self-motivation
  • Time management
  • Leadership
  • Drive
  • Confidence

A tall order? Perhaps, but one which can be met by a silent army – and navy, and air force – of men and women who have these requirements - and more. Our ex-forces and serving Reservists provide employers with the opportunity to recruit some of the most highly skilled personnel in Scotland, who bring with them a vast skill set and varied experiences of working under all kinds of pressure. The skills acquired as part of their military service are eminently transferable to civilian employment: chefs, medics, drivers, HR specialists, administrators, project managers…the list goes on. And it isn’t just previous skills which make them much sought after employees. Reservists have access to up to £8,000 worth of ongoing training per year to keep them up to speed on the latest developments in their area of expertise. This training costs employers nothing, but the benefits ripple across the whole workforce.

To return to our oft maligned young people, employers should also be turning their recruiting eyes to the future and working with our thousands of cadets, who are already well on their way to having the top 10 required skills under their belts. These youngsters – and the adult volunteers who make the cadets viable - understand self-reliance, discipline, teamwork and commitment producing confident young adults who will be knocking on employers’ doors over the next few years. As 2018 heralds the Year of Young People, what better time to be encouraging your staff to engage with cadets or consider becoming adult volunteers for a few hours a week? An investment in the future which could put you ahead of the competition!