Jul 8th 2019


HR tech is amazing equalizer in quest for diversity and inclusion Campaign Live

Pauline Oudin, Managing Partner Gradient

Tell us about one thing that’s happened recently that leads you to believe there’s still a problem.

Just a few months ago one of the young women on our team asked for a meeting and was clearly petrified when she announced the happy news of her pregnancy. What should have been a source of celebration and joy was instead a necessary moment of reassurance and deescalating. This woman had clearly proven her worth to our company, but she was still concerned for her job security and her career prospects.

We are still a growing agency, and as such, we are not obligated to offer the miserly FMLA requirements of just keeping the job open for 12 weeks. And in our creative industry, as brands seek out fresh creativity from the smaller agencies instead of the large behemoths of the past, our industry’s talent — especially the younger talent — will not have those protections previously offered by the large HR departments. So that initial fear-based reaction is understandable. But it shouldn’t be acceptable.

As it turns out, our leadership team is very family-friendly and we wanted nothing more than to support her as well as all of our future parents. We want to support women in general, and working mothers in particular, so we researched what the industry standard was, and more than doubled that! But other young growth-centric agencies may not have taken the time to think about these essential policies. And that will in turn further affect the gender diversity of the teams.

How about something that proves we’re making progress?

In the world of HR, technology can truly be an amazing equalizer. After all, even with the best of intentions, implicit biases may sneak into the resume selection of even the most well-intentioned of managers.

But thanks to the right technology tools, pre-selections based on pre-qualifying surveys and personality fit assessments, allow for a selection of the top five percent of considered candidates before we’ve even met the person or reviewed their demographics. From there, the quality of the work will be the determining factor, but we know that we’ve already brought in the very best regardless of gender, race or anything else, which is exactly how it should be.

What else needs to be done to get there?

Repetition. It might seem obvious, but no matter how much you care and no matter how much you want to do the right thing, when you are growing really fast, it’s hard to keep your softer objectives in line with hard-numbered objectives. As I see it, having clearly-stated goals and rules that are systematically repeated to management and also to the team, may be the only way to instill these habits.

Recruit from “reservoir of talent” to tackle skills shortages and improve diversity, new report saysInfrastructure Intelligence

Skills shortages and a lack of diversity in UK engineering can be overcome with a new approach by thinking about recruiting from a ‘reservoir of talent’ which is ready to learn, rather than the existing ‘leaky pipeline’, a new report says.

To drive innovation, productivity and economic growth the UK needs to prepare for the skills challenges of the coming decades. Through workshops and a rapid evidence assessment, the Talent 2050 final report explores future engineering needs in the UK for a globally-competitive skills and diversity mix.

The report recommendations consider the broader skills required in engineering roles of the future. They suggest a more inclusive approach where recruitment or enrolment is based on the potential to gain the right skills rather than prior attainment; and with careers expected to be longer recognising and providing support for upskilling and reskilling; and making use of on-line learning tools at all career stages.

Published today (8 July 2019) the report will be discussed at a roundtable meeting hosted by Barclays with representatives from industry, academia and policy-makers and at the parliamentary and scientific committee discussion meeting on STEM education and skills. Report author, Paul Jackson, said: “We heard from real engineers and found great examples of the changes that could power engineering skills in the future and how those skills are already changing dramatically. They helped us to find a reservoir of future talent that we can access but it will mean changes to education, professional registration and recruitment if we want to succeed at scale and profit from AI and the next industrial revolution.”

Dr Joe Marshall, chief executive of the National Centre for Universities and Business, said: “This report is a welcome addition to the debate about future skills needs. It highlights that together, universities, business and government can do more to equip the UK for a productive and inclusive future. To take full advantage of the UK’s reservoir of talent, upskilling, reskilling and mobility between sectors needs to be fully supported and integrated in an industrial strategy that embraces interdisciplinary working.”

Hannah Vickers, chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering, said: “The evolution of our service offering and of our business models, will in turn alter the skills profile of the workforce we employ as businesses. This report highlights a number of challenges ahead, and solutions through greater retraining opportunities and mobility across disciplines. The sooner we face these, the faster we can build upon the UK’s world-class expertise.

“As businesses, tapping into the reservoir of talent will be critical to our future success, and through its Future of Consultancy campaign, ACE will be supporting businesses in this. We now need a partnership from academia and the professional bodies in developing students and staff to become the engineers of the future.”

Nearly 1 million temporary workers locked out of government’s apprenticeship scheme, Independent Olesya Dmitracova

Trade body calls on ministers to allow 960,000 temps into flagship training programme

A recruiters’ trade body is calling on the government to open up the apprenticeship levy scheme to temporary workers, saying such reform could help plug skills gaps, and raise productivity and wages.

Around 960,000 temporary workers, accounting for 98 per cent of people on short-term contracts employed through an agency, cannot access training through the levy because their assignments do not last the required minimum of 12 months for an apprenticeship, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has found.

The REC estimates that more than 670 of its member firms pay around £110m into the levy each year but are unable to use most of that money. Almost half of the recruitment agencies polled by the trade body have been unable to spend any of the funds.

“We must end the scandal of locking temporary workers out of the system,” REC chief executive Neil Carberry said in a statement on Monday.

“There are skills shortages in areas that training temps using levy funds could help to address, like hospitality, and health and social care.”

Other hard-to-fill jobs that would benefit from a reformed levy include the positions of teaching assistant, forklift truck driver and engineering manager, according to the REC.

Zooming in on a sector with some of the UK’s most acute labour shortages, a recruiter pointed out that a lot of people want to become a carer but can’t afford to do the training. Her firm can’t use its £30,000 yearly levy funds for its temporary staff, said Robyn Holmes, founder and managing director of recruitment agency Prime Appointments.

Under the two-year-old scheme, employers with a wage bill of over £3m a year must pay an equivalent of 0.5 per cent of that bill to HMRC. They can then access those funds and spend them on apprenticeships in England. Any funds that remain untapped after two years expire.

Even those temporary workers whose contracts do last more than a year are not eligible for levy-funded apprenticeships if they spend less than 20 per cent of their working time on training.

According to the REC, this requirement is “at odds with the very reasons for using agency workers” who are hired primarily to meet peaks in demand and cover absences.

Despite efforts such as the levy, in force since 2017, the REC said the UK remains below the EU average on the proportion of GDP spent on training and education, the proportion of employees accessing training and spending per employee on training courses.