Driving diversity in the 2021 reskill revolution

Written by Norma Gillespie, CEO  •  Diversity  •  30 June 2021

The past six months have provided us with the opportunity to recalibrate and reimagine the ways in which we work and to ensure that we can continue to make a positive impact for our clients, stakeholders and society as a whole.  

Undoubtedly the biggest shake up this past year has been the outlook on remote working and the future of the workplace itself, along with the buzz word of 2021 ‘reskilling’, and focus on diversity.

Six months into 2021, and as the newly appointed CEO at Resource Solutions, my focus has been on developing a culture that is built on inclusivity and innovation. I strongly believe that, as a business, we should lead by example. We follow the same policies and practices on diversity and inclusion that we advise our clients on, and we are constantly seeking to enhance our technology stack, intelligence offering and advisory services in order to ensure that we are anticipating and responding to the market and industry developments, and matching our clients evolving needs. 

In June, the number of employees within the UK increased for the sixth consecutive month to 28.5 million. Permanent vacancies in the UK were also up 116% compared with May last year, while contract openings rose by 120%*. We’ve also seen job vacancies within the UK financial services sector at their highest levels since before the pandemic, recording an increase of over 275%* in April 21 compared with the same month last year.  

It has been brilliant to see the job market respond in this way, and I am extremely excited about how well placed we are to support new and existing clients as they continue to grow and develop their teams.  The market is awash with candidates seeking to redeploy valuable skills and experience in new and different environments. There are talented, hardworking and motivated people, everywhere, ready to make a difference. Their circumstances could have changed during the pandemic, or they may want to take on a new challenge. They have the aptitude to succeed, and the desire to learn at speed. And we’re determined to help them to do so. 

The UK Government expressed a concern earlier in the year that we will face a widespread skills shortage across the economy by 2030, potentially resulting in around 20%** of the labour market lacking the requisite skills. A key focus of ours has, therefore, been to support clients and candidates with re-skilling and up-skilling. This was one of the reasons why we set up our Accelerate programme earlier this year.

Accelerate’s goal is to identify those who possess the aptitude and ability to upskill and  meet our client’s organisational needs – even if they lack industry experience or formal qualifications. Accelerate places skills at the forefront of the hiring process by using initial assessments designed to showcase technical aptitude, therefore increasing accessibility and removing hiring bias regarding experience.  

In June 2021, our first cohort of candidates passed their 8 weeks of training and were prepared to go onto deployment with our clients. Many of our clients have been actively supporting this initiative, and I’m delighted that it’s been so well received.  

In addition to Accelerate, we are also relaunching our return-to-work programme; Rejoin. Rejoin is more than a talent pool – it’s a community, where we support, inspire and provide the tools for experienced people who have taken a career break to get back into work.

Just under a third (31%***) of women said they found it hard to reacclimatise to working life following a long career break. And men too have reported it can be an overwhelming process. That’s why we have built a partner network of long standing businesses and experts to help train, lift and educate our candidates, arming them with the skills and mindset to feel prepared and ready to return to work; a particularly daunting process presently as working practices have changed significantly for many businesses as a result of the pandemic.  

Furthermore, and just as importantly, we have sought to build the skills and capabilities of our own team. As part of the Robert Walters Group, we have remained committed to offering our people long-term careers, and since the start of the pandemic, the Group has promoted 498 employees, 56% of which were women. Through retaining the best talent, we are better able to build a loyal client and candidate base for our business, ensuring lasting, sustainable growth.

We strongly believe that in order to deliver the best workforce and advisory solutions, we need to employ the top talent in the market. And we have done just that. I was delighted to announce our expansion in North America last month, as well numerous senior appointments across our global business. The experience, energy, and local market knowledge of our team has driven success so far in 2021. With much more in the pipeline for the rest of the year, we are well placed to grow further still. 

I would like to thank all of our client’s for their continued support, and everyone at Resource Solutions for their dedication and hard work. Onwards.  

*APSCo, 2021

**UK Government Industrial strategy council

***Vodafone, 2021

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