THE BLOG

Mind the Gap: Talent and Skills Shortages Across UK Businesses

23/08/2013 16:29 BST | Updated 23/10/2013 10:12 BST

Recent news of a drain on talent caused by 400 British citizens emigrating every day just goes to underline the fact that, if UK Plc. Is to remain competitive in the global marketplace, UK businesses need to start putting the issue of talent planning and talent development higher on the business agenda.

A survey we conducted on the issue revealed that this drain is already having a noticeable effect on UK businesses, with significant talent and skills shortages seen at all levels across UK organisations, despite the current competitive nature of the jobs market.

97% of senior HR professionals we surveyed did not think that their organisation had all the talent it needed to be successful and 95% reported skills gaps. Meanwhile, if the story about the emigration figures is to be believed, many people who are currently in employment are not being successfully utilised, challenged or managed, leading to a lack of engagement. So there's lots of work to be done.

Talent is still not being considered a high priority by many senior executives and is not being made integral to business strategy. Our survey found that over half (52%) of HR professionals said that the senior executives at their organisations did not have a shared understanding of what talent meant, while 63% did not a have a published talent management strategy. Of those who did have strategies in place, 84% felt these were not completely aligned with their business strategy and only 26% measured the business impact of their talent management programmes and initiatives.

The prevalence of such poorly managed talent pipelines amongst UK businesses was also reflected in the gaps our survey identified. Respondents reported gaps in suitable people at all job levels, from first line, to middle management, right through to senior management. This suggests businesses are clearly not identifying and prioritising the pre-existing talent within their organisations correctly.

What's more, the highest percentages of skills gaps were identified as leadership capability (69% of those surveyed felt their organisation was missing skills in this area), performance management (56%) and people skills (55%). One of the common factors leading to gaps like these is employees being promoted to management roles without being given the right training or experience to progress - a problem which could be easily resolved through proper planning and the implementation of structured people development strategies.

People are one of an organisation's most valuable assets, and having the right people in post is crucial to business success. Senior executives must start to collaborate more effectively with their HR colleagues to agree a shared vision of what 'good' looks like and to pull together joined up talent strategies which both examine the current gaps in their companies and complement their existing business strategy.

Holding executives responsible for the quality of their people is critical to an organisation's performance. Talent should be the responsibility of the whole business; it is too important a resource to be confined to one department. While HR takes the lead, the whole organisation - and particularly senior management - should be invested in getting this right for overall success. There's much room for improvement and no overnight fix, but businesses who take the issue of talent management seriously will be the ones to reap the rewards in years to come.