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Why the current labour market calls for a new hiring strategy

Every business wants the best job candidates and it’s no secret that there’s a skills shortage in the UK that is only getting worse. More people have left the workplace than joined it in recent years, and there’s a gap that needs to be filled. While this presents businesses with a challenge, it’s also an opportunity to find and nurture new talent.

Over the coming weeks, we will be exploring employee diversity, inclusion in the hiring process, and how a change in your approach to recruitment could mean discovering hidden candidates that bring enormous long-term value to your organisation.

Some of the questions we will be answering include:

  • What are the desirable skills in the modern workplace and what makes someone employable?
  • What are the risks and barriers to hiring from a younger or more diverse pool of talent?
  • What are your measurements of hiring success and are they future proof?


First though, let’s look at how the recruitment environment has changed and why businesses need to think differently about the hiring process, in order to find hidden candidates and help a more diverse pool of talent find you as well. 


The employability pool has shrunk 

According to the Labour Market Statistics report released by the Institute for Employment Studies in March 2022 there are nearly 600,000 fewer people in work in the UK than before the pandemic. 

The report continues by saying that we also have a smaller post-pandemic population, with an estimated 1.2 million fewer people aged 16 and over than pre-pandemic – likely due to a combination of lower net migration and demographic changes. In total, they estimate “the ‘participation gap’ between current economic activity and what would have happened if pre-crisis trends had continued stands at 1.10 million.”

The reasons for having fewer people in the employability pool are complex. However, a brief synopsis takes into consideration four key points: 

  • Those who were close to retirement, who decided to leave the workplace early.
  • Growth in long-term ill health.
  • Those who opted for a shift in lifestyle having taken stock during the pandemic.
  • Migration

There’s a gap between the mature talent leaving the market and the emerging talent that needs nurturing as it enters the workforce. While there are participation gaps across the board, the industries that seem to be hit the hardest are health, social care, hospitality, professional services (scientific and technical) retail and manufacturing. 

For employers, both the challenge and opportunity comes from recognising where to find the hidden gems. That means going beyond the scope of historic recruitment practices and searching in new spaces or those not typically associated with your business. It also means showcasing yourself in a way that helps people who might ordinarily think they are not suited to your workplace to see you differently.



Hidden talent

For all the conversation about people leaving the workforce, there isn’t as much discussion around those emerging into it (aged 16 to 24). The young people who are not yet ready to hit the ground running, and perhaps don’t even have a full set of qualifications yet, but who bring enormous potential and other covetable soft skills with them.

Currently one in eight young people is neither in full-time education or work, and 12% of young women are neither in full-time education or work. Then there are the young people who chose to weather the pandemic storm by returning to full-time education. The Labour Report says that the leap was the largest and fastest in 30 years, showing an engaged cross section of potential employees who are eager to learn, but who also need to make the transition from the educational environment into the workplace to ensure their skills are relevant.

This presents an interesting opportunity for those looking to recruit young people into the workplace, but who are potentially concerned about the challenges of providing ongoing and less formal training opportunities. Digitisation has gone a long way to helping resolve that barrier to entry. In particular, it’s an area in which the Sort platform’s skills building capabilities can support employers in providing a supportive framework for young employees, as well as offering young people learning opportunities without the cost and time out of work presented by obtaining a degree.



The benefits of accessing a different talent pool

Looking to young people and a more diverse talent pool is not simply a matter of necessity for businesses. While those who are established in their careers are essential to productivity and teaching those coming into their sector by osmosis, young people also bring new skills and opportunities into the workplace.

We have spoken before about some of the stereotypes around GenZ, but also about the soft skills, entrepreneurial mindset and values that they bring. Furthermore, for businesses that are willing to create an environment that nurtures young talent, the benefits are ongoing and cumulative. It is an opportunity to develop loyal and engaged teams, to engage with a generation that is well versed and at ease with tapping into the ecosystem of talent that goes with the gig economy, and to foster relationships with the leaders of the future.

What we have found at Sort is that employers are excited about the opportunity to nurture young talent, but that many are reserved about how to achieve that without negatively impacting their businesses, especially if they have already suffered during the pandemic. For businesses, the challenge is in knowing where to look for talent, how to identify it, understanding what infrastructure is required to support young people and how to implement that framework cost-effectively. That’s where we can help.


At Sort, we help businesses achieve their commercial objectives while creating rewarding work environments for young people. Our objective is short and long-term success, for both the organisation and the employee.

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