Recruitment in Emerging Talent is an ever-changing field. For many years, it has been dominated by apprenticeships and the graduate market – both with their own idiosyncrasies. In recent years, a number of factors have provided the backdrop for significant change, and it is clear that technology is going to play a bigger and bigger role in the future.
Firstly, the market for Emerging Talent is evolving as the UK’s labour market reaches near full employment. Latest figures show the lowest unemployment in over 40 years and the highest number of unfilled vacancies since records began. Employers report an acute skills shortage, with the CIPD calling it a ‘supply shock’.
When unemployment was higher and there were fewer opportunities, employers – often influenced by apprenticeship providers or recruiters – could afford to offer low paid roles as a way in to work. In addition, because of the high volume of applications, the service levels delivered to candidates did not have to be that great.
The apprenticeship levy has also driven a change in behaviour by employers. Led by forward looking professional services businesses, more and more organisations are using school leaver programmes as a way of attracting a more diverse group of applicants who can be trained ‘the right way’ from day #1. This is in part a recognition that reliance on a limited number of University Campuses is not a route to a diverse workforce, and also a recognition that the apprenticeship levy is providing a route for professional, degree level qualifications for school leavers without the substantial levels of graduate debt.
As this shift from favoured alumni to inclusive school leavers takes place, it creates very different pressures on recruitment organisations. It is no longer possible to arrange 10 visits to favoured institutions; instead an inclusive strategy that reaches thousands of geographically spread potential applicants is required. This approach is, of course, not uncommon in the more general world of recruitment, and there is an increasing cross over in the techniques being used.
Indeed, it is this shift that is driving increased expectations of the Emerging Talent environment; where once apprenticeship recruitment was an unwritten part of the training department’s job, with the advent of the levy, apprenticeship recruitment is often now being managed by organisations’ recruitment teams. These teams have high expectations of their external partners in the recruitment process, from insight into the recruitment marketplace through to the candidate journey, many of which have not historically been available in Emerging Talent.
Technology #1 – Applicant Tracking Systems
To deliver against expectations, technology can play an important role. At the heart of all professional recruitment teams sites an Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). These platforms allow candidates’ profiles, applications and communications to be stored, managed and used effectively. This is a significant move away from the practices we have seen in apprenticeship recruitment, where it was simply enough to send over 20 CVs.
At the other end of the spectrum, large organisations that try to force emerging talent candidates to jump through the hoops of their existing ATS platforms are seeing significant drop our rates. School leavers simply aren’t able to answer questions about their previous experience or which ‘schools’ they gained their degree from, so drop out rates can be 80%+, most often in the diverse target groups that are the focus on the recruitment programmes.
Technology #2 – Integrated Digital Communications
As Emerging Talent shifts away from campus-based activities, integrated candidate communications play an increasingly important role. Instead of a physical presence, a digital hub that provides information, case studies and application routes is required. This hub also integrates with social media and other digital campaigns to attract and nurture potential applicants. Effective use of these techniques allows the talent pipeline to be managed way in advance of an application date. By understanding the demographics of those that are opening, reading and visiting a digital home, it is possible to deliver the widest possible talent pool.
Technology #3 – Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence is not new, but the availability of increased storage and processing power means that large datasets are increasingly being used to train computers to undertake time consuming activities. In terms of recruitment, this means that the processing of candidates, or even the pro-active search of applicant pools can be carried out by AI, freeing recruiters up to focus on other stages of the process. Like all new technologies, AI is far from perfect, but it is a tool that we are likely to see more of in the coming years.
So, technology is going to play an increasingly important role in the recruitment of emerging talent. If used without thought, then the technology has the potential to create barriers and reduce reach to potential candidates. When used effectively, not only will it extend reach and engagement, but will provide the kind of diverse talent base that businesses will need to succeed in the 21st Century.