The skills gap. It might be wider than you think.

‘Skills gap’, ’skills shortage’, whatever label you put on it the meaning is all too clear. There is a difference between the skills on offer and those in demand. Chambers member Rachel Blackburn has an interesting perspective on the issue.

Rachel is the founder, and Director, of US2U Consulting Ltd. She says she has  ‘a great team of loyal, hardworking people who are passionate about working together to deliver a wide range of projects for clients as diverse as recruitment, corporate films, 360 degree feedback, psychometric assessment, leadership development and organisational change’. The challenge is, she says,  ‘to find someone with the skills, credibility, motivation and energy to help me proactively grow the business in the UK and internationally’.

The  reality is that the perception of the ‘skills shortage’ is that it exists in the more practical areas. We hear all too often about the engineering firms or the construction companies who have a clear vision and and a healthy order book but are struggling to deliver because they can’t find people who can actually do the necessary skilled work. 

US2U Consulting Ltd are not exactly without skills. Renowned for high standards and genuinely making a positive difference to their clients’ businesses they are a twenty first century business. Rooted in the marketing concept that ‘you can only sell needs’ they have an unashamedly ‘can do’ attitude.

Ask her about her business in the current climate and it’s no surprise that Rachel says it’s about continuing to ‘support a diverse range of businesses and organisations when we have more variables than usual to consider because of Brexit uncertainty’.

And yet, Rachel’s challenge is to find people to help grow the business in the UK and overseas.

What this highlights is that sometimes an organisation can deliver the work, get on with the job and meet its clients’ needs because it has all those skills in place. It’s the skills needed to gain that next bit of growth, develop that next stage of strategy that are needed next. Which is somewhat counter intuitive to the popular perception of the skills gap.

There’s no lack of determination. Rachel remembers being told in an interview, in the 1980s, that she was the ‘wrong sex and colour’ for the job. She’s put that lamentable judgement to shame, and succeeded. But even she will admit that, sometimes, a business needs more input, more ideas and more innovation to get to the next goal.

Beware then. Take a look at your own organisation. It might just be that your skills gap isn’t where you thought it was. And it might be wider than you thought.

We’d love to hear your views on the issues facing business today. If you want your thoughts expressed in this column let us know.

e mail haze.carver@norfolkchamber.co.uk

This article can also be found on page 7, in Wednesday 12 June, 2019 EDP The Business.

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