Will Shepherd, CEO, Cohesion

The Early Talent market is changing and becoming increasingly competitive. In fact, in 2017, the number of students planning to go to university fell to its lowest level in 8 years. Companies are having to adapt and evolve to this changing marketplace where competition and demands are high.

When it comes to making changes, increasing Early Talent Diversity represents both a priority and a significant challenge for many businesses. Diversity within an organisation is about encouraging a wholly-inclusive workforce – embracing employees of different backgrounds, ethnicities and cultural beliefs.

Yet, Early Talent Diversity runs much deeper. It’s about recruiting people from different backgrounds and making your application process accessible to all groups who embrace different perspectives, ideologies and beliefs about how and why things work the way they do.

Its about bringing different ideas and opinions together within your organisation and allowing them to work cohesively towards common business goals.

Adding value through diversity

Part of the motivation for a company wanting to increase Early Talent Diversity comes in understanding of how it truly adds value to the core business. There is a number of concomitant benefits of a diverse Early Talent workforce which many businesses are surprisingly unaware of, including;

  • Increased productivity, work rate & efficiency; in fact 72% of private sector companies said there was a direct link between diversity and productivity
  • Innovative thinking; through alternative perspectives and ideas on the same issue
  • Positive employer branding; once diversity begins to increase, it becomes easier to attract a more diverse pool of candidates
  • Giving your business the competitive edge; diversity enhances the competitiveness of your business both within your workforce and as an organisation
  • Reduction in employee turnover; when compared to pre-diversity statistics
  • Increased employee morale & teamwork

Without a doubt, diversity is and should be an organisational priority. As an employer, it will be necessary to implement recruitment strategies and initiatives to help you achieve your diversity goals. But, given all of the above, it would seem crazy that a company wouldn’t invest resource and time into developing their Early Talent diversity.

What can be done to attract Early Talent diversity?

There is a huge pool of talent in schools and colleges and these students need to be considered in order to create a more diverse workplace. Talking to students early on and engaging with them, will create an interest in careers that they may not previously have considered.

Engaging with new audiences mean a wider talent pool, and a step towards creating a more diverse workforce, as well as combatting the skills shortage that many industries are currently facing.

If students have a great experience with an organisation at any stage, it increases the likelihood of employees returning again later. For example, a successful work experience completion can lead to an apprentice application, and an application to work full time within the business.

We would also recommend making apprenticeships more attractive to candidates, and support teachers to feel confident when advising young people towards an apprenticeship.

In 2011, a survey by YouGov discovered that 46% of students aged 14-16 had received no information about an apprenticeship.

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Another option could be offering workplace taster days, as this will enable candidates to learn and discover more about different industries.

Companies can craft media content and public policy to combat industry stereotypes, for example the social care and construction industries are both sectors where gender stereotyping is still in place, social care is seen as a predominately female sector and a career in construction is often stereotyped as a ‘man’s job’. By crafting content that potential candidates see on an organisation’s website or within the career pages it would encourage a more diverse workforce.

Ultimately, organisations want to reach out to the best candidates, regardless of gender and class, and the recruitment process should be designed to discover and appeal to whoever this is.

Organisations need to reach all potential applicants and make them aware of the opportunities open to them. If there is a demographic that a certain industry is struggling to reach, they can put more appropriate measures in place to extend this reach, and engage with the right people who can encourage a more diverse workforce.

Will Shepherd, CEO, Cohesion

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