Sarah Burns, Managing Director, GPRS Recruitment

In simple terms: yes! 

The recent GPRS Salary & Benefits Survey highlighted a skills shortage within further education caused mostly by an increase in the number of candidates leaving the sector completely in the past couple of years.

Those of you who have been recruiting new staff will have recognised that the pool of suitably qualified candidates has diminished considerably leading to an increasingly competitive landscape for both recruiting and retaining employees within the sector.

Following an intense data cleanse for GDPR compliance, GPRS Recruitment are in the enviable position of being able to reveal the reasons why so many talented Trainers and Managers have left the sector completely:

  • “I’ve been subjected to too many redundancies due to no fault of my own, I need stability and a regular income”
  • “My last two employers went bust owing me wages and expenses, not prepared to take another risk”
  • “I’m struggling to find new employment as my CV makes me look like a job hopper, none of it my fault”
  • “Training doesn’t pay as well, so gone back to my old job”
  • “Too much travel”

These comments represent the predominant reasons we were given by our training candidates when surveyed, and I’m sure come as no surprise to many Managers within the sector.

OK so they’ve gone, how do we replace them?

As far as I can see we have two options: invest in a trainee or employ people who have been out of the sector for a few years. Both pathways have their own pros and cons, but don’t all new hires have an element of risk?

At GPRS Recruitment we receive many calls and emails from people asking how to get into the industry as a trainee or maybe they have self-funded their training qualifications and are still unable to secure even an interview. If we are unable to match them to a suitable vacancy we try to offer the best advice we can and direct them to relevant online resources in the hope that they will not give in trying to achieve their desired goal.

It pleases me to report that some of our current clients are very open to growing their own talent and, month on month, the opportunities available to the wannabe trainer is increasing, however, a large majority of employers in the sector are still seeking that perfect 10/10 and are left wondering why the hiring process is taking so long.

One of the first questions we ask our prospective candidates is “Have you delivered New Standards?” If the answer is no, we too often have the uncomfortable task of informing them that they are not suitable to be put forward for the role they have applied for. We are currently working with a couple of clients who are more flexible with their requirements regarding delivery and are happy to upskill people with heaps of assessing experience on the old frameworks, but in our experience they are in the minority.

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A lot of these candidates understand that they need further training and are willing and able to put in the additional work in order to update their knowledge, whether this be further training, shadowing or even taking a reduced salary but unfortunately the feedback that we are receiving is that they are applying for roles but not reaching interview stage.

Moving forward as an industry, we need to work together to entice and support the next generation of trainers including those wishing to return to the sector.

Though it may be a daunting prospect to employ somebody who can’t ‘hit the ground running’, employing trainees can pay dividends in the future, as superbly summarised by Helen Wilson, GPRS Sales Director:

“Growing your own talent is a bit like creating your own garden – it takes planning, preparation, choosing the right raw materials carefully, a bit of well-applied effort and continual assessment of progress, but in the end you will have something of which you can be truly proud: nurtured potential. And of course in business terms, you will have home-grown talent that will drive better business performance. If you plant well, you can produce a fertile and flourishing talent garden!”

Having been a WBL trainer for many years herself, Helen has written an article, ‘How to grow your own talent’, containing advice on shortlisting, interviewing and recruiting the next generation of trainer assessors.

Sarah Burns, Managing Director of GPRS Recruitment

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