Should Staffing & Recruiting Firms Be Responsible for Bridging the Skills Gap?

Should Staffing & Recruiting Firms Be Responsible for Bridging the Skills Gap?

Missing Puzzle PieceSkills shortages across the staffing and recruiting industry have been on the rise in recent years, and have certainly caused a talent crisis across various workforces. While employers might have tons of candidates applying for jobs, the issues for finding the right people with the right experience remains incredibly challenging — with 83% of HR professionals noting that strong talent is in short supply.

So what can be done to get the best talent in the door, and who is responsible for turning things around—workers, colleges, businesses, state and federal governments, staffing and recruiting firms, etc.?

While short-term fixes seem to focus on challenging status-quo factors that have previously disqualified candidates (opening up opportunities for workers with records, busing people without reliable transportation into work, hiring remote workers, etc.), long-term solutions all seem to point to the upskilling of the current workforce.

Apprenticeships vs. College

One method of job upskilling that has been explored by businesses specifically is the use of apprenticeships — where a person learns a new skill while working under another person, and are paid to do so. In one survey conducted by the American Staffing Association (ASA), 69 percent of participants said degrees aren’t worth what they use to be, and 62 percent believe apprenticeships make people more employable than going to college.

Although concerns around salary and pigeon-holing one’s skills have tainted attitudes towards vocational work in the past, 71 percent of those surveyed disagreed that completing an apprenticeship would limit their future employment options, while more than half (60 percent) disagreed with the idea that apprenticeships lead to lower-salary occupations than those requiring a college degree.

Ultimately, most participants felt that the use of apprenticeships are helpful into leading into a new career (94 percent), and that it’s a smart idea to consider both apprenticeships and college as options (87 percent). With more job seekers buying into the idea of skills training to supplement traditional education, apprenticeships could serve as a way to both attract and prepare a new wave of top talent.

Staffing & Recruiting Firm Training Programs

Given staffing firms and recruiters are the experts when it comes to finding the best talent the market has to offer, there’s been a clear uptick in the time and resources dedicated to identify and engage with talent (e.g. technologies geared towards candidate experience via online platforms and AI chat bots, personalization, etc.). But what can staffing and recruiting organizations do to get in on the upskilling action?

Similar to what businesses are trying to accomplish with apprenticeships, some firms are starting to implement and offer training programs for the contract workers in their system. These programs are run by individual firms, and serve to accelerate the skills-gaining process through classroom instruction, simulation training, etc. What’s more, tailoring upskilling to what a specific market demands (e.g. healthcare is currently looking for more operating room nurses), helps make these programs more specific and marketable.

So should it really be up to staffing and recruiting firms to shoulder the responsibility of the skills gap that’s plaguing today’s workforce? No. Given the layered complexity of the issue and a number of factors that influence the current talent market, it would be impossible to put the onus on any one group.

But since staffing and recruiting companies harness that expertise, and have so much skin in the talent game, it only makes sense to try and step up where they can for the betterment of all. What’s more, providing training programs can help you differentiate yourself from other firms, and make clients and candidates more likely to want to partner with you!