I have been struck over the last couple of months how many companies are complaining about a skills shortage. And not just call centres either. Utilities companies, retailers, healthcare organisations, travel businesses. Wherever I’ve been this year, organisations are struggling both to the find people with the skills needed, but more worryingly, the people who they already have, not being competent in their existing roles, causing unacceptable performance issues and resulting business impacts.
How has this happened? Have companies have stopped developing people? Have middle managers stopped developing up and coming people? Or have organisation stopped having a culture where that can happen?
From what I’ve observed, a lot of it comes down to attitude. Is it an age thing? I don’t want this to be a criticism of what’s schools and universities have been chucking out the last 10 years. But is that what it is?
From what I’m seeing, it’s not that these people don’t want to do well or get on, but no one’s supporting them or helping them to do so. The difference from my time in my 20’s and 30’s I suppose is that we got on with it and did it ourselves, and didn’t wait for someone to do it for us or with us.
It’s certainly about lack of capabilities, as well as mindset. But organisations need culture’s and environments where this can happen and that doesn’t seem to always be in place, no matter how much L&D and culture change work has gone on, so maybe this actually is a lack of leadership and failure of management higher up in creating that environment? Or maybe the pressure of finances in recent years has been so great that we’ve all cut to the bone too much and this is the result?
And whose responsibility is it anyway? Employers looking to Governments? Government looking to employers, who won’t invest for other companies to reap the benefit? A certain section of employees who want everything done for them?
The apprenticeship programme is definitely gaining traction and hopefully this can go some way to plugging the gap but it has a long way to go, and the word itself still has to change its meaning and appeal.
And anyway, whatever happened to personal responsibility?