For a lot of businesses, the “skills shortage” is a myth, says Gi Fernando
We all like to believe that we have the ability to think creatively and come up with that killer idea which ends up taking off. We all have it in us to be creative, however I would strongly argue, that as a nation we don’t harness this talent, focusing instead on a “skills shortage” rather than a “creativity gap”. It is not that we fail to possess some of the best talent and brightest minds in the world, but that we simply do not utilise these talented people in the most effective way. UK businesses are being harmed due to these attitudes and behaviours; and in addressing the below points, I hope change can be implemented.
The fear of automation
Automation is not something to fear, it is something that needs to be embraced and will ultimately complement some of the incredible and creative things people are doing up and down the country. If admin and other tasks can be automated by applying simple processes, this can only be a positive thing – freeing up people’s schedules so they have the capacity to think creatively. This will mean more disruptive inventions and innovative thinking as a consequence. We should be inspiring creativity and teaching vital digital skills in the classroom to allow the new generation to become invaluable commodities and flourish in the new age of working.
Hunting not harnessing bright talent
You only have to look at the TalkTalk hacking scandal to get a picture of attitudes in the UK. Those allegedly responsible were all under the age of 20 and have seemingly managed to outwit a multi-national company and plunge the UK media in to frenzy through their actions. Young people such as these may be capable of breaking down security walls, but they are also capable of making them stronger. If, as a nation, we were engaging talent and harnessing it for positive use, we could have had these people teaching the heads of TalkTalk how to sharpen their security policies.
Exam results aren’t always the answer
Throughout education and graduate employment, there is not enough emphasis on people’s abilities to have hidden talents. If somebody isn’t hitting target or not achieving a good enough grade then they are simply deemed as underperforming and their other skills and abilities cease to be explored. If talented pupils and employees are disengaged then you have to ask the question why and how we can provide an environment and subject matter which can absorb people’s time and effort – that is what achieves the greatest levels of productivity and results.
Not providing millennials with the right environment
Millennials and the brightest graduates are now wise to the box-ticking nature of CSR and need a real purpose to recruit them in the first place and then motivate them to achieve their best. Employers, government and schools need to think like talent agents, building engines to exploit and get the best out of talent, and teach skills that amplify and add. There needs to be a continuum between learning at school and learning at work, and I would argue that the best learning environments will gain the best economic results whether it’s a school, a startup or a huge corporate.
Gi Fernando is founder of digital transformation company Freeformers.