Rajeeb Dey, founder of Enternships and co-founder of StartUp Britain on why he decided to judge the London Loves Talent Awards and what qualities he’s looking out for in entries
Q. What is that one thing you are going to look out for as a judge?
I am interested in looking at companies that have gone out of their way to create programmes, have helped to develop skills for young people or created programmes to home-grow their talent. For example, if a company has shortage of digital skills. I’d be interested to look at what they’ve done to go out of their way to help train and nurture that talent.
Q. What should companies do to promote talent?
I think companies need to develop a culture of learning and development that helps create a strong employer brand. This would then attract young talent who would join a company because they know they have the chance to develop and learn new skills. So companies really need to demonstrate and champion the work they are doing to nurture talent to become an attractive workplace.
Q. At a time where companies are under pressure to build their balance sheets, does nurturing talent and skills lag behind as a priority?
Businesses can’t afford to ignore talent and skills and if it’s not a priority, then it should be a priority. Having the right kind of talent is essential for growth and if you’re not able to necessarily attract the talent you need then it is your responsibility to do something about that. Doing anything from working with your local university or lobbying the government for a change in curriculum can help firms come up with a more practical and tangible training scheme – and companies of all sizes can do this.
Take Enternships, for example. We’re a relatively young team that comprises of recent graduates and we’ve taken on an apprentice too. We conduct “Lunchbox learning” sessions every Thursday where one person runs a session on a topic of their interest. We also have a “Learning Wall” in the office where employees can write what they would like to learn and what they can offer. This helps all of us to learn new skills that we probably wouldn’t take out time for otherwise.
I think the size of your business shouldn’t be a factor when you’re thinking of efforts to nurture talent. Whether you’re a small or big company, you’re going to achieve bigger success and profits if you invest that time in developing talent.
Q. What skills do employees want to learn about?
I think young people should be given some time to experiment and try out different functions within the company. For example, we had a lot of people who were offered one function but very quickly found that their expertise lies in another area. Businesses should be responsive and flexible to the talent they are taking on board rather than necessarily following more traditional structures.
Q. How can the government help firms in doing this?
I think the government can do more around NI benefits for taking on young workers.
Changing the way the apprenticeship system is funded is another key issue which is being discussed in The Richard Review of Apprenticeships. I am hoping the government simplifies the vast number of apprenticeship frameworks as it tends to get very confusing.
Also, I think there should also be a provision for additional financial benefits for companies that train and develop workers of all age ranges.