We read an interesting article on LinkedIn this week which included an alarming statistic: By 2020, the skills gap is set to increase by another million.

In the article, Sherry Coutu CBE, wrote about the many companies who felt they would be able to grow their business faster if university graduates were equipped with the ‘right skills’. What particularly struck a chord was that Sherry highlighted the need to start developing these skills at a far earlier stage than University – going back to secondary and even primary school.

This is a view long held by us. It is essential to start connecting employers to young people early on in their education, not only to begin developing their soft skills, but also to open their eyes to the opportunities, industries and technologies that will be available to them when entering the jobs market.

We have written for the NCUB to promote academic-business collaboration as a means of bridging the ever-widening skills gap.

At a local level, we are supporters of the Basingstoke Consortium, a charity dedicated to building links between employers and schools and colleges to enhance young people’s employability. Through a variety of initiatives, from inviting businesses to participate in mock interview days to regular workshops, the Consortium is working tirelessly to close the skills gap in our community.

Just yesterday, we opened our office for another school visit. 12 Computing and IT students spent a morning with us. They took part in a speed-networking session with members of the team, who each shared their different routes into Hireserve and explained what their roles entailed. We then held a communications workshop and touched on how to build a positive personal brand online.

Even something as simple as this is a step towards equipping young people with vital knowledge about the soft skills employers are looking for. It’s a way of highlighting routes into employment, be it through an apprenticeship or a KTP scheme, and can provide a valuable insight into how a business works – what is day-to-day life like inside a UK tech firm?

We really enjoyed having the students in for the morning, and the feedback from the school has been incredibly positive. It’s valuable for us too, in terms of personal development for team members – and the more links we can develop with schools and colleges in our community, the greater a potential talent pool we can build for the future.

The article by Sherry Coutu is well worth a read and is another stark warning to both businesses and educational establishments that more work is needed to equip our future workers with the skills, knowledge and experience that so many UK employers are looking for.

Find out more

Our thoughts on academic-business collaboration for the NCUB

Why we still need to alter our attitudes towards apprenticeships

Hear Karen speak about academic-business collaboration at The Firm Winter Conference




About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.