February 2018


Skills and Employment – what businesses can do to fill their vacancies with the best people?

Attracting the right applicants for the vacancy in your business can be tough - but there are simple steps you can take to make the process easier. Here, Warwickshire County Council's business skills advisor Fay Winterburn answers some of the questions she often hears from businesses looming to recruit. 


My vacancy attracted only a small number of applicants - what can I do?

With unemployment levels at an all-time low, naturally the number of applicants for advertised roles will be lower. Businesses now need to “think outside the box” and consider new approaches to recruiting.

  • How appealing is my job advertisement?

The contents of job adverts have changed a lot recently as businesses promote non-salary benefits such as car-sharing schemes to show they are reputable employers who invest in their staff. Before posting your advert, take time to research how similar businesses are recruiting. What do they say about themselves? How do they appeal to potential applicants? Do include bigger companies in your research as they have designated marketing staff who use approaches that can be replicated in smaller businesses.


  • Are there social media platforms I could use?

Social media can be a great way to put your vacancy into the public domain but you need to be connected to a sufficiently large audience - and the right audience.

For example, a LINKEDIN page full of customers and suppliers is unlikely to be successful but if you use a Facebook sponsored post, for a small fee Facebook will place your advert into the news feed of relevant audiences. Have you ever googled something and then that same object or topic has mysteriously started to see appear in your news feed? That's technology! Why not make it work for you?


  • Would it help to offer flexible hours?

Yes - this could be very beneficial. Many people across the county are unable to work full-time due to family, caring or study commitments but they could have just the skills you need. So if you are recruiting to a business admin role, for example,  and could offer 9.30am-2.30pm, this could be very appealing, perhaps to mothers trying to return to work.


  • Would an apprentice be suitable for my vacancy?

It's definitely worth looking to see how apprenticeships can work for you. In over 50% of businesses, apprenticeships are a route to seriously consider.

Apprenticeships have undergone radical recent changes driven by trailblazing employer groups to ensure qualifications are relevant to current business demands. They are offered not only to school-leavers but are now available for all ages and various academic levels. Did you know that you can use apprenticeship programmes for team-leaders and management staff? There is now an apprenticeship opportunity for every business.


How can we build a solid skills force for the future?


  • How important is staff training and development?

Very. Providing training opportunities for employees has huge benefits so it is vital to invest in staff. Holding regular employee reviews, outlining training and development opportunities, will help create a loyal, motivated workforce. Talented employees who feel valued and secure in their roles, and can see there are credible future progression opportunities, are far more likely to stay with you.



  • Do I need a big budget for training?

Not necessarily. Developing your staff doesn’t need to cost the earth. Across Warwickshire there are many avenues of funding support, from apprenticeship programmes to partially or fully-funded short courses designed to fill current skills gaps. A few education and training providers offer “early bird” discounts so think about signing up to those deals as the savings over a year can make a big difference.



  • Where do I start in creating a training plan?

A training plan, like all plans, is as simple or complex as you make it. The most popular is a matrix-style document detailing each employee's training needs plotted throughout the year until the training is complete. Most businesses have core skills they wish to introduce as part of their sustainability or growth but it is the staff development reviews that play a crucial part in identifying who, when and how this will happen.


  • How do I access any training support and advice?

For any training and development questions please contact me on Faywinterburn@warwickshire.gov.uk and I will be more than happy to offer my support.



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