Presidents Message - April 2017

Posted: 25th April 2017, 11:56am

St Albans has talent! What are you doing to find it?


One of the critical factors key to the enduring success of any business is its ability to acquire talented people from a diverse background and to provide an inspiring and challenging workplace which encourages such talent to stay with the business for the long term.  Having interviewed several people for roles over the last few months, I never cease to be excited and enthused by the prospect of new talent joining the team and there is no doubt that one of the most rewarding feelings is to witness such talent making an immediate and often sustained positive impact on the business. 


Talented people present themselves in several different ways.  Some are drawn from within the business itself, starting out in a junior role and then grasping the opportunity to progress within in the business to more demanding roles. Others are brought in from outside based on skills and experience they have acquired whilst working elsewhere.  In both of these cases, the decision to recruit or promote is based on historic verifiable evidence of the candidates skills and experience and hence with the correct recruitment process, should be a fairly safe bet.  In reality however, businesses are often placed in the position of recruiting new starters who have no or very limited experience to offer and this is where the debate around readiness for work starts to get more complicated.  

This is particularly true where businesses are recruiting school leavers and graduates where the common criticism leveled by business owners is that candidates often do not possess the basic skills that businesses require from the outset.  It is here where a meaningful proactive relationship between academic institutions and the business community at a local level is critical to ensuring that students leave the education system “business ready”..  In essence,  this requires educators to be clear on what skills and attributes businesses require their new starters to possess and that businesses themselves take a leading role  in defining what is meant by business ready and assisting such establishments to deliver it.  This can be achieved  through such initiatives as training programmes, work experience, careers fairs and mentoring arrangements. In my experience through my own business and working with the City of Expertise here in St Albans, schools are only too happy to receive input from the business community when it is offered but may be they are at times a little too shy to ask. 

As such, I believe it is the responsibility of the local business community to drive this agenda as opposed to merely lamenting the fact that first time employees are not adequately prepared for the workplace.  Businesses who acquire the most talented school leavers and graduates are those who truly engage with their local schools, colleges and universities in what must be a mutually beneficial relationship which like any sensible investment will benefit the business enormously in the medium to long term.

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