Tackling the Talent Shortage – get out of the City

by Guest Editor Scott Butler, Butler HR

Industry trends, such as big data and cloud computing, crowd–sourcing and all the other new buzz word solutions have arrived for a while now and regional and rural areas are not immune to the effects at an enterprise or small – medium business level. These effects are fuelling the demand for IT skills, sales & marketing skills and many other specialised trade skills. While these trends have been on the horizon for some time, most businesses have failed to plan ahead and hire in advance.

As a result, the demand for regional talent has now outgrown Australia’s ability to supply qualified experts into regional and rural areas. Companies are competing fiercely for the talented few that sit on the job market. Business owners and Hiring Managers seek experts with healthy talent pools, solid networks and proven solutions to overcome the recruitment conundrum and they are increasingly fed up with ‘Recruiting Rookies’ and off the shelf bargain solution providers who only waste the client’s valuable time and money.

I have worked with my team in regional settings for over 20 years and experienced the key factors and challenges that contribute to the talent shortage.

It really boils down to 4 Key contributors.

  •  The first being the Loss of Intellectual Property experienced daily via the decrease in the number of students training in these fields and taking courses or vocational training in specialised areas such as mining, health and IT, all enhanced in combination with an ageing mining and IT workforce.
  • The second is the immigration legislation when it comes to the hiring of skilled and semi-skilled labour from outside the country—something that is quite hard to turn around quickly in regional Australia. We have learned to address and manage these recruiting issues but they are still a hampering factor.
  • The third is competitive benefits provision, with the cost of living often being higher here than in some outposts, making it less appealing to some recruits.
  • The fourth factor is one that compounds the first three: the global surge in new specialty operations such as mining or IT in developing regions such as Mongolia, Thailand or India.

I work with my team at Butler HR in the midst of one of the most challenging recruiting regions and we continuously adjust and improve our recruiting methods to ensure speedy results. We address these issues in five ways.

Step 1 Understand the layout of the market and create talent maps. Act local and think global with the help of a local recruiting expert. We regularly achieve this by creating national networks of industry peers that help us to map out talent pools.

 Step 2 Identify the best regional strategic approaches. We regularly plan the best recruitment approaches for our clients since we have in-depth knowledge of the different regional talent landscapes and requirements. Having a local and national overview of talent gaps enables us to develop best practice recruitment and selection toolkits for each region or sector we are recruiting in. We design and deliver these approaches together with our clients to ensure speedy candidate presentation.

 Step 3 Enter into partnerships and get the most out of the supply side. Whether your company operates within the region, nationally or globally, there are many benefits in working with the right recruitment partner. The emphasis for HR professionals or Hiring Managers should be on finding a truly regionally enabled partner; a recruiting company that understands both the complexity of the Australian and national industry and the needs of your company from a regional view point.

Step 4 Invest in your employer brand. Establish with your recruiting partner what talent you are after and where this talent is located, so they can concentrate on finding ways of attracting this group of individuals to your brand. Employer branding is no longer just about a recognisable logo, a set of values or a rationale. It is rather about a multifaceted and integrated approach to marketing,communications and HR—all taking shape together to attract and maintain talent. Experienced local recruiting partners can do the work for you and ensure a flow of potential new blood to your business.

 Step 5 Engage with tomorrow’s talent. Engage your local recruiter to harvest the benefits of building up your own talent pool—especially amongst the youthful talents of tomorrow. I regularly suggest to all our clients to start thinking about how to find talent before they need it rather than when they need it.  One way of doing this is by engaging your recruiter with future talent who are studying in relevant fields such as engineering, IT and other specialist fields—offering co-op opportunities, on the job training and valuable insights into the industry, which will help build a network of potential employees for the future.

So to wrap it all up …

If you want to truly tackle the skills shortage conundrum in your regional or rural area, then you need to manage both the immediate and long-term challenges at play. The five approaches outlined are about ensuring that you have the right outlook and tools, to address your short-term recruitment needs to find local talent or bring the talent to your area.

Lastly, don’t waste your time, don’t experiment with the locals and most importantly don’t hire rookies.

Hire a local expert and hunt wisely,