Executives fear they need to invest in training and retention amid talent squeeze

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Retaining talent and offering the right sort of training are likely to become the biggest concerns for organisations over the coming year, a survey of senior executives has found, as experts warned the competition for talented employees was likely to intensify despite the prevailing economic conditions.

The poll, conducted by recruiter Robert Half, found that almost one in three (31 per cent) senior decisions-makers were planning to prioritise employee retention and training over the next 12 months, while a similar number (29 per cent) said attracting talent was a key concern.

Among chief information officers and executives concerned with technology, 41 per cent of respondents were concerned about skills training and development.

Matt Weston, managing director of Robert Half UK, said skilled professionals often had the option of choosing between multiple competing job offers, and some businesses were being pushed to increase salaries to attract them. “This is creating a talent dilemma where businesses can get into a salary bidding war to attract these professionals,” he said.

But Weston added that salary alone was not always enough to retain talent. “Businesses that align their job role, company mission and organisational culture with their desired candidate are more likely to stand out in the hiring process,” he said.

The survey polled 700 senior decision-makers across UK businesses.

Commenting on the figures, Zofia Bajorek, research fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies, said she expected the competition for talent to intensify as factors such as technology and changing demographics continued to reshape the workforce. “It is not news that the UK has currently got a tight labour market, and alongside other global economic and demographic trends – such as expanding workforce diversity, an ageing workforce, advancements in technology and employment flexibility – the competition for talent will intensify,” said Bajorek.

“Organisations will have to consider in more detail what talent and capabilities they require and at what level of the organisation talent is needed to remain productive and competitive.”

Bajorek added that businesses could help retain talent by providing training, developing talent pathways and using mentoring to develop the skills and capabilities they needed.

“Lack of growth opportunities is a major factor in why people leave jobs, so focusing on upskilling and development plans may provide a way of retaining the talent an organisation needs,” she said.

The figures come in the same week the CIPD’s latest Labour Market Outlook reported a sharp drop in applications for low-skilled jobs, which it attributed in part to a dip in the rate of growth in the number of EU workers entering the labour market.

Warning that some employers may face recruitment challenges ahead, the research also found upward wage pressure in a significant minority of organisations, with more than a third (36 per cent) of employers expecting basic pay to increase by more than 3 per cent over the next year.

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