A couple of weeks ago, we co-hosted the High Growth Roundtable with Peter Quintana from The High Knowledge Growth Company. This was the fifth roundtable organised by Peter and it was great to be a part of it in our capacity of SME People and Change Specialists.
The theme was STEM Recruitment and Retention, and it was a pleasure to meet with business leaders in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics sector, and discuss this topic over lunch at the Bath Priory Hotel.
“A ha” and “me too” moments
We discussed issues that included the role of Schools, Colleges and Higher Education (HE) play in preparing the next generation of STEM employees, equality and diversity and if this hinders STEM recruitment, the importance of a strong employer brand in the world of high need and a dwindling supply of STEM candidates.
Many companies are finding that Apprenticeships are not being developed as the government intended, that pay and benefits are an critical factor in the attraction and retention of strong candidates and that despite the hard work many companies have put in, STEM is still very much a male dominated environment.
There was much synergy in the group with familiar nods and smiles of agreement around the table – those “a ha” and “me too” moments.
The key takeaways and ideas that attendees were going to go away and look into implementing, include:
1. Recruitment and retention are two sides of the same coin and need to work hand in hand. If you are keeping pace with the market to bring in high quality candidates, then make sure you keep an eye on your current employees pay and reward structure. It’s also worth checking what your employees really value from their employers; money is not always the only option to promote to keeping your employees committed and loyal to you. BMT have some great examples on their website of creating a strong brand.
2. When recruiting, create a powerful message to draw candidates to your company and focus on developing a employer brand that really understands the STEM candidates and speaks to their values and expectations. Build links with local Colleges and Universities to create relationships early on with students and this can provide a solid pipeline of talent. AB Dynamics have done just that and seen success with their graduate recruitment.
3. Apprenticeships are still being seen by both employers, students and their parents as a lower tier option to getting into work and yet they provide a really valuable source of highly capable employees. Swindon UTC has the perfect pool of talented engineering and design students and through working with employers directly, have a great track record in matching talent to employers needs so it’s worth taking a longer term view about your talent pool, working with local Schools, UTC’s and Colleges to build that relationship and bring in their top talent.
4. More and more companies are taking their recruitment problems into their longer term outreach strategies and working with local Primary Schools to begin the engagement with STEM at an early age. Beverley Ford, MD at Rotaval used the Festival of Engineering recently to start some great conversations with young children about the world of engineering and this is where the next generation of engineers will come from.
5. Finally, think about company ‘fit’. Don’t get too hung up on skills and experience. What do your company’s purpose and values really look like? Yes, qualifications are important, particularly with STEM careers, but having an adaptable, open and eager to learn candidate is worth far more than one who has worked for X or can do Y. You can teach skills – you can’t teach attitude!
If you’re a rapidly growing SME and are after HR and recruitment expertise that will help you to scale up, get in touch.