Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2022

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Talent and skills

Access to talent remains a major concern for scaleups in 2022 with 62 percent of CEOs identifying it as one of their top three barriers to future growth, with it being the single largest challenge for 1 in 4. With the majority of scaleups anticipating growth in 2023 and seven in ten forecasting employment growth, the talent pipeline remains a critical area for support. 

Scaleups are significant UK employers, however the vast majority are currently finding it challenging to find people with the right combination of skills to join their teams. Scaleups also see access to international talent as key to addressing the skills gap with half looking to recruit overseas, both from within the EU and outside.

Overwhelmingly they value social skills (72%) as the top skill for new entrants into the labour market from schools and universities, followed by management (59%) and technical skills (55%).  People management is ranked the top future skill (80%), but significant future demand is anticipated for a range of skills including resilience and flexibility, judgement and decision making skills, cognitive flexibility and emotional intelligence. Critical thinking and adapting to new tech also score highly. 

To combat skills shortages, the vast majority of scaleups (81%) are increasing investment in training and reskilling. Eighty percent also plan to increase their focus on the ‘employee experience’ as part of their talent strategy by considering the types of non-financial rewards and benefits they can offer alongside how they develop the right culture within the business. But scaleups are also demanding more support from academia and the wider ecosystem including better careers advice and more support for work placements and apprenticeships. With scaleups offering twice as many apprenticeships as traditional businesses this should be a key focus for future support.

This Review again highlights exemplars that build the skills demanded by scaleups and that engage future talent with scaling companies. Creating a better understanding of scaleups and increasing the number of encounters between students and employers is a key demand for scaleups. Educational-tech charity F4S has now facilitated more than 1.4m such encounters. Its new Digital Boost also helped 3,500 organisations acquire new digital skills, another key development area identified by scaleups.

Support from Teach First’s Careers Leaders Programme is helping improve careers advice and guidance, scaleups’ key demand of education in 2022. The Careers & Enterprise Company now supports 4,407 schools and colleges to link with enterprise advisors and its Career Hubs covers more than two thirds of schools and colleges, creating dynamic partnerships with local employers so that young people can better understand future career opportunities.

As scaleups continue to place high demand on social skills we welcome the fact that Lifeskills has now helped more than 16m young people prepare for the workplace, equipping them with employability skills, knowledge and confidence. Debate Mate now reaches more than 4,000 students every teaching week through its in school debating clubs, helping them to develop confidence along with vital skills in teamwork, communication, and critical and creative thinking. 

Adapting new tech remains a key concern for scaleups. Programmes like Google Digital Garage remain critical in meeting this demand, providing digital skills training for individuals and businesses. It has now equipped more 700,000 people with vital new skills through a combination of webinars, online learning and one to one mentoring support.

Sheffield’s RISE Programme continues its practical support helping scaleups attract and retain talent. RISE takes scaleups through the recruitment and appointment process and beyond, ensuring that newly appointed graduates are supported to help realise business growth.  

These programmes are making a difference to the skills available to scaleups today and helping to shape the focus of future talent. This has never been more important as scaleups struggle to recruit the right people and skills to drive future growth. 

Previous Leading Programmes Breaking Down the Barriers for Scaleups
Next Insight: The Scale of Need: Understanding the talent development needs of scaleups