Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2023

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Access to Talent and skills

Access to talent remains a key challenge for scaleups and while they remain significant UK employers, many struggle to find people with the right combination of skills and experience to be part of their teams and contribute to further growth. 

58% percent of scaleups see access to talent as a key growth barrier and place particular value on people management skills with just over half (52%) of scaleups seeing these as critical. Other highly prized skills include critical and analytical thinking along with resilience and flexibility. 

They see investment in training and reskilling as a critical factor in attracting and retaining talent and they are keen to support the talent pipeline. The majority (66%) want to offer more work placements, traineeships and apprenticeships but they demand more opportunities for collaboration with educational institutions to make this happen.  

Newly endorsed by the Institute in 2023, Superpower makes recruiting talent ten times faster. This service offering to jobseekers and scaleups provides a smart tool that streamlines recruitment and matches individuals with project-based placements at scaleups, giving scaling companies access to a ready-made talent pipeline. The tool’s AI capacity carries out skills diagnostics and recommends development opportunities for job seekers and enables scaleups to use a simple five-step process to post vacancies. This year Superpower has supported 317 scaleups to recruit in demand skills.  

Connecting with youth is essential to grow the scaleup talent pipeline. Debate Mate is an award-winning programme that helps the employees of the future to develop confidence along with vital skills in teamwork, communication, and critical and creative thinking. It reaches more than 5,000 students each week, equipping them with valuable, transferable skills. And programmes like Barclays Lifeskills bring educators, businesses and parents with young people to equip them with key employability and transferable skills such as solving problems and being creative, proactive and enterprising. The programme which also introduces young people to a day in the life of a business has now helped 16 million young people prepare for the world of work.

Careers advice and guidance remains a key concern for scaleups in 2023 with 64% wanting this guidance to better understand and reflect the needs of scaleups. Teach First’s Careers Leaders Programme is helping to meet this demand, linking schools and colleges with enterprise advisers. Its Career Hubs now cover more than two thirds of schools and colleges, creating dynamic partnerships with local employers so that young people can better understand future career opportunities.

Engagement with future talent creates better understanding of scaleups, and increasing the number of encounters between students and employers remains key demand for scaleups. Educational-tech charity F4S now supported over 3,900 educators to facilitated such  encounters, giving children and young people the opportunity to meet the leaders creating the jobs of tomorrow.

Adapting to new tech remains a concern for scaleups and they see digital, computing and technical skill sets as a critical component of sustained growth – viewing technologies like AI as a key lever to helping them grow and develop the business. Programmes like Google Digital Garage play a critical role in meeting this demand, providing digital skills training for individuals and businesses. They also connect scaleups to currently underused parts of the workforce including older people and interns. 

Currently, scaleups overwhelming rely on in-house training and development to upskill their workforce. But they place strong emphasis on the value of external mentors and coaches and leadership development programmes and exemplars like these play a pivotal role in developing existing and future talent and driving future growth.