Decades have now distanced businesses from the idea that their access to labour and investment in machinery would give them the competitive edge. Instead, in the modern knowledge era, it is the ability to attract, develop and retain skills and harness latest technologies that are the driving forces behind commercial success across industries.
Keeping abreast of tech or machinery requires the capacity to invest. And, yes, upgrades in tech are far more demanding than upgrades in machinery ever were, but they can also be more affordable.
However, the challenge of attracting, developing and retaining a skilled workforce is a totally different ball-game from accessing labour, and it is no wonder that so many companies today just do not have the talent they need in order to really optimise their businesses and achieve their goals.
Today’s businesses need to understand the importance of a learning culture in order to effectively compete for talent. This is the view of Richard Rayne, CEO of iLearn, a leading South African learning solutions business offering a range of learnership and training solutions that address critical skills shortages.
“Many companies invest heavily in attracting and hiring the right talent,” Richard points out. “However, they can be so focused on this that they fail to realise that far more time and resources need to be invested in actually developing current employees and offering relevant, accredited learnerships to upskill unemployed youth.”
Richard highlights how a major strategy to win in the current war for talent and combat the pervasive and notable skills shortages, is for a business to develop strong Organisational Learning Culture (OLC) and to take responsibility for developing their own talent pipeline.
“To establish an effective OLC, enterprises need to enable a vibrant learning environment,” he says. “This is what instils the values of learning in your workforce and delivers the inspiration and personal satisfaction they experience through their commitment to continuous learning.”
The benefits of an OLC have been well-documented by organisational experts, and are also demonstrated by companies such as Google. An OLC:
- Is a major draw-card for top talent
- Motivates and engages employees, boosting retention, reducing recruitment costs and driving the momentum to achieve business goals
- Is highly valued by most employees, but especially by Millennials, our new generation of talent
- Helps an organisation determine and execute effective succession planning
- Reduces staff turnover, protecting business intelligence and helps to avoid costly disruptions to long-term projects, processes and campaigns
Richard also believes that to effectively develop a strong talent pipeline, SA organisations need to look beyond the current skills base to consider grooming unemployed youth for potential recruitment within their organisations. Learnerships provide a unique and effective means of targeting skills shortages that are further supported by significant tax rebates.
The Taxation Laws Amendment Bill tabled in Parliament on 26 October 2016 represents a shift away from the allowance being equally targeted at all skills levels to provide a more generous allowance for less skilled learners, ripe for development.
iLearn offers a wide range of NQF-accredited learnership programmes that include Business Management, Business Administration, Contact Centre, Project Management and IT learnerships to address the current skills shortages.
According to the 2016 South African HR Recruitment Trends Report a shortage of critical skills in the market was highlighted by over 50% of businesses as their biggest obstacle to talent acquisition. “This means that businesses need to have the foresight to proactively develop the talent they need,” Richard says, “An OLC, boosted by funding from a relevant SETA, can enable an organisation to develop employees’ hard and soft skills, as well as business competencies. It can help employees leapfrog insufficient qualifications and a lack of experience. It can develop a culture of lifelong learning and instil a learning mindset.”
“Any savvy SA business will recognise that this is a sharp strategy that they need to win in the war for talent,” Richard concludes.