Business relies on an optimised, functional supply chain. Whatever industry you are in, when your supply chain breaks down, your ability to generate value suffers. Fortunately, most companies have a good understanding of their supply chain, from the sourcing of raw materials, though the manufacturing process, the logistics of delivery and supply to the end customer.  Most companies also have a good understanding of the ethical and environmental elements of that supply chain and its operation, often with a strong Corporate and Social Responsibility focus.

But that focus is rarely found in the supply chain for the talent and skills that the organisation depends on. Companies often depend on third parties to identify and recruit talent, very few have internal functions. The problem with this approach is that they have no influence over the talent pool they are drawing from, the pool is finite and created by a process outside of their influence and visibility. A company has to compete for the available talent from that fixed pool, pushing up both wages and recruitment costs, and hence impacting the bottom line.  When the talent pool dries up, you can’t recruit the people needed to run the business. A recent study by the OU estimated that the skills crisis costs UK PLC a staggering £2Bn a year in increased recruitment costs, inflated wages and temporary staff. Over 50% of companies surveyed said they had to recruit at a level below their skills requirement because staff were not available.

No one has addressed the problem of the supply chain for skills and talent, certainly not at the scale that is required to fix the problem, and not at the scale they would invest if they were facing the same crisis elsewhere in the supply chain. The fact is that the supply chain for skills and talent as it currently stands is not fit for purpose.

It is time for a new approach to filling the skills pool that considers these problems and helps employers build a predictable talent pipeline. Working Eye was specifically set up to showcase careers to teenagers and guide them into a career through a process of discovery.  By addressing the problem at an early age we can prepare people for the workplace, and prepare them for the careers that industry will need in the future.  As Brian Cox once said on the lack of people choosing engineering as a career – “People think they know what engineering is but the evidence is they don’t, and in the UK the evidence is that we are very, very bad at telling them”, Working Eye is designed to solve that problem. We work with industry to engage teenagers in career discovery, engaging them with help not instruction, to ensure they have the future skills that industry needs to succeed. Working with industry we are delivering a sea change in careers guidance, turning teenage ambition into the talent and skills that industry needs, and doing it in an inclusive, socially responsible and sustainable way.

Simon Bayntun is the CTO at Working Eye Ltd. The article can also be read on LinkedIn.