I’ve just been reading a post on Insider Media on the expected growth of South East Businesses over the next year which is great news for Southampton.
But the same survey run by Hays has also showed that 81% of the 2,442 South East employers and employees who took part are being challenged by skills shortages.
But is it really skills shortage?
Let’s take myself for example.
I have numerous qualifications: BA (Hons) Psychology, MSc Research Methods in Psychology, Occupational Testing Personality and Ability, BPS Qualification in Occupational Psychology (equivalent to MSc) and PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner, although I haven’t utilised much of my knowledge and skills gained from them in my career so far.
Through my work experience, mainly as a Research and Data Analysis Officer and Senior Compliance Officer at Solent I gained a long list of useful, transferable skills.
I’ve interviewed students for temporary work, I worked with them giving out flyers and goodies, I’ve taken part in marketing campaigns promoting student surveys and all the good work happening across the University from coming up with ideas for marketing material and incentives, designing leaflets to updating the relevant webpages.
I ran cognitive interviews and focus groups with students and academics, exploring issues around student satisfaction, I managed the annual graduate phone survey (from the very start, recruiting and managing a group of student phone researchers to analysing and presenting the results) for years and produced endless reports on graduate recruitment, student satisfaction, staff satisfaction and many more for staff, from academics to Senior Managers.
I organised events at the Uni mainly for staff, from sending invites, organising catering, putting together material to give out to presenting to them and asking for feedback afterwards.
I learn incredibly fast, let it be new processes, procedures, systems. Don’t get me started on software, from SPSS to Contensis to Quercus.
I have a more than the average person knowledge on various different areas, Social Media, marketing, mental health, event management and advertising because I just love learning about them.
I’m aware about most of the events happening in Southampton, often before others find out because I love finding out about and trying new things and getting involved with the community. That’s how I met Bene and tried hot yoga, I discovered Women Who Do, I spent an awesome day volunteering for Southampton Pride and took part in Summer in the Square in the last couple of months.
One of my great loves is food. I love trying new things and I love good food. And of course I love talking about it. One of my favourite conversations recently was with the Director of Finance about herbs and spices!
Often others come to me for restaurant and coffee places recommendations in town or even where to get the best food at the University.
I love music and yoga as anyone who follows me on Social Media knows and I feel so happy every time people tell me they loved a song I shared or they tried yoga because they read my posts!
Most importantly, my most precious, invaluable skills cannot be obtained through work because they come from the person I am, from my personality.
I’m a social person. I can have a conversation with anyone about anything. I love talking to people. One of my favourite posts is the one about my afternoon at a Turkish barbers in town, chatting to the owner about Cypriot and Turkish cuisine and culture.
Throughout the years I’ve developed great relationships with students, course leaders, managers, Directors, cleaners, shop assistants, colleagues I don’t work with from other departments and made friends with people I met through volunteering and going to events I find interesting.
I’m incredibly creative. I come up with random ideas about almost anything, food, decoration, events, fundraising (like our Snowdonia Climb)posts (my blog is a great example!).
And I love helping out, that why I volunteer when I can, from the Graduation, and Open Day to the Half Marathon and Southampton Pride. And through helping out I’m making friends from all walks of life along the way. I’m currently helping a fellow Cypriot with her move to Southampton, checking out flats for her. And I love it.
I can go on and on.
I work as a Senior Compliance Officer, which is a standard, boring, 9 to 5 job, most of the time in front of a PC staring at spreadsheets. I love the people but not what I do.
It is incredibly difficult to change careers and move to a job I can actually put in use most of my skills and knowledge.
Why? Because I don’t have ‘relevant extensive experience’ in marketing/events management/advertising/PR/Mental Health, I lack the ‘skills’ necessary, I’m one of those on the ‘skills shortage’ side.
I will have to start from scratch, on an entry level position which of course I don’t mind but I can’t afford it financially. My plan is to save over the next year and take the plunge. Unless I’m given the chance by one of the employers I apply for work, highly unlikely.
So, my advice to employers:
Look beyond someone’s work experience and work related skills. Unless is a very technical job, most skills can be easily and quickly taught if you recruit the right person, the person who might not necessarily have all relevant work skills but the one who will be the best fit in your team and is keen to learn.
My biggest, most desired goal for 2018 is to finally move to a job I can enjoy and will give me the opportunity to utilise my skills and make a difference, whatever and wherever that might be.
I’ve been reading about Emotional Intelligence lately and years worth of research suggests that empathy, optimism, hope and enjoyment in what you do is a significantly better prediction of success than IQ (I can’t recommend Daniel Goleman’s book and work highly enough).
I’m confident on my abilities, I believe in myself and I’m optimistic about the future. No matter how many rejections I may face (I didn’t get an interview for the job I recently applied to in case you were wondering) I know for a fact that whoever believes in me and gives me a chance even if I’m not the ‘right person’ on paper, they will not regret it.
In the meantime, I’ll keep learning and use my dead-end job survival techniques to keep me going.