The Tech Corridor Talent Taskforce

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The Tech Corridor Talent Taskforce: Focusing on Talent Attraction and Retention
By Linn Clabburn, Programme Director, Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor

When it comes to the much talked about skills shortage, debate tends to focus on opportunities around education and skills development.

While these are both undoubtedly central to ensuring a bright, sustainable future for businesses in East Anglia, there are many other elements that are key to maximising the capabilities available in this region.

That’s why we’ve founded the Tech Corridor Talent Taskforce, which brings together businesses and public sector representatives to focus on the challenges around talent attraction and retention, and innovative ways that we can work collaboratively to support businesses to access the right type of workforce, as well as enabling the talent we have here to reach its full potential.

The group met for the first time recently at Howes Percival’s Norwich office, and enjoyed a lively discussion broadly focused on three areas: utilising existing talent, developing new platforms and marketing the Tech Corridor as a great place to live and work.

Our debate around new platforms brought up several interesting concepts which had been used elsewhere, such as a talent sharing scheme which allows staff who have finished a project and now have spare capacity to go and work for another company who require someone with a similar skillset. This has proved particularly convenient in business centres with a lot of different start-up companies, which often don’t have resources to employ huge teams on a full-time basis, and there are plenty of those in the Tech Corridor.

We also heard from KLM Engineering about a working pattern they’ve introduced which allows staff to sign up to work a full year’s hours in eight months to coincide with the firm’s busy period. They can then use the other four months to find work elsewhere, pursue a side project or simply sit on a beach with a nice cold drink.

With a growing number of people looking for careers outside regular 9-5 hours to fit around their lifestyles, both these ideas could be gamechangers.

When it comes to talent retention, we spent some time discussing the older generation. East Anglia is a popular destination for those who are moving out of London to seek a better quality of life.

Our ageing population means there is a growing cohort of middle-aged people who won’t be able to retire for some time due to their pensions; indeed Government figures show the number of over-65s in work last year was 1.2m, an increase of 200 per cent when compared to 1998.

This population, who need and want to work, have knowledge and experience which they could pass on to the next generation of staff, be that through training apprentices, job-sharing with younger members of staff or offering advice and mentorship.

So, what are we doing next? Well, plans are being drawn up for a talent sharing platform for the Tech Corridor, initially focused on manufacturing and engineering, which, if successful, could be rolled out to other sectors.

From our conversations with businesses we believe there is demand for such a facility, and that it could provide extra job security for our brightest and best.

What the ambassadors have to say…

Sara Horsfall is part of the talent taskforce and founder of Ginibee, an online platform which creates talent partnerships that allow two people seeking part-time work to join up and apply for full time roles.

Find out more at ginibee.com

She said: “I was interested in being part of the talent taskforce because achieving the mission of Ginibee involves thought leadership in terms of thinking differently about the recruitment and retention of talent.

We want to work with companies and initiatives that are bold, ambitious and forward thinking when it comes to engaging with talent and that’s exactly what the Talent Taskforce has set out to be.”

Linn Clabburn is Programme Director at Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor. If you’re interested in finding out more about talent sharing, would like to register your interest in attending the next Talent Taskforce meeting, or find out how you can get involved in the Tech Corridor programme, contact Linn on T: 07766 886273 E: info@techcorridor.co.uk or visit techcorridor.co.uk

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