Remember Einstein’s definition of insanity?
“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
Many of the future mobility skills challenges inadvertently come from this, I think. Technologies and markets are evolving rapidly, but companies are using the same old talent acquisition and development approaches – and then they’re getting frustrated when they’re not achieving the right results.
So, how do you break this cycle?
In our experience, it requires a considered approach to workforce planning, so you’re working strategically instead of firefighting the latest vacancy. By taking the time to plan now, while the market is still developing, you’ll be in a strong position to acquire the niche skills needed in the short-term – while also future-proofing the business as much as possible.
Here, we look at 3 ways to get essential future mobility skills. The headings will look familiar, but the new mindsets and tactics will help you get that different result you’re looking for.
RECRUITMENT - BECAUSE DIGITALISATION OF MOBILITY MEANS DIGITALISATION OF SKILLS
Future mobility doesn’t mean losing the heritage behind the business. Rather, it means supplementing existing experience with skills that aren’t necessarily ‘trainable’ under current operating models.
Recruitment, therefore, needs to cast a wider net, looking at contractors to fill short-term gaps as well as transferable skills from other industries. Our clients are having success by bringing in people with backgrounds in sectors such as:
- Space, aerospace and defence
- Consumer electronics
- Software and app development
EV, CAV and infrastructure technologies are already making use of industrial chemistry, electrical and software engineering, machine learning, artificial intelligence, virtual modelling, cyber security and data science. For data on EV, CAV and infrastructure skills, download this free eGuide or contact us to get data specific to your business model.
Here’s a quick story to illustrate the point. Through our Industry 4.0 Future Skills programme, a graduate games designer was placed into an automotive company. The candidate specialised in rendering artificial worlds for games platforms. Now he renders virtual cities for autonomous vehicle applications, enabling artificial testing and development. Bringing in these transferable skills has reduced testing costs while boosting R&D – but they’d never have considered a games designer before.
This example proves it’s worth asking yourself: “Are we missing out by not taking a broader, more creative look at skills that will benefit the business?”
COLLOBORATION - THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS, ACADEMIA AND INDUSTRY
Traditional operating models and supply chains are changing with future mobility. For instance, KPMG forecasts that OEMs will divide into ‘Metalsmiths’ that manufacture increasingly sophisticated hardware; and ‘Gridmasters’ that manufacture vehicles but also provide a platform for value-added services.
This offers new opportunities to access skills through collaboration – with parallel industries and also within the actual supply chain. We’re already seeing signs of this through our clients and our extensive work with professional associations like Make UK, Motorsport Industry Association, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Midlands Aerospace Alliance and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
Ways to acquire skills through collaboration include:
- Skills partnerships – through secondments, staff loaning and combined training programmes with non-competitive companies
- University collaborations – like this one with MIRA Technology Institute to develop expertise in new technology areas and bridge the gap between ideas and commercially viable products/services
- Innovation support – like Catapults, which help with areas like accessing grant funding, moving through technology readiness levels and scaling up production
TRAINING - ENGAGING STAFF IN CAREER DEVELOPMENT
Businesses have a wealth of skills and heritage in their existing workforces, and you must leverage them for new technology and operating models.
The best advice we give clients on the retention and employee engagement side is not to rest on your laurels:
- Have one-to-one discussions about how roles will evolve – that way you can hone in on areas of individual areas of interest and direct career development in a mutually beneficial way. Are you incorporating this future planning into your regular staff reviews?
- Use Apprenticeship Levy funds – don’t forget you can use the Levy for upskilling. Training providers are eager to work with businesses on this, and having structured training helps boost retention and attractiveness to new hires at all levels
We recently worked with a large EV charging infrastructure start-up that experienced this first-hand. It was relatively easy to find graduate engineers specialising in renewable energy, battery technology and software/hardware implementation. But they needed senior people to lead the young team. The company has had great success with a Head of Engineering from a more traditional background – who was drawn to the business by the opportunity to develop new skills.
YOUR NEXT STEP - PLAN EXACTLY WHAT SKILLS THE BUSINESS NEEDS
Taking a different approach to recruitment, collaboration and training are 3 key ways to access essential future mobility skills. But before you act, you must understand what skills you actually need, now and in the medium- to long-term.
If you have any questions about filling in the skills matrices, contact me on 01384 446138, email me or book into my diary here. We have extensive data on recruitment trends, geographic skills densities, salary benchmarks and technology types, which will help you formulate an accurate picture.