Almost one million (81%) of small businesses across England are facing major recruitment concerns, according to recent research by the Gatsby Foundation.

It was found that over half (55%) believe there is a lack of candidates with the required skills and knowledge.

Also, 43 percent cite an ability to source such talent as their second biggest business concern, behind rising costs.

Despite this, 86 percent of small businesses claimed they face barriers upskilling their current staff, highlighting an inability to attract, retain and upskill key digital talent.


Recruitment concerns and talent shortages

Almost all UK retail leaders (99%) are worried about talent shortages in their business, with larger retailers most likely to have concerns, according to market research by the leading global software provider for the retail and hospitality sectors, Fourth.

Overall, larger retail businesses are more likely to have concerns about talent shortages, with 63 percent of retailers with 3,000-3,999 employees and 40 percent of retailers with 4,000-4,999 employees ‘extremely worried’.


How are retailers combating the challenges?

While there is no silver bullet solution to resolve talent shortages, retail leaders are using workforce management technology to help improve their talent attraction and retention. More than two-thirds (69%) of retailers say they are using various technologies to attract, recruit, manage and retain talent.

Alongside this, 62 percent of retail leaders say they are using a HR platform for candidate management to help eradicate hiring biases, as well as ensuring a diverse range of people interview candidates (32%) and removing personal details such as age and gender from applications received (30%).


Untapped pool of skilled individuals

“In the current climate of rising costs and economic instability, the need for digitally proficient people is more urgent than ever to help lead businesses forward. The issue does not lie with a lack of available staff, in fact there is a significant untapped pool of skilled individuals who are key to solving the digital skills crisis,” said John Garrido, Regional VP UK for WithYouWithMe.

“We are increasingly working with organisations in the UK to build and train teams for in-demand tech roles by identifying and upskilling talent in overlooked sections of society such as Armed Forces veterans and their spouses, refugees and neurodivergent individuals,” added Mr Garrido.


Overlooked talent pools

Recent research from WithYouWithMe highlighted that many of these overlooked talent pools typically have higher than average aptitude to thrive in digital careers.

For example, autistic individuals typically score 10 percent higher in key tech capabilities. Almost a third, 32 per cent, of neurodivergent individuals scoring higher in spatial awareness and 10 per cent higher in Digital Symbol Coding. These key skills directly translate to careers in the engineering, IT and data analytics sectors





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.