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How are we preparing for tomorrow’s talent demands?

Mark Smith | 10 Aug 2015 | Comments

With the annual cycle of graduate and apprentice recruitment now successfully completed, we are looking forward to inviting nearly 400 new starters into the business by September. However what may surprise you is that the Atkins Early Careers team is still a hive of activity.

Over the past 12 months we have been working behind the scenes on a number of projects looking at our early careers recruitment processes and asking ourselves the question: ‘how are we preparing for tomorrow’s talent demands?’

You may be already familiar with some of the names given to certain ‘generations’ in the workplace, from Baby Boomers (ages 51-70), Generation X (aged 31-50) and Millennials/Generation Y (aged 21-30). What you may not know is that there are some real differences in how these generations look for jobs and what they are looking to get out of them once they are employed. For us at Atkins that means that we need to make sure that our early careers processes and offerings are meeting the expectations of this new, tech-savvy workforce, a ‘millennial workforce’.

A recent report by the Indeed Hiring Lab has shown us that “while the workforce is currently divided almost evenly between the three generations, millennials are predicted to make up 50% of the global workforce by 2020.” In addition to this, as the Baby Boomers retire we are already predicting major skills gaps in sectors such as engineering and technology – this offers great opportunities for the millennial generation.

What’s so different about the millennial generation?

Firstly, the way that people look for jobs is already changing. Millennials are conducting the majority of their job search queries (73%) from mobile devices (Indeed Hiring Lab).

Another key factor is being able to access immediate information sources on companies and brands. Engagement consultancy Talented Heads notes that “millennials love learning what to expect before applying for a role” through digital content which covers what it’s actually like working for a company.

Finally, the expectations of millennials extend way beyond the recruitment process, with the Financial Times reporting that this generation are keen to secure careers with a positive work-life balance in companies that benefit society. This is supported by research conducted by consultancy Global Tolerance which states that “62% [of the millennial generation] want to work for a company that makes a positive impact, with half preferring purposeful work to a high salary.”

What are we doing to engage millennials interested in our sector?

Our approach to engaging millennials is changing for our new 2016 cycle as we adapt to ensure we continue to provide the best experiences for our candidates.

In a world where the majority of our candidates are using mobile devices to look for their new careers, we will be implementing a new mini application form that is quick and easy to complete on the move, allowing our candidates to register their interest in Atkins as soon as they find a role that they are interested in, with easy transition points to other devices when required to complete some of our other stages.

One of those subsequent stages our candidates will experience will be our situational judgement test, a new stage this year. This job preview screening tool uses video to provide a realistic insight into what it might be like to work as a graduate at Atkins, asking them to choose the most likely and least likely outcomes from a series of work-based scenarios.

But just as important as making sure our application experience is lining up with what millennials expect, we also want to provide graduate and apprenticeship schemes which offer that positive work-life balance and project work that has a positive impact on the world around us.

One such project is Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, the world’s first power-generating tidal lagoon, which will produce enough low-carbon electricity to power over 155,000 homes for 120 years.

Our early careers applicants don’t have to look very far to see how they could work with Atkins to deliver sustainable projects which will provide benefits to society both today and into the future.

Not forgetting Gen-Z

With all this focus on the millennials it is clear that this generation’s expectations have already changed the way we look at attracting and developing our early careers talents. But it’s important that we continue to examine our approaches to ensure we are adapting to our target audiences. With the growth of apprenticeships in the UK and a new generation – ‘Generation Z’ – beginning to look at their career options in the next few years, we should always be asking ourselves: ‘how do we prepare for tomorrow’s talent demands?’