The Bold War

Basic Attraction

Has anyone noticed a lack of young IT talent in the UK at the moment? You know what I’m talking about… Everyone you interview is a dud (even though their academic results are glowing) and they all expect big money (start from the bottom anyone?).  In the UK we are currently in the midst of an IT skills shortage, and according to industry experts, things are only going to get worse.  So how does your bank compete? I will give you a hint.  It’s a bi-product.  Attracting and retaining student talent is a bi-product of your success, approach and culture. 

First off, your bank isn’t the only one.  It is happening across the board.  Nationally, we are experiencing an increasingly high investment in IT.  According to the UK government, companies are already experiencing difficulty recruiting IT professionals from many different skill backgrounds throughout the country. This difficulty is being compounded by recruitment problems and state-wide shortages, depending on the specific roles and skills.  With the recruitment pool desert dry, graduates are the next logical layer to explore.  However things aren’t any better there…

Enrolments in IT courses are at a long-term malaise.  Over the last five years there has actually been a decline in the percentage of University enrolments for IT courses.  This is a major concern.  If you are not increasing your IT enrolments in this day and age it’s the equivalent of economic suicide.  With a lack of talent already, there appears to be no reprieve in site.  This is going to create significant challenges for all industries, and especially for banks.  Banks are investing significantly in large IT programmes and they just can’t find the resource to meet the latent demand.

There is no doubt that a ‘War on Talent’ is about to begin.  It will be fought at University campuses, recruitment offices and networking events across the UK.  It will also be fought online.  So how can banks win? They need to work on their reputation first.  The brightest and most talented IT students are naturally not that excited by a career in banking.  The Social Network was the Wall Street of today’s generation.  They see a certain Hollywood glamour in start-ups and entrepreneurship.  To combat this decline in sentiment, creative recruitment strategies will be required.

Banks need to start at the grass roots.  By focusing their attention on Universities, banks will be able to find fresh talent that can grow and develop into the future leaders of the industry. Banks can also create a clear career path for students and encourage additional uptake of IT related courses.  Banks can also set up projects were students are seconded to work on bank related initiatives.  It is a fantastic opportunity for students to get hands on practical experience.  It also allows banks to identify creative talent and potentially launch fantastic new propositions.

Some possible initiatives that can be utilised via a University partnership are:

1. Lecturing - Lectures could be run by Bank leaders to give an industry level insight to students. It will ensure course content is relevant and it is a great opportunity for leaders to refine and improve the presentation skills.  Students in turn will learn more about how a bank operates.
2. Projects - Banks could get students to work on projects or hackathon’s that solve real problems and are sponsored by real managers. It is a great way of identifying talent and can also be used to up skill more junior staff in allowing them to manage a team of students.
3. Scholarships - This could be offered as a one or two-day a week programme where students can get hands on experience.  It’s an opportunity for students to earn some income whilst they learn.   It would also give banks a chance to ‘try before they buy’.
4. Extra-Curricular activities - Law firms are a great example of this. Law firms commonly sponsor law student societies for multiple universities. Through this sponsorship they have been able to run competitions, BBQ’s, lectures on opportunities in their firm, or even a day in the life of sessions.
5. Open Days - It would give students a chance to see how banks operate and speak to staff. IBM has had some great success with this in various countries.

By taking advantage of these opportunities, the banking industry will gain a competitive advantage in the corporate battle ground, especially over other industries. Once students see their friends and past students go into the banking sector and achieve success, security and a decent income the others will follow.  Better talent will go into banking, students from other disciplines will also be attracted and with course content closer aligned to practicality, graduates will be able to deliver from day one.  Who ever said there were no winners in a war…

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