We explore the role of the emerging workforce post COVID-19.

2020 and the ensuing COVID-19 pandemic has set in motion events that are causing a very real threat to economic stability in the years to come. Globally, as organisations look to emerge from this period of enforced lockdown, they are assessing the cost to their organisations and putting in place a series of steps for recovery.

The most recent economic downturn and recession is still in living memory for us. When the 2008 financial crisis hit, it also set off a chain of events that we’re still seeing the impact of over a decade later.

One of the impacts was on opportunities for emerging talent and the junior workforce and how it created a talent void in organisations creating instability in talent supply and escalating costs.

Grayce was founded in 2012 and has been helping organisations harness the power of graduate talent to support change and transformation programmes ever since.

When our Founders set up Grayce it was because a deep fault line had emerged after the economic crash of 2008 and subsequent recession. There was a huge gap in the demographic make-up of change and transformation teams nationwide. Very little investment in skills development in this area had massively reduced organisations’ ability to build capability and a sustainable talent pipeline.

Post 2008, the flow of emerging talent into these roles had been completely cut off. Graduate schemes were dissolved as organisations looked inwardly and began deep cost cutting exercises, headcount reductions and lowered their appetite for risk. In this period, organisations were also trying to ride a wave of digital transformation. This left teams with huge programmes to deliver but without the internal skills and capability.

Contractors and consultancies filled that void and became a flexible solution for organisations. However, organisations relied on these options more and more and, whilst effective, these options were highly expensive and not addressing the real long-term problem of talent and sustainability.

This approach seriously impacted and limited options for graduates entering the market, and studies show that they are still suffering the effects of the recession, after being dealt a heavy blow to their early careers.  The impact on opportunities, progression and even salaries for graduates cohorts entering the market post-recession was well documented with studies stating it can take up to 15 years for graduates to recover.

By excluding the very talent who have the ability to intuit new technologies and drive new ways of working, could organisations have suppressed their own ability to innovate?

We would argue, yes. Turning off the supply of graduate talent into organisations has directly led to an overreliance on contractors and consultancies and short-term talent strategies in organisations. Whilst we’re not undermining the professional ability of contractors and consultancies, we do believe there is a place for emerging talent in change and transformation.

We know this because we’re working with over 45 clients nationwide as they look to bring in new talent to help them innovate. We’re working on large scale innovation programmes in pharmaceuticals, payments, insurance, financial services, retail and more. We help unleash the creative and innovative potential of this demographic through formal and informal learning and direct client experience. We’ve been growing our portfolio rapidly over the last 8 years as more and more organisations look to harness the power of graduate talent.

Why? Because the value that this demographic bring to teams cannot be understated.

‘I have personally learnt a lot from the Grayce Analysts that have come in. They are a very capable, quite confident bunch. And they have brought loads to us. I look at the HR Analyst I have; he has a different perspective on things that really challenged me to think in a different way. So, I would say they have really added an extra level of knowledge in our organisation.’ Anna Moore, HR Director, Pollinate.

So, if we’re looking at an impending economic downturn, as predicted, we believe organisations should look in the long term at their ability to drive innovation and develop the skills needed to thrive in a post-COVID-19 world.

The working world will never be the same again, organisations should be looking at a whole new set of skills for the post-pandemic world. Digital literacy plays a part, as does critical thinking, leadership and creativity. Skills that we nurture and develop here at Grayce through our Development Programme, stretching and supporting brilliant graduate talent.

When times are tough, creative thinking and innovation is needed to help steady the ship, this year’s cohort of graduates are well placed to support this. They provide new perspectives, a completely different way of thinking about a problem and have the necessary digital literacy to work efficiently, remotely.

Using a blended approach where you can access this talent could help you build your talent pipelines for the future and provide a low risk option for you as you navigate what’s to come.

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