Recruitment, retention and diversity are a top priority for evoke as we invest and grow at our new Wirral HQ, and staff development and training are high on our agenda.

In our experience, there’s still a gap between the skills that school and university leavers have, and what we need to help our business continue to grow. There’s also a gap between the type of roles that we need to fill, and the variety of applicants. We know that tackling the skills gap and securing a diverse talent pipeline is critical for our future success.

Through our existing partnerships with Liverpool, Chester and Staffordshire universities, we have been developing our own pipeline of hardware design talent for a number of years, but as we grow and develop there are other areas of expertise where we will need to recruit the best talent including software design and operations.

We’ve been working with universities for many years, facilitating design competitions and taking on year in industry placements. Last year’s placement from LJMU joined us this year on a full time contract following graduation so we know that these initiatives are working. Having a system in place for design graduates is brilliant but what about other parts of the business, or job functions that don’t have a traditional degree study path? Almost half of our workforce are in operational functions; Systems, warehouse, production and logistics, and many of the young people who apply don’t have the technical skills required for these sorts of roles. This year we’ve taken on apprentices in these business areas and have already had great success in upskilling staff but it would be ideal to complement our workforce with young people who already have a level of technical knowledge that they have learnt at school or college.

At present our operations teams are also primarily male. We have a number of women in management positions in these areas, but we know we can do better. We want to encourage more young women into the workforce in these technical roles – after all, they represent half of our customer audience!

We know there’s a barrier to women in many of the roles we need to fill and much of that comes from education and careers advice in schools. So many young women aren’t aware of the opportunities available to them in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) so they often don’t manage to get the appropriate qualifications and choose different career paths.

Locally, there’s also a real shortage of software designers. According to Modis, there will be a 12% growth in tech employment by 2024 which means that if the number of applications for these roles doesn’t increase, there will be even more competition for the best talent. Locally, we tend to lose out to bigger cities who or larger corporations. In addition to investing in skills, we’ve also created a brand new HQ as an appealing place to work.

In 2018 we’ve been working with All About Stem to tackle some of these issues constructively and proactively. We’ve also been engaging with Wirral STEM Partnership for Girls and are facilitating a design challenge in November with year 9 students from schools across the Wirral. We see investing in local networks and education as key to nurturing the next generation of designers, engineers and tech staff.