Despite the economic downturn, there are industries where services are in high demand, resulting in acute skills shortages.

Whilst finding new ways to tackle labour shortages isn’t new to certain sectors, others will be faced with this challenge for the first time as the war on talent changes and complexifies due to C-19.

Employers struggling to find experienced workers will move to hiring ‘cleanskins’ – those who have never worked in the sector but are keen to get into the industry – a concept which is a win on many accounts. The benefits of employing cleanskins go beyond utilising transferable skills that exist in the market. It improves workforce diversity, increases local employment, injects fresh thinking, and develops a new succession pipeline. Put simply, it builds a workforce when one is needed.

With a huge number of Australians left jobless due to devastated industries, and border controls impacting worker migration, employing and re-training local ‘other-skilled’ workers could be the solution growing industries need. However, for all the benefits of hiring cleanskins, there are risks that need to be managed. Employers cannot afford to hire people who are inherently unsuited to the job.

For example, when hiring frontline care workers in an aged care or home care setting, emotion management is a critical element to job performance, patient outcomes, employee mental health and organisational tenure. An individual with high emotional stability is likely to keep their emotions in check and avoid emotional outbursts when faced with challenging circumstances. A person who isn’t hard-wired this way, however, is more likely to display strong emotional reactions and may be quick to become frustrated, negatively impacting the employee and patient wellbeing. This may result in a rise in staff turnover and an increased likelihood of workplace health and safety-related incidents.

Similarly, heavy industries such as mining, construction and manufacturing should seek to hire workers with greater personal accountability for safety outcomes, as opposed to individuals who see safety as an organisational responsibility that is beyond their control.

Identifying workers with the right traits for your environment and role will be critical to the success of employing cleanskins.

Despite the high number of jobseekers, finding the right people will be a challenge due to the combination of candidate inexperience and the volume of applications each vacancy will attract, as outlined in my previous article “Recruiting differently in a new era.

Looking beyond resumes and previous experience as differentiators is the solution, but when faced with thousands of applications for a limited number of jobs – and with industry experience no longer a differentiator – how do you create a shortlist?

Finding a needle in the haystack doesn’t have to be a manual process, but organisations need to do things differently by incorporating technological innovation such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) to identify those with the highest performance potential and make lite work of what could otherwise be an impossible task.

Implement the right systems and processes that scientifically and instantly target the right people to interview, and hiring cleanskins becomes a reliable, efficient, cost-effective strategy, which may be the turning point that accelerates Australia’s economic recovery.

Summer Garcia

Head of Clients and Partner

Effectus Consulting