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DSC 2005 2212 SBI 300723150

How employing a diverse workforce can help to address the skills shortage crisis

The UK economy is undergoing extraordinary and unprecedented changes and challenges. As a result of shifting consumer behaviours, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and regulations which stem from the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, many industries are calling out for new talent.

This week marks National Inclusion Week so there is no better time to consider how businesses can become more inclusive while helping to address their need for talent by employing people from a diverse background. While unemployment overall is falling steadily and employer demand is outstripping supply, the jobless rate for many disadvantaged groups has remained stubbornly high. Thinking differently, engaging with jobseekers who may not be working with your usual recruitment partners, is a win-win.

Speaking at the ‘It’s All About Inclusion’ Conference on 30th September, hosted by supply chain company Wincanton, and attended by leading businesses in the retail and logistics sector, Maximus UK and Remploy Programme Director, Gareth Parry commented:

The COVID-19 pandemic led to mass redundancies and pushed many people to retrain for work in different sectors. Industries such as retail, supply chain and hospitality were hardest hit and as the economy begins to recover, it is these industries that are now faced with open job roles that they are unable to fill.

“But while the labour market is roaring back to life, and the lack of skilled jobseekers is affecting businesses from supermarkets to the local high street café, millions of people remain out of work or without the skills to access good-paying jobs in growth sectors. Long-term unemployment has risen by 45% and the disadvantage that groups such as disabled people, BAME communities and older workers face in finding work are not falling. In some cases, employment ‘gaps’ have widened over the past 18 months. 

“As many sectors face a skills shortage, savvy businesses have begun considering how they can employ new talent at scale while also working to address their diversity and inclusion priorities and deliver a greater impact on the communities they serve. Employing and retaining a diverse and inclusive workforce has long been a high priority for organisations looking to drive business success. 

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“At Maximus UK, we work with tens of thousands of people every year from varied backgrounds to develop new skills and find work. We deliver employment and skills programmes specifically supporting disabled people through our Remploy team, the long-term unemployed, and people with an offending background, offering personalised support that removes barriers to applying for suitable roles and matching them with the right employer.

“The recently launched Restart Scheme, delivered on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions, will help hundreds of thousands of people who have been out of work for more than 12 months to overcome often complex barriers to employment. Launched in July, we’ve already support hundreds into work across sectors including logistics, care and retail.

“Out of the pandemic is emerging a tremendous opportunity – an opportunity to make inclusion a meaningful reality while supporting the nation’s businesses as they rebuild from the pandemic. An opportunity to help fix some of the longstanding inequalities in our jobs market. Employers value their partnerships with us as we help them fill job roles with people from diverse backgrounds who may not have otherwise applied for their roles. One of our employer partners is Wincanton, we’ve been working with them for decades to help them achieve a truly diverse and inclusive workforce.”

Sally Austin, Chief People Officer at Wincanton comments, “Having a workforce that truly represents the communities within which we work is a fundamental piece of our continued success at Wincanton. Creating an inclusive environment where every Wincanton colleague can come to work and feel safe being themselves will ensure our teams can enjoy their work, perform at their best and continue to delight our customers. It is thanks to partners like Maximus UK that we continue to work towards achieving our goals.”

To find out more about Maximus UK and the employment programmes it delivers visit

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