I have a huge amount of empathy for young talent entering today’s corporate world. I don’t think there’s been such a generational range in the workplace for a very long time in terms of working practices, expectations, and digital advancement, and it’s clear we have a lot to learn from each other.
Developing young talent speaks to my personal values and, as a leader, it’s where I’d love to continue to take the business. Providing an equitable starting line for young people to begin their careers is front and centre for me, and La Fosse Academy offers just that – we train and develop the next generation of junior talent, with a focus on improving DEI in the industry. It speaks directly to our vision of helping create a world where talent is recognised regardless of background and lived experience.
That equitable starting line was one of the reasons I was attracted to the fast-paced world of the recruitment sector in the first place. Irrelevant of your background, upbringing, education, financial backing, or societal beliefs, there’s a home for everybody who has the right skill set – it’s what makes our industry a vibrant and energetic place for your career.
This sadly comes with its downsides, with varying levels of quality and consistency for our customers and candidates, but I truly believe there’s exceptional talent in our sector, delivering real value to businesses and the wider economy. The numbers speak for themselves, with the UK recruitment market now estimated at £140 billion (a £20 billion increase on 2019), highlighting the importance we play in continued growth.
One of the most rewarding parts of my job is hearing about the experiences of the rising stars we’re developing at La Fosse Academy. I’ve recently been speaking to some of our current and graduated Associates, alongside some of our key Academy customers.
Harry de Blaby was part of the first cohort at La Fosse Academy. He completed his placement with C. Hoare & Co., was taken on permanently, and has recently been promoted to Delivery Manager. Harry went from a deckhand on luxury yachts to signing up to the Academy and subsequently beginning his tech career in London.
Harry says of his experience: “The Academy set me up with all the skills I needed. Even going into a role that I wasn’t technically trained for, I still had the technical, industry-relevant base knowledge to understand what an API was, how a system hangs together, DevOps processes, and all the must-haves to develop a successful career.”
Harry’s mentor and line manager, CTO Chris Loake, says the qualities he’s looking for in entry-level talent are “a general aptitude to learn, to problem-solve, to apply skills to shifting context”. Chris says he believes good leadership is about not walking past problems but addressing them and finding solutions. By identifying junior talent to provide diverse thinking and problem-solving, Chris and his team have unlocked future potential that now contributes to the private bank’s current and future success.
Sophie Hebdidge, our Academy Director, said recently, “The Academy is special because it’s different. We worked backwards when we designed the programme, asking our customers, “What would you benefit from in terms of junior tech talent joining your business?”. We’re not only training people in specific skills or tech – we’re teaching them the underlying techniques they need to be able to succeed in the workplace. We took this approach because technologies continue to evolve, and it allows our Associates to follow the career path they feel most inspired and empowered by.”
Some of our Associates have found themselves exceeding their own expectations. Zahra Mahmood is 18 months into her placement at the Department of Transport and has not only developed her technical capability but has gone above and beyond with her wider professional skills. Most notably, she won a nationwide hackathon and attended a presentation at 10 Downing Street. Zahra credits the Academy for giving her the opportunity to stretch herself, and she’s now looking forward to a successful career in the civil service as a result.
Although there are numerous individual success stories, and we’ve now helped over 200 Associates start their careers in tech and transformation, not everything is rosy. The market is competitive, and the economic backdrop is challenging. As a result, customers in every sector are battling for business and facing the question of where to allocate hiring budgets.
Whilst many customers buy into the idea of solving junior tech talent shortages and improving long-term DEI shortfalls, the reality is it requires a solid support structure, an attractive employee value proposition, a stable management team, and a consistent flow of good talent. None of these challenges are easy for us to solve, but we’re excited about what 2024 has in store for us, our Associates, and our Academy customers.
(If you’d like some further reading, I thought this article by McKinsey made some interesting points. And if you’d like to talk to me about any of the topics in this blog, please do reach out as I’d love to hear from you.)