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As the country celebrates National Inclusion Week, Gareth Parry calls on businesses to embrace the opportunity for more inclusive recruitment

The current shortage of workers is impacting the lives of millions and shows no signs of ending. A combination of factors has left many industries calling out for new talent as job roles are left unfilled and many organisations are operating with a reduced workforce.

This week I was invited to speak at the ‘It’s All About Inclusion’ Conference, hosted by supply chain company Wincanton, and attended by leading businesses in the retail and logistics sector. As we celebrate National Inclusion Week, 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. Thinking differently, engaging with jobseekers who may not be working with your usual recruitment partners, is a win-win.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many firms to make 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 more than 40% 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.  

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 supported 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.