Following Nexus and KPMG’s latest event in The Breakfast Briefing Series, Jo Howorth, Nexus Engagement Manager for Skills and Talent, shares her insights on how to tap into the region’s brightest talent pools and future-proof workforces.
Recruiting and retaining talent is one of the biggest challenges facing scale-up businesses. Building a strong team can really take a business to the next level, but having the right people in the right roles is vital to success.
A scale-up typically needs to grow at pace, which means the recruitment process often needs to be rapid. For a small business that may not have hired before, this can be daunting. This is why, working with our colleagues at the University of Leeds, we offer tailored support to help our community navigate the process.
In my role, I’m responsible for connecting businesses with recruitment and workforce development opportunities within the University of Leeds. I work with businesses on a needs-based approach and guide them through the whole process and, working with my colleagues, I suggest the most appropriate mechanism to address their needs.
From recruiting fresh talent or taking on an intern, setting academic projects to solve business challenges or embarking on a business development programme, there is a raft of support available for growing SMEs.
Recruiting the next generation of talent
One of the reasons businesses often come to Nexus is to access the next generation of talent at the University of Leeds. With over 38,000 students from 140 countries, the University nurtures some of the most innovative, disruptive thinkers. It is these candidates that have the potential to solve problems, and help to shape and grow a business.
The University strives to ensure that its students leave their studies fully prepared to enter the workplace and add value from day one. Over 75% of Leeds students have work experience and 41% choose to take a placement year as part of their academic journey. Eager to enter industry upon graduation, it’s no surprise that University of Leeds students are in the UK’s top ten most targeted by leading employers*.
Workforce development with the University of Leeds
My role also sees me working with business owners on continuous workforce development. I often hear from founders of fast-moving SMEs that, as the business grows, they are no longer able to do everything on their own anymore. The founder needs to be able to step into a more strategic role. However this can be challenging for those who have lived and breathed every aspect of the business from day one.
I work with these founders and listen to their challenges, understand the direction they want their business to go in, and recommend the right mechanism to achieve their ambitions. The University offers two fantastic programmes that are perfectly placed for founders in a position of rapid business growth:
- The SME Future Leaders Programme is a three-month scheme that helps high-growth business owners develop the leadership capacity of its team and plan for the future.
- The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative helps entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity through access to education, capital, and business support services.
Entrepreneurs who have completed these programmes have consistently grown their revenues and created jobs at rates that outperform the wider economy.
Nexus community member’s experience
Edge Analytics is a great example of a business tapping into the University’s opportunities to solve complex challenges and identify future employees. By offering year-in-industry placements and research projects, Edge Analytics is able to provide students with valuable experience, whilst benefiting from new skill sets and ideas. The company has gone on to retain a number of placement students on a permanent basis.
Another of our members, Ligentia, has also maximised the opportunity to work with the University by recruiting top talent for its recently established tech hub, based here at Nexus. This has allowed them to move at pace and build a new team in Leeds to deliver their digitally focused strategy.
By getting under the skin of a business and truly understanding their needs, we can ensure the right connections are made, with the University, our thriving community, and beyond, to encourage growth and drive success.
*article reference https://www.leeds.ac.uk/news/article/4354/leeds_top_ten_for_top_employers
The Breakfast Briefing series will return on the 12 November with Fundraising & the Route to Exit and on the 3 December with Sales & Marketing. To find out more about this series of events keep an eye out on our event listings and our social media channels.