Attracting Black Talent – An untapped Opportunity to Grow Scotland’s Talent Pool

20/03/2023 - Attracting Black Talent – An untapped Opportunity to Grow Scotland’s Talent Pool

Fash Fasoro is the founder of The DataKirk SCIO which started in 2019 with the aim of closing both the attainment gap and data divide in Scotland.

The Open University and Institute of Directors’ report suggests that almost two thirds of organisations in Scotland (62%) are struggling to find people with the right skills. In particular, there is a shortage of specialist, entry level talent, including business critical digital skills. As a result, almost half of Scottish businesses (42%) think they will struggle to find people with the right skills in the next 12 months, with 36% saying skills shortages will continue to be a problem for the next five years. As they continue to struggle to find employees with the skills they need, their competitiveness and growth prospect are jeopardised. At the same time, a sizable and expanding population of people are unemployed or underemployed and ready to find employment or extend their hours of employment. Therefore, there is the need to create a holistic strategy to strengthen business and industry ties and reduce the skills gap in key growth sectors of the economy.

Scottish Black Community – Untapped Talent Pool
Higher Education Policy Institute research indicates that (International Students) Black Talent bring benefits to the academic sector in terms of tuition fees and capacity, they have also come to be viewed as a source of highly skilled accessible migration. The DataKirk research (supported by M Square Media research) shows that there are currently 68,180 non-UK students enrolled in higher education in Scotland wanting to stay in the United Kingdom to work permanently. This international student, graduate and their adults’ dependants could contribute £40 Billion to the Scottish economy and reduce Digital & Data related talent shortages by about a quarter. Nevertheless, due to the methods most organisations employ to recruit and hire talent, they are essentially “Hard to Reach” from most of those enterprises even though they would profit from hiring them.

The Scottish Black Talent represents an enormous opportunity for employers to: address talent shortages, increase workforce diversity, access free recruitment support, increase retention rates and make a difference in a Black Talent’s life.

Scottish Black Talent Isn’t Hard to Find
Businesses of all sizes are finding it hard to find and keep employees. This reality is motivating employers to rethink employment. Many are reviewing recruitment and retention practices, and making adjustments to remove barriers, as a way to tap into talent previously overlooked. We know that there are thousands of people in our own Black community, and in communities across Scotland, who are ready and willing to work when connected with the right opportunity. Essential to this connection are supportive employers: business owners and managers who are motivated to meet their own employment needs while providing unemployed and underemployed individuals with the stability and dignity that comes with meaningful work. At the first Scottish Black Talent Summit held on 30 October 2022 at Gorgie Suite of Heart of Midlothian Football Club, Edinburgh, I was able to offer insight on improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace, as well as how I have helped create pathways to employment, demonstrating that Black Talent isn’t hard to find but that HR and talent acquisition professionals ought to engage the Black Talent community and understand how to recruit, hire and retain them.

Providing opportunities to Black Talent isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also of major benefit to Scottish businesses. Research has shown that diverse enterprises are 35% more likely to financially outperform their competitors, and businesses with diverse cultures also tend to have more productive, more engaged, and more satisfied employees. Scottish businesses may not be able to effectively engage with all Untapped Talent communities at once, however every business can realise value from engaging with untapped Talent. Untapped Talent communities are also not homogeneous, and individuals have complex, intersectional identities; while employers may target a specific group of interest to employ, what is important is that employers establish truly inclusive processes that remove barriers for the employment of all groups. By embedding inclusivity in business practice, businesses open to door to fully equitable workplaces.

Reflective Challenge: How can you widen your thinking about what talent is and where to find it?

We’d like to thank Fash for writing this guest blog which is part of the Leading to Change Diversity Blog Series. We want to highlight and promote the voices and experiences of diverse leaders at all levels including those working at frontline / grassroots levels. We aim to celebrate diverse leaders who can act as role models for other aspiring, diverse leaders.

Fash Fasoro

Fash is the founder of The DataKirk SCIO which started in 2019, with the aim of closing both the attainment gap and data divide in Scotland. With the full support of its partners and sponsors, DataKirk has successfully grown and scaled from a small Edinburgh based social enterprise to a regionally impactful charity, improving healthy working lives and increasing upskill and employment opportunities for socially and economically deprived and disadvantaged groups. His purpose and passion lies in promoting diversity and inclusion within the digital and data economy and supporting DataKirk’s data enthusiasts to accessing and sustaining employment.

Prior to DataKirk, Fash worked in both the private sector in Data Management as well as third-sector organisation in Housing and Homeless management.

Fash is a recipient of Data Lab scholarship which helped him to attend University of Stirling, and he holds a triple master’s degree in Housing Studies, Business Information management and Big Data. As well as this he is a father to two lovely daughters.

All information regarding our contributors was correct at the time of publishing.

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