26 Feb 2024
by Suzy Lockwood

The skills shortage: why secondments might be the answer

Guest blog: Suzy Lockwood, Co-Founder and COO, ditto, explores the role secondments can play in tackling the skills shortage

Should we be learning from the shared economy?

I’ve always been a shared economy advocate. From renting outfits for occasions on ByRotation or HURR, renting an Airbnb for a holiday, or using WeWork for a desk, I’m able to benefit from the constant variety and affordability it can offer. Prior to starting ditto, I was a management consultant working project-to-project as a borrowed employee. Much like switching up my wardrobe, it was the variety that I enjoyed the most.

And I’m not alone. We know the world of work is changing, and employees are changing too - Gen Z, set to make up 30% of the workforce by 2025, are quitting their jobs 4 times more often than millennials in search of this variety. The “rise up the ranks and retire” model is becoming far less common, and all industries are trying to find ways to adapt to the changing needs of their employees. This is happening alongside another, but equally as important trend; that skills have never been so in demand. A whopping 94% of today’s workforce do not have the skills they need for the world of work in 2030. 

Sharing talent via secondments

So how can we harness the desire for variety as a way to upskill a workforce? Introducing secondments. Best known in industries such as law and construction, they offer a powerful alternative to traditional upskilling methods. Whilst it has its place, learning and development in its current form is falling short; only 12% of learners say they apply the skills from the training they receive to their job. If I think back to the times where I had the steepest and most effective learning curve in my career, it was always “on-the-job”. When I was offered a new challenging project outside of my comfort zone, I found myself learning quickly from those around me and immediately able to utilise those skills in my role.

Not only does this appease the wish for variety from employees and provide an innovative perk for an organisation’s workforce, but it plugs a vitally needed gap in skills. Much like how you might borrow a home on Airbnb, secondments provide a route to borrowing an employee from another company for a temporary period of time. The “home” organisation retains an engaged, upskilled employee, while the “host” company gains immediate expertise. But the benefits extend far beyond the sharing of skills. Secondments foster cross-pollination of ideas, broaden career paths, and build valuable connections for the employee. In a world where workforce agility has never been more needed, secondments also enable organisations to flex their workforce up or down temporarily, when the company’s performance fluctuates.

On-the-job learning to plug the skills gap

As Deloitte notes, when they asked HR leaders how they plan to build new skills for the future, almost two-thirds say they will go out and recruit for the new skills they need, even though this is incredibly costly: it can be six times less expensive to build technical skills internally than it is to go hire them from the job market. One of our ditto clients perfectly stated it to us the other day “are you saying secondments enable me to loan out the skillsets I temporarily do not need, to help me pay for the ones that I need right now… and in turn, upskill my workforce with the skills needed for the future?”

The rapidly evolving work landscape, alongside the rising expectations of new generations of employees, demands a fresh perspective on bridging the skills gap. Secondments offer a powerful solution, creating a sustainable pipeline of upskilled talent. They provide cross-industry exposure for employees, and foster knowledge exchange, preparing individuals for future success. Sharing your talent is the future - we believe in the power of secondments, and we think you should too.

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Suzy Lockwood

Suzy Lockwood

Co-Founder and COO, ditto

Suzy Lockwood is the Co-Founder & COO of ditto, the talent sharing marketplace. They connect organisations to borrow, or loan, their workforce via secondments to provide upskilling opportunities and variety for their employees.