We spoke to a member of the public on her experiences with recruitment and gaining experience in the workplace. She spoke from her personal experiences, as a BME woman who had been out of work for a few years.
She began by saying that she felt her previous experience hadn’t given her the specific skills for the jobs that she was interested in. She felt that when you get to a certain age, employers expect you to have a wealth of experience that leads to your next job.
But what if you want to change your career path?
Coming from a BME background, she has found that there is little representation of diverse backgrounds in the workplace, which has put her off applying for some roles. She has said that a lot of employers claim that they want to diversify their workforce, but she isn’t always convinced that this has been achieved. If employers want a diverse workforce, something has got to give, she thinks the passion and attitude towards the role and the organisation is the most important thing. They can train you from there. It is about giving people a chance.
“I mean I have definitely got the passion; I want to do something more community based and all that. But because I have sort of come in late in the picture, I don’t have the skill set or the experience to get it.”
Our interviewed individual has been a part of a mentoring scheme by the Women’s Equality Network. She said that she benefited from it. It has helped to boost her confidence and encouraged her to apply for different positions. She also found it valuable in meeting new people and expanding her networks. She feels that there should be more schemes like this.
“If you are looking for people from diverse backgrounds and stuff and if they don’t have the skills, you have to break it down and then get people trained up and then maybe later, you will have that skills set to employ people from that background.”
She is volunteering with various organisations but finds that the opportunities to volunteer with some organisations are few and far between. She wants to gain experiences that will help her in job interviews but feels like she can’t gain enough experiences quickly enough.
“I mean I went for interviews; they can see that I really want to help, and they even say that you have got the passion and all that, you are really passionate, I come across that. So, that should be enough to start getting these skills, because you won’t get those skills otherwise. These skills are not so technical that no one can get it.”
Based on the individuals’ personal experience, she feels that people in the middle of their working life should be able to change career paths, but they need the experience and skills to do so. She put forward a few suggestions to help with this:
- Recruitment should focus on attitude and behaviours and less on technical skills. Job opportunities should allow individuals to develop any other necessary skills on the job.
- More mentoring schemes should be set up to give people the skills and confidence to apply for different roles and expand their networks.
- There should be more volunteering opportunities available on a regular basis. That way individuals can help and alleviate workloads whilst gaining crucial experience for their professional development.
- Look at ways in which to diversify the workforce, for example: creating flexible working opportunities such as job sharing, and part time opportunities. These are the sort of opportunities she would prefer to go for.
- Engage with the community to work out what they want from recruitment, and increase the experiences and opportunities available to develop skills within different parts of Cardiff.