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Keep these seven skills in mind when recruiting for innovation

“The road to three per cent,” a CBI report, has claimed Brexit could diminish access to funding and collaboration, “damaging our influence overseas”. With its warning in mind, more companies have started recruiting for innovation.
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Productive and innovative businesses have a competitive advantage, the CBI explained, which we’ll need to boost overseas investment once the UK leaves the EU. But it means having a team capable of “changing the game” – the reason why CEOs plan on recruiting for innovation.

The importance of recruiting for innovation has been a matter of great discussion since 2015, upon the release of poor productivity statistics. Even back then the CBI was calling for an adaptive and inventive workforce, with Neil Carberry, director for employment and skills, telling the Financial Times“Progress for productivity has yet to be made. The focus now must be on spurring businesses to innovate.”

Part of the problem has been finding talent – and the recruitment or reassignment of those often wrong for the job. We’ve long heard stories of CEOs unable to discover suitable candidates. But if they can find skill potential in someone then they can always be further trained – a revelation courtesy of Happen.

The company unveiled that the majority of CEOs – among those it surveyed – plan on hiring staff with certain skills over the next ten years.

“There’s a catch when recruiting for innovation,” Soren Kaplan, managing principle at InnovationPoint, famously said in 2015. “If you hire people with great technical skills but who don’t have the more subtle qualities needed for helping you truly break-through, then you’ve just taken a big step backward rather than forward.”

It’s no wonder then that 59 per cent claimed it would be a challenge. But they’ve made up their minds – and there are four specific skills they believe will help their companies thrive.

(1) Being technology savvy – 64 per cent

(2) Understanding artificial intelligence – 61 per cent

(3) Commercial expertise – 54 per cent

(4) Digital marketing skills – 53 per cent

(5) Basics of consumer psychology – 42 per cent

Technology was always going to be at the front of CEOs’ minds, explained Happen co-founder Costas Papaikonomou.

Technology advances are inevitable and businesses are starting to experiment with new tools and programmes in the work place. Of course it’s going to be a highly desired skill for employees to understand, but there are two crucial skills bosses are forgetting.”

So when you’re similarly looking for hires, keep an eye out for the following skills:

(6) A grasp on market needs

(7) Understanding production assets

Papaikonomou added: “Over the last ten years there are undeniable proof points that understanding market needs and production facilities are key drivers for launching successful innovations to market. That’s where we’ve spotted gaps, and believe there needs to be a greater businesses understanding.

“It’s about time people took more responsibility for assets and don’t throw money at the latest machinery, without considering their own. In fact, as a result of those not considering their own production capabilities, manufacturing is one of the biggest causes of innovations failing. Yet it appears bosses do not consider it an area of interest for the future.”

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Shané Schutte

Shané Schutte is a senior reporter at Real Business, with a particular specialism in employment and business law, human resources, information technology and sales/marketing.

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