How one industry found new talent pools with transferable skills
There’s little doubt that in a world shaped by COVID-19, looking for transferable skills among your new hires is essential. Broadening your talent search to include candidates who have key capabilities or skills that can apply to any industry, rather than individuals with specific experience, can give hirers deeper, more diverse talent pools to consider.

The pandemic has seen an increased demand for talent in industries such as Healthcare & Medical, Information Technology, Mining & Resources and Community Services & Development. The healthcare industry in particular has successfully navigated the new demands by hiring non-traditional candidates.

So, how did they do this? The answer lies in leveraging candidates’ transferable skills.

Why transferable skills are the new experience

In the short term, transferable skills allow hirers in industries that need to hire quickly, fill roles confidently and efficiently. They uncover talent with key soft skills and qualities such as passion, initiative, ability to perform under pressure and empathy.

And in the longer term, industries like healthcare are set to undergo rapid growth. For example, a 2017 senate committee report ‘Future of Australia's aged care sector workforce’, found the aged care workforce will need to grow from around 366,000 to 980,000 employees by 2050 to meet demand.

Thinking beyond traditional talent pools is one way to meet this new and increasing demand. By actively recruiting candidates with transferable skills, organisations can tap into soft skills, such as customer service, people skills and communication skills that are applicable and valuable across industry boundaries.

How healthcare organisations are sourcing candidates from other industries

The COVID-19 pandemic seriously impacted employees in the Hospitality & Tourism and Retail industries. And it was this downturn and displacement of employees that provided the basis of a new strategy for Bolton Clarke. The health and aged care provider created a new, non-clinical role – the aged care assistant – in anticipation of needing to provide a surge workforce during the pandemic.

The organisation trained and placed individuals displaced from other sectors, to provide support for aged care clients and residents. “It made sense to link staff impacted by the downturn in tourism and hospitality with the increased need to support older people,” says David Swain, Chief Operating Officer with the Bolton Clarke Group. “Many of these employees had skills and service experience that are well-matched to meet the needs of aged care providers.”

Balancing candidates’ soft and technical skills

Bolton Clarke received more than 3000 applications for the aged care assistant roles and so far, has employed around 50 individuals across 26 sites. “Many have come from roles in the hospitality and retail sectors,” Swain says.

The aged care assistants support residents with non-clinical activities of daily living and provide generalist support. “The role includes hotel services, cleaning, health questionnaire screening of staff and visitors and / or administrative duties,” Swain says.

The transferable skills the organisation was looking for included:

  • A customer-focused, caring attitude
  • Ability to demonstrate empathy, kindness and resilience
  • Ability to take initiative, problem solve and communicate effectively.

“We can train for technical skills, but we really wanted to make sure we employed people with strong customer service skills,” says Kate Milliken, Bolton Clarke’s Talent Acquisition Manager. “So, in the interviews we asked questions that focused on transferable skills.”

In today’s rapidly changing environment, recruiting with transferable skills in mind is essential. Employing candidates who have a depth of skills means you’re able to draw on a pool of talent well beyond those traditionally associated with a particular industry. And that’s likely to make your organisation a robust, diverse and innovative place to work.