Press Release: “Why do we Keep Cramming the Square into the Round Hole?”
15 Feb, 2023 •
Almost 6 out of 10 vacancies are not filled or are only filled with difficulty. That is what the UWV concludes from a survey among more than 4,500 employers. Never before has the labor market been so stuck. The old solutions? Extend the vacancy, play with the terms of employment or launch a fun recruitment site. A patchwork that does not extend beyond the surface. Can we do better? Yes. BrainsFirst successfully introduced a new talent measurement tool that looks under the hood to find deep skills. The ability to find atypical talent increased significantly. And that’s only the beginning. “We’re going for Zero Talent Waste.”
In 2018, brain scientist Dr. Ilja Sligte noticed that the selection criteria that Air Traffic Control Netherlands (LVNL) had set up did not lead to the desired number of suitable new recruits per year. On behalf of the scaleup BrainsFirst, which he co-founded, Sligte proposed looking for talent differently.
It was time to find ways to break through this talent jam. “Together with LVNL, we are now primarily looking at deeper lying issues skills, at brain level. That produces surprising matches that are independent of CV, education, grade list, or interests.”
This deep skills method is about recognizing very concrete, underlying skills that serve as the basis for acquiring knowledge and skills. Every brain is completely unique. “If you are naturally good at recognizing patterns and can work both quickly and accurately, you will acquire certain skills that come with a profession such as financial controller, first aid doctor, or software tester. We map brains and match them with jobs,” says BrainsFirst founder Eric Castien. “Talent is largely invisible and hard to catch. Normally we only see the tip of the iceberg, but if we start to look under water as it were, we suddenly see hidden matches.”
Six years of scientific research into the link between brain and job brought Castien and his brain partners Ilja Sligte and Andries van der Leij along various talent incubators. From the KNVB Campus in Zeist via office staff at the Municipality of Rotterdam, option traders at IMC, lawyers at the Zuidas, programmers in the Utrecht region, and doctors-in-training at Amsterdam UMC.
Neuroscientist Sligte: “Any role or job demands something specific from the brain. If you look at supply and demand on the labor market, then the jars fit and lids less and less. With congestion in almost every sector as a result. Why? Employers try cramming squares into round holes with all their might. We are able to look at deep skills and in this way accelerate the stalled talent matching. Whether it’s top football, engineering, finance, healthcare or IT: look primarily for the match between brain potential and job profile.”
Labor market experts have recently referred to the ‘skills-based approach’ as a panacea for the labor market frictions. Sligte: “This refinement of profession or function into a cluster of skills is a good one step. Where it still pinches is how do you manage to remove subjectivity and bias from all those words? Agility, learning ability, attention, problem-solving ability: how do you quantify them and make every talent count, literally? By measuring brain functions and expressing them in numbers, we succeed much better than traditional methods. This provides a robust, sustainable basis for subsequent matching. Because our work is based on the European framework for Skills, Competencies, and Occupations (ESCO) we have linked to brain types. That means it is finally possible for employers to go underwater and recognize what they are now looking for above water. This way you prevent the structural wasting of talent. I expect that hundreds of thousands of talents will be matched in this way in the coming years. ”