How To Overcome The Skills Gap
The skills gap and what organizations can do about it The skills gap is a very real thing with nearly…
September 21, 2022 | 3 mins read
The skills gap and what organizations can do about it
The skills gap is a very real thing with nearly nine in 10 executives and managers saying their organizations either face skill gaps already or expect gaps to develop within the next five years. Companies are desperately trying to fill increasing job vacancies while millions of unemployed, overqualified, or under-skilled workers do not, or no longer have, the relevant skillsets required to fulfil specific roles. This lost workforce represents an incredible loss in growth and economic prosperity.
As a result, learning and development leaders are turning to upskilling and reskilling as ways to manage this skills gap and navigate the turbulent world of work.
What is the skills gap
Simply put, a skills gap is a gap between the skills an employee possesses, and the ones they need to perform a job efficiently. A skills gap is created or identified when organizations struggle to find the right fit for their needs and goals.
A common assumption is that a skills gap is caused due to a lack of technical or functional skills. Nothing could be far from the truth with nearly three in four employers saying they have a hard time finding college graduates with the soft skills (Thrive Skills) they need and 91% of talent custodians saying that foundational skills (behavioral, cognitive and social skills), will be crucial in the future.
Two primary reasons that are often attributed to the growing skills gap are technological evolution and the COVID-19 pandemic. The former is making functional skills redundant and driving the workforce to develop human skills like empathy, critical and creative thinking, and communication. The latter has disrupted the world of work like never before and has made employees re-evaluate their priorities completely.
Skills gap analysis
A key to finding any solution is to thoroughly understand the problem. We know that a skills gap exists, but organizations need to conduct a skills gap analysis to know exactly what gaps need to be bridged. Three steps that organizations can take to do this are:
1. Identify key skills across the organization – Gather inputs from all levels of leadership and get aligned on the skills that are needed or valued the most. Compare all the input to company values, job descriptions and future predictions to correctly analyze and identify the skills required across the organization.
2. Measure current skills – Analyze performance metrics and reviews and ensure consistent collection of data to get an accurate measurement of the skills that exist in the organization.
3. Create an action plan – Once the skills that are required and the skills that the organization currently has are analyzed, the next step is to create a plan of action by changing the recruitment strategy and creating reskilling and upskilling opportunities.
Once the skills gap has been identified and understood, seeking new talent is an effective decision. However, the hiring process and strategy needs to change, and it needs to focus on finding the right talent by overcoming biases such as familiarity heuristic (favoring candidates from similar backgrounds) and career archetypes (ignoring candidates who have had an unusual / unconventional career path). Applicants with a growth mindset and a passion to succeed should be considered.
Reskilling and upskilling existing talent
Instead of looking for a new resource, organizations can reskill existing talent who may be interested in newer roles. Such efforts also have a positive impact on employee retention, satisfaction, and bottom-line growth. Upskilling existing employees is also an effective way to manage the skills gap. Building up on existing skills, especially human skills, can lead to improved productivity and employee satisfaction.
Bridging the skills gap
The modern workplace is constantly evolving and reskilling and upskilling, which have been a focus area for L&D programs in 2021, will continue to dominate this space.
If you’re facing a skills gap at your organization, speak to our expert about learning programs that will help you effectively bridge it.