7 Ways to Address Skills Gaps in The Workplace

Skills gaps are becoming more common as society sees rapid technological evolution. Learn 7 ways to address skills gaps in the workplace.

Baby boomers may not have previously experienced such drastic changes in skills requirements for jobs, but today, as the world around us becomes more influenced by technology, skills gaps in many industries are becoming more common. There is a new need for updated skill sets that can adapt to the level of remote work and new technologies that are now required for the successful functioning of most organizations. This change has created a need for many companies to reskill or upskill their employees so there are no gaps in competencies required to attain organizational goals and achieve success. 

It’s important to identify if there are skills gaps within your company and find a solid means for addressing the skills gap. Ensuring that your employees have adequate skills to align with your business goals is essential. Identifying skills gaps and working to amend them will help you be more productive and effective. 

What is a skills gap?

A skills gap is where your employees lack a particular skill or set of skills that are necessary to reach certain organizational objectives. When it comes to employers, a skills gap is often signaled by a productivity loss, a loss in morale, higher turnover rates, a lack of problem-solving abilities, and a loss in profits, which can be very costly. When these signs begin to surface, it’s very important to determine which skills would be able to fill the skills shortage that has been identified, whether through hiring new talent or providing training and development opportunities to current team members. 

For employees, skills gaps often surface as frustrations or feelings of inadequacy because it becomes increasingly difficult to meet everyday performance requirements. Employees will also often feel as if they don’t have the support, tools, or resources needed to successfully adhere to their responsibilities with confidence. In these situations, HR should organize adequate training or hiring. 

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What is a skills gap analysis? 

A skills gap analysis is a strategy that is used to understand the space between the current skill level and workforce and the skills that are required to achieve organizational objectives. Creating a detailed plan of which skills you currently have and which skills you need will help give you a clear idea of what is required to be a successful workforce and what you need to do to get there in a realistic way. A skills gap analysis also helps you plan what kind of training, learning, and development employees feel that they need to be effective in their jobs. Supporting employees will also help with job satisfaction and retention!

Reasons for skills gaps 

1Tech developments

Technology can create skills gaps because it changes and evolves so quickly, which can make it quite challenging to continuously ensure that you have the tech skills required to be successful. Where there are gaps due to technological advancements, sometimes these gaps are accelerated with the common use of artificial intelligence and automation now in place. 

2Lack of training

Another reason skill gaps can exist is because of a lack of training. It’s becoming less and less common for companies to hire based on an applicant’s potential. Many businesses want someone to begin a job who has all of the experience they’re looking for, rather than investing time, attention, and energy into training and supporting existing employees. Expert candidates are tough to find and may easily get bored in a job that they can do with such ease. 

3Insufficient education 

In some instances, education can create skills gaps. It’s not always necessarily insufficient education (although it can be); sometimes, skills gaps are also caused by someone having an education in a different field than the one in which the job is. Addressing the skills gap in this instance can look like providing basic or digital skills through training. You can also incorporate small tests or exercises into interviews to ensure applicants are fit for the role. Try to avoid judging education on paper, as it is rarely indicative of someone’s abilities. 

7 ways to address the skills gap 

1Tap into diverse talent pools 

There are many ways you can begin addressing the skills gap within your organization. One way of doing so is by tapping into diverse talent pools that are less traditional and often more valuable to the business. This means looking to employ older adults who have lots of acquired skills and experience, creating a fair hiring process for people with disabilities, and considering recruiting global talent. Many individuals and their families are happy to have an opportunity overseas and to bring different skills and competencies to particular roles, giving you a competitive advantage. 

2Tweak the recruitment process 

If you’ve realized that there are some skills gaps in your workplace, think about revising your usual recruitment process. When recruiting, place your focus first on the skills and abilities required for the position. Think about which kinds of intangible skills you would like the candidate to possess and ensure that you’re giving job applicants a good opportunity to tell their stories and showcase their personalities. Value a strong willingness to learn and potential in candidates so you can ensure employee retention and satisfaction. It’s essential to think critically about diversity from every angle when hiring and to be open to nontraditional candidates. 

3Revise the hiring process

Along with your recruitment process, your hiring process should also be revised if you’re noticing skills gaps in the workplace. Think about the way in which you review resumes and post job advertisements and the actual skills and knowledge that you need for the job to be done successfully, rather than a particular education or background. Ensure you’re using software and tools that adequately provide you with the right information and candidates. Taking the time to go through applications slowly and with attention to detail will help you identify the right person to join your team. Consider who will be conducting the interviews and take charge of the hiring and onboarding process. 

4Offer efficient onboarding 

Offering an organized, clear, and straightforward onboarding process is key to filling a skills gap in the workplace. The onboarding process leaves a huge impression on the new employee and gives them an indication of the support they will feel in their role. It’s important to create a standardized onboarding process that can be used with all new employees, so managers of new employees feel confident and comfortable with the procedures that are to be followed. 

5Create a workplace strategy 

Creating a workplace strategy can be a very effective way of filling skills gaps. Creating partnerships with academic institutions and other organizations can be valuable for offering technical training and certificate programs. This kind of partnership or agreement can provide your company with applicant pools that are currently gaining the competencies that you are looking to acquire. Collaborating and providing your partnerships with real case studies, materials, or funding can be effective for future employees and for the business partnership. This way, potential future employees are informed about the kinds of challenges they may actually face on the job. 

6Encourage learning and development 

Encouraging learning and development with your current and prospective employees is another great way of addressing the skills gap that may exist in your organization. Ensure that recommending and encouraging continual learning is a priority for your HR department and leaders. Some ways of encouraging your workforce to engage in learning and development programs is to give them time off work, let them identify training programs that are of interest to them, and avoid being too strict about the nature of the training in which they’re engaging. Often, skills from all kinds of different training can be transferable to their roles. Offering benefits to employees who engage in training is another great way to promote continual learning and drive motivation. 

7Review the gap regularly 

Through your skills gap analysis, review the gap that exists regularly. The frequency of this review may depend on the size of the gap, but it’s a good idea to review your gap analysis on a monthly basis so you can track progress and drive accountability. Ensuring that the strategies you and your team are employing are effective is essential to the gap becoming smaller and eventually closing. If you aren’t seeing positive changes being made, it’s time to reevaluate the strategy and collaborate on a different way forward so you can acquire the skills and knowledge required for your business to thrive. 

Parting advice

Addressing the skills gap in the workplace can seem daunting, but there are many ways to work on acquiring the competencies that you and your team require to be successful. It’s important to ensure the needs of the company are being met, so you keep a competitive advantage and stay relevant in today’s quickly changing workforce, which is evolving because of technology, remote work, and more unconventional ways of operating. Refer back to this guide to go over how you can best identify if there are skills gaps present and how you can go about addressing them in the most effective way possible. The result is a more engaged, more motivated, and more satisfied workforce that has a greater ability to meet your business requirements!

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About the author

Kate Dagher

Kate Dagher (Postgraduate H.Dip Psychology and BA in Business Management) has a management and corporate consulting background, having worked in the public sector, sales, and corporate finance. Kate is fascinated about how our physical environments influence our thoughts, behaviours, actions and wellbeing. She is a certified yoga teacher, a passionate writer, and traveller.

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