A skills gap is the difference between the skills an employee has and the ones they need to do their job. It could also be the difference between the skills a company needs to achieve its strategic goals and the skills of its employees.
Knowing your skills gaps makes hiring easier as you can look for candidates with the skills your company needs. Identifying skills gaps can also help you create an effective training and development program for your employees. Keep reading to learn how to recognize skills gaps in your company and what to do once you identify them.
How can you recognize that you have a skills gap in your organization? Usually, this will be clear if there is a change in employee responsibilities. The new responsibilities may call for skills that the employee doesn't have. New company projects or the introduction of new technologies can also create skills gaps in your company.
Another indicator of a skills gap could be a bad performance review. It may demonstrate that an employee is unable to meet his/her objectives because they lack certain key skills. They would need training on the required skills for their position.
If the entire company isn’t meeting its business objectives, this may signify a companywide skills gap. A shift in business strategy may also call for new skills that your employees do not have.
Conducting a Skills Gap Analysis
If you suspect that an employee or your entire company has a skills gap, then you should investigate the problem. A skills gap analysis is a tool you can use to establish what skills an employee, department, or company currently has. Then you compare those existing skills to what is needed to achieve current and future goals.
To conduct a successful skills gap analysis, you must plan it like a project. Outline the scope, objectives, timelines and roles. The first step you need to take is to identify the skills needed for both current and future needs.
Rank the skills in order of importance so you can identify the skills you should focus on developing. It is easy to identify skills needed to accomplish current goals. This is because you can check what skills your employees need to do their job.
To identify future skills, you can look at your strategic vision as well as predicted industry trends. For instance, there is a lot of talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation. How ready are your employees for such technological advances? How does your team plan to use AI in talent management?
Once you know the skills your company needs, the next step is to establish if your employees possess them. In other words, conduct a companywide skill mapping and uncover the untapped value in your talent network by leveraging some of these tools:
• individual assessments
• performance reviews
• employee interviews
• skills management software
You must also note any skills and training that employees are undertaking and when they expect to complete the training or studies. This will help establish if you will have some required skills in the future.
When done well, a skills assessment will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your workforce. It will show you whether your employees have the skills needed by your company.
You may also discover that your employees have useful skills that could greatly benefit your company. Perhaps you are hiring externally for a social media expert when one of your employees does this as a hobby.
If you identify skills gap in your company, there are several strategies you can adopt to close the gap. The first step you should take is to train current employees on any skills they may be lacking. This is a great strategy if the skills will take a short time to learn, or if the training won’t be costly.
Training current employees has many benefits. For instance, it saves you recruitment costs and increases employee engagement and retention. Have an ongoing training and development program to stay ahead of your skills gaps.
Train employees on new technologies that hit the market so that your company can be ready for the future. You can develop courses based on business and industry changes and requirements. You must also have regular training sessions for the key skills your company needs.
Employees who want to advance into better positions can take the required training to prepare for any vacancies that may open up. For the longer term, you can start a succession plan for each position in your organization. This ensures that you aren’t caught off guard if any of your employees leave the company.
You could also have mentorship programs whereby you match employees with someone in a position they aspire to. It's also a great idea to have internship and management trainee programs to nurture young talent. This helps with succession planning and prevents future leadership gaps.
You should also partner with colleges and universities to influence their course curriculum. Companies often complain that graduates do not have the skills needed by their industries. Rather than complaining, you can be part of the solution by making suggestions for curriculum improvements.
If your company urgently needs a highly specialized skill, then you may need to hire an external candidate to fill the gap. To hire the right candidate, ensure that job adverts are crystal clear on the skills and qualifications needed.
It's also important to test all applicants so that you can be sure that the selected candidate possesses the required skill. You can do this through skills assessments, behavioral job interviews, and numeric and psychographic tests. Many companies have made the mistake of hiring someone because they interviewed well only to find that they are not qualified for the job.
A skills gap analysis is an important strategic management tool for identifying training and hiring needs in your company. The analysis could help you discover some hidden talents within your workforce that could help grow your company.
In case you identify any skills gaps it is best to upskill your present employees. This reduces your recruitment costs while it increases employee loyalty and engagement.
If you need help bridging the skills gap in your company or throughout your hiring process, request a demo today to see how we can help.