How to Identify and Close Skills Gaps in Your Workforce

Every business wants to cultivate a skilled workforce. Unfortunately, skill gaps exist and can go unnoticed. They are proven to hurt companies in several ways.

A skill gap is an area that shows a deficiency in performance due to a lack of a skill or skills. It doesn’t mean that no skills are present, only that the ones required to do a job effectively are missing.

CareerBuilder conducted a survey and found that two out of three employers were worried about skills gaps affecting their business. Over half of the respondents said that they have personally witnessed the negative effects of skill gaps.

The study reported that productivity was most affected by a 45% loss. Businesses with skill gaps also saw 40% more employee turnover and 39% lower morale. Work quality was 37% less and there was a revenue loss of 26%. That can equal thousands of dollars lost in productivity and worker retention.

Addressing this problem now is essential to strengthening your organization and preparing it for the future. Advanced technology increases the demand for knowledgeable workers. Top talent entering the job market wants to join companies that supply educational opportunities.

President of talent acquisition for CareerBuilder Jason Lovelace explained that “As we look ahead to the next five years, we’re seeing that more jobs across all industries – not just STEM – are requiring tech in their daily tasks.”

“As this trend continues to grow, candidates will need to continue their education and upskilling to meet the requirements of the changing workforce.”

The bottom line is that leadership in your organization must be proactive to identify and close skills gaps before they become a problem. What can you do to find areas that need improvement?

Assess Your Workforce

You need to begin by gathering data on your employees and productivity. There are several ways to do this. One is to look for key performance indicators (KPIs). These determine individual contributions and are closely tied to compensation, promotions, and retention.

You can also administer employee assessments. Many LMS platforms include built-in assessment features so you can do this quickly and accurately. Your assessments should be based on real-life work scenarios to be effective.

Another method is the 360-Degree Review. This process involves soliciting feedback on an employee’s performance from managers, direct reports, and peers. You can also include external people in this process, like clients and vendors. This provides a deeper understanding of that person’s contributions.

Focus groups are another option.

You should use at least three methods to ensure that the data you receive provides a complete picture of your workforce.

Create a Business Strategy

If you want to figure out what skills are needed, you must set goals and build a strategy to reach them.

The specifics will vary from one business to the next. For example, if you want to encourage more online customer service interactions, you may need to update your customer relationship management. That might mean improved technology and people with training in this area.

You should also include long and short-term milestones. This will give you smaller goals to work toward as well as larger, more time-consuming objectives to continue moving your business forward.

List the Roles Needed to Reach Goals

Now that you know what you want to achieve, you can figure out who you need on your team to get there. Build a list of roles that will be required. You can review industry profiles and jobs reports to determine how others have achieved similar objectives.

Since your goals and strategy will be unique, you may not have the same roles as other organizations. That’s ok. You can review industry information to put together a team that fits your business needs.

Inventory and Compare Skills

Using your list of roles, you can figure out which skills each job requires. Next, you should inventory your current workforce’s skills. The difference between the two lists will reveal areas that are missing and must be filled to put your strategy into action.

Alternatively, you could hire a recruitment firm that specializes in comparative studies. They are out there and may be a better alternative if you have the resources to pay for the service. You can also look for official classifications of occupations published by countries. These lists usually describe the job role and outline the skills needed to fill it.

Remember to consider mastery level as well as the skill itself. Some job roles may share similar skill sets, but one may need a higher degree of knowledge and experience to fill. You should also be aware of who the skill experts are on your team.

Build a Training Program

Build a training program that covers the skill gaps you need to close. You can create your own content or find pre-made courses elsewhere. Some LMS providers also offer access to marketplaces that list existing classes made for specific business goals or job roles.

This is also a good time to consult your skill experts. You can turn them into content experts to help you curate training resources or provide support to learners.

Close the Skill Gap

Once your training program is established, it’s time to get employees enrolled. Spread the word and keep everyone up to date on available training. An LMS is a good way to organize and track your gap-closing efforts as well as keep training costs down. Visit LMS.org to read reviews of popular learning management systems for businesses.