Taking a Creative Approach to Closing the Skills Gap

The skills gap.

One of the most pervasive problems companies report facing right now, which is quite a paradox, considering the unemployment situation.

Let’s take a look at the numbers, as noted in a report from Career Builder entitled “The Shocking Truth About the Skills Gap:”

closing-skills-gap

  • Over ½ of the businesses that responded to the survey say they have positions that are unfilled and that they’re having trouble filling because of what they say is a lack of qualified candidates.
  • Most employers say they have hired a candidate who doesn’t fit the necessary requirements, which then leads to what’s referred to as a “built-in” skills gap requiring on-the-job training.
  • Only ½ of employers feel training is something that should be shared equally amongst themselves and their employees.
  • Where there are vacancies in a company, existing employees tend to report feeling overworked and they also tend to have lower morale.
  • Over half of job seekers feel there is a skills gap in the U.S., which they attribute to education gaps as well as gaps in on-the-job training.

This is just one of the many studies on the issue of a skills gap, because it continues to come up in economic and workforce conversations.

So if you’re a company and you feel your primary issue or talent management pitfall is a skills gap, what do you do to close it, creatively?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Create partnerships with local colleges, universities and technical schools. When you’re able to invest in education and develop this type of partnership you can create programs that will put students on the path to being able to fill skills gaps in your own organization post-graduation. Organizations are finding it beneficial to actually begin fostering talent early-on and guide the education of the students they hope will become their future employees. This can be particularly beneficial for the hard-to-fill technology, math and engineering positions.
  • Create a culture of learning. Even if you don’t immediately identify your organization as having a significant skills gap, this is still important to remain competitive. Dedication to continual training, learning and development is what sets high-performing organizations apart from their competitors, and when you invest time and resources into robust training and L&D, you’re likely to not only fill a current skills gap, but also avoid one in the future because there will be better opportunities to promote from within.
  • Develop internship programs. This is similar to partnering with educational institutions, but is another take on tapping into fresh, new talent before they even fully enter the job market. With an internship you can provide hands-on training and education and really start developing talent before that person becomes a full-time employee.
  • Consider a more flexible work environment. If you have an open position that you can’t seem to fill, think outside the box in terms of hiring—consider hiring a remote employee, for example. This allows you to source talent from across the globe if it’s necessary, and really lets you get outside of geographic parameters that may be limiting your organization. You may also consider flexible work week options to lure in new top talent.
  • Develop your employer brand. There may be great talent, even in your local area, that could fill your open positions but you may not be connecting with that talent. Expand your employer brand and begin marketing yourself to not just customers but also potential job seekers. Do this by creating a great candidate experience, using new channels to reach potential employers and having a robust candidate portal that makes it easy and gives potential candidates a great deal of access to information about your company and your open positions. You can also market yourself by putting your organization out there—this is often advice we hear given to job seekers, but why shouldn’t the same apply to companies with a skills gap? Get into your community, tap into your resources, build databases, attend networking events—just make it all part of your overall talent management strategy and take the approach that you’re leaving no stone unturned.

How do you close the skills gap if one exists in your company, and how do you see this issue playing out in the future economy and workforce?

October 23, 2014   Updated :March 25, 2015   recruiting, recruitment, skills, skills gap   

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