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Bridging the Skills Gap

Knowledge Center / Blog

Bridging the Skills Gap

By Mike Beringer, SHRM-CP, HR Business Partner - Apr 17, 2019

There’s currently a fierce war for talent: Seven million job openings are competing for the talent of just 6.3 million job-seekers—a talent shortfall of 700,000. To make matters more challenging, there exists a pervasive skills gap between the skills American employees and job-seekers bring to the table and the skills needed by companies. Two-thirds of businesses believe applicants lack the skills necessary to meet the demands of their organization, and half believe their current workforce is under-skilled.

The most commonly-noted skills that are lacking are:

  • problem-solving and critical thinking (e.g., creativity and analysis);
  • ability to deal with ambiguity and take initiative;
  • ability to communicate effectively; and
  • technical abilities—those specialized skills used to complete a job, such as carpentry, software and technology knowledge, or machining.

Businesses all too often focus on external efforts, like increasing advertising and recruitment dollars, to fill the skills gap.  However, the most effective option, and the one that can solve unmatched skill sets specific to your organization, is to focus on internal initiatives to upskill your team and applicants:

  1. Hire employees for fit. Instead of focusing specifically on technical abilities when hiring new employees, focus instead on the individual. Identify whether the prospective employee is a cultural fit, whether they are eager to learn, and if they’re willing to contribute—not just if they’re a whizz with Microsoft Office. If an employee is eager to learn your business and have a positive impact on his/her work, you’re more likely to see them learn the technical aspects of the job more quickly.
  2. Formalize an onboarding process for new hires. A formal onboarding experience allows employees to be acquainted with the business, their jobs, and their coworkers. It’s also a time for managers to share institutional knowledge and specific technical skills related to the completion of their job. Sharing institutional knowledge and the “why” behind what you do provides employees a better understanding of their jobs and the skills needed to do the job well.
  3. Provide training programs for current employees. Coordinating seminars, mentorships, lunch and learns, or case studies allows you to close the skills gap at your organization without having to hire new employees. Identify the needed skill(s) and align learning programs to specifically address your business needs.
  4. Focus on retention efforts. Invest in your current team through qualified candidate selection, successful onboarding and training, and, just as important, recognize a job well done. Retaining great employees has a tangible impact on your business, prevents you from having to fight for talent to fill the open job, and can increase productivity among team members.

Business owners and managers don’t need to face the challenging talent landscape alone, and the skills gap won’t be closed overnight. Investing in your employees, facing applicants with an open mind, and sharing a little appreciation can help to shrink the gap within your organization.

At TEG, we partner with our clients to attract, engage, and retain top talent. One of our HR and/or payroll experts can work with you to identify the right solution for your business to bridge the skills gap. Contact us to see how we can help!

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