Okay, so if you’re in the corporate world and haven’t been living under a rock, then you’ve heard about “the skills gap” in corporate America today. It isn’t a new concept, it has been around for many years and will continue to be widely discussed and experienced. There are almost 12 million Americans who are currently unemployed and meanwhile 3 million plus jobs that go unfilled in the US. This chasm between unemployment and job availability is known as the skills gap.
We know the skills gap exists (though some disagree) and it is definitely a problem, but rather than continue to debate about its existence, we want to dive into ways to go about fixing it.
This article includes 3 main areas of focus to aid your organization in defending against the skills gap. Within each category, there is a checklist to ensure you’re on the right track to close the skills gap for good within your company.
Shift Your Recruiting Strategies
35% of companies have unfilled positions for 12 weeks or longer. This period of lag time can be tremendously expensive for your business. Why does this happen? Often times companies will spend an enormous amount of time and money to find the “perfect hire” but then they don’t reserve enough money and time for training (which leads to the skills gap). Yes, the perfect hire could be out there, but it can be an expensive and lengthy process to locate them. Nurturing the skills of a “good hire” is a more tactful recruiting approach. To do this, shift your recruiting strategy.
√ Focus on your candidates’ attitude as opposed to skillset. Attitude and overall persona is something that cannot be taught, whereas skills can be.
√ Consider your candidates in comparison to your company culture. Does their personality fit well with the mission, values and internal culture of the company? Once again, these inherent traits are those which cannot be learned but are increasingly beneficial to the success of your hires.
√ When considering your candidates’ skillsets, segregate the soft skills and life skills from the hard skills. Hard skills shouldn’t be as pertinent to the hire as their experiential skills and their overall character. Hard skills can be learned in the workplace and through effective training.
Invest in Onboarding
40% of employees who aren’t properly trained leave within a year of hire. Even if you’ve spent your entire recruiting budget to secure that “perfect hire,” neglecting their onboarding process could be your downfall. Nobody likes to feel unprepared in their position and in fact this feeling of unpreparedness is what leads employees to leave positions within such short time frames. Don’t make the mistake of investing solely into recruitment, then minimally in training. Those hard skills you’ve hired for can only go so far if your hire isn’t a good fit for your company.
√ Hiring managers must recognize and embrace that a majority of new hires will not have all the hard skills necessary to do their job out of the gates. Onboarding takes patience and encouragement, but ultimately pays off in the form of employee retention.
√ Put time, energy and creativity into skills training. Use innovative ways to engage your new hires and they will naturally inherit the necessary skills to do their jobs well. Unsure how to engage your trainees? Read our blogpost “4 Secrets to Engaging Employees During Training” for some ideas.
√ Provide a variety of ways for trainees to learn and consume their training materials. Instructor led sessions are great, but pairing them with mobile and digital options for remote training is even better. This gives your trainees the opportunity to review whenever and wherever they want.
Create a Culture of Learning
Only 41% of employees say they get opportunities to grow within their companies, and just over one-fifth of employees say self-directed learning is important to their employers. The best performing employees are those who get the opportunity to stay abreast to the latest industry trends, techniques and skills. But surprisingly, ongoing training isn’t as highly supported as you would assume. Building a culture of learning within your organization is crucial to the long-term success and productivity of your workforce. Training shouldn’t end when your hire is transitioned into the field, it should continue on, all throughout the life of their employment.
√ Create an ongoing training calendar and stick to it as you would with any other team calendar. Professional development should be portrayed as an equally important piece to your employees’ job as any other aspect. Not only does this create a stronger workforce for your organization but it also tells your employees that you are invested in them.
√ Promote many different types of learning including conferences, workshops, webinars, team brainstorm sessions, readings and even “gamification” techniques. Make learning a weekly focus- management should be sharing valuable training information any time they come across is (so long as it’s relevant).
√ Try these “7 Best Practices to Create a Culture of Learning in Your Workplace” for some more helpful hints about ongoing training.
70% of organizations cite capability gaps as one of their top 5 challenges today. Try these checklist items for your recruitment and onboarding then continue developing your workforces’ skills by creating a culture of learning. That gap will be closed in your organization in no time!
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