Mar 30

Skills gap in the workplace: Understanding and addressing this key issue

Hiring Talent Online

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Let’s define what skill is vs talent

The definition of a skill is a learned ability to perform an action, this could be anything from coding, designing, teaching or listening. A talent is an aptitude to perform that skill at a certain level. Skills and talent work hand in hand to create a brilliant candidate but are also an opportunity to upskill employees you already have.

Skills gap in the workplace: Understanding and addressing this key issue 1

What is the skills gap?

The skills gap is the deficit of core skills within an organisation that are needed to action growth, success and stability. Basically, it’s the divide between the skills employees possess and the skills employers expect their workforce to have.
In 2021 70% of companies reported a skills deficit, a 15 year high. This can exist in any team or department, but mainly organisations are seeing this within tech fields as the needs fast outpace the talent supply.

Understanding the skills gap

You may have heard of the skills gap. Perhaps from articles and journals, or perhaps from your managers and work teams. When discussing skills gaps, usually closing this gap is the topic at hand. Closing the skills gap can feel daunting, but learning why and how to hire for skills within your organisation will also be key to unlocking success in the workplace in 2022.

The Skills Gap Infographic

Skill gap examples:

Employers look for two sets of skills when considering a candidate’s job application and interview performance — hard and soft skills.

Hard skills are specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured, such as typing, writing, math, reading and the ability to use software programs.

Soft skills, on the other hand, are less tangible and harder to quantify, such as getting along with others, managing your time, creative thinking and the ability to lead.

Top hard skills that are missing in workplaces in 2022

 

– Data analysis

This skill is necessary for a huge range of jobs and in many different industries. From proficiently using Excel to R, Python and Tableau, giving meaningful insights into large amounts of data is always going to be an important skill to have. Do an Excel course and improve your skills there to improve your data analysis abilities.

– Tech skills

The most talked-about gap in the current economy is that of tech skills. Organisations across the globe are reporting difficulty in finding the necessary tech skills such as coding, web design, software development and the list goes on. This is largely due to the rapid rate of development and growth within this field and the relatively slower skills uptake and learning processes.

Top soft skills that are missing

 

– Critical thinking and creativity

Another skills gap being felt is that of creativity and critical thinking. These would be considered soft skills, rather than hard ones like a trade, but are equally important for business growth. Teams that lack innovation and problem-solving skills will find themselves woefully behind their competition.

To prepare for an interview or demonstrate your problem-solving skills think of a time you faced a problem and how you overcame this as well, think of the task, the actions and the results.

So how can you establish where your organisation’s skills gaps are?

One of the best ways to do this would be through a skill gap analysis, which lets you figure out what skills you do have, what you need and what’s missing and then how to address this.

What is a skill gap analysis?

A skills gaps analysis is an audit of the needs and opportunities of talent within your organisation, as well as the skills that are needed for an upcoming project or development and then job redesigning. Doing a skills gap analysis is a way to assess the actual state, future state and goal state of the knowledge within your organisation. You can do this on an individual level or for a specific team or entire organisation. Some people use a template or tools (here is one organisational developmental tool) that will help you step by step to conduct the skills gap analysis.

Another option is a qualitative approach which was presented by Antonucci and Domenico d’Ovidio who designed an algorithm that measures the gap of each competency for every examined subject.

How can you close the skills gap? Addressing the problem through recruiting methods



Now that we have described and understood what skills gaps in the workplace are, let’s look at some practical action steps that can be taken toward closing the skills gap.

1. Hire freelancers

One of the most popular, and quick, ways to find the talent you need is to hire freelancers. Freelancers can offer key skills at crucial times for relatively little cost to the company. Without the onboarding, contracts and legal scope of a full-time employee, they can offer a low-risk high-reward solution. But using freelancers can be a double-edged sword for all the above reasons too.

Freelancers tend to not have the same cultural buy-in as full-time employees. Without the onboarding and benefits that come with an employment contract, they can sometimes be fickle or might turn down work at crucial moments.

Freelancers also tend not to have the granular insight into your organisation’s specific problems, solutions and goals that become so key for sustainable growth.

And that’s where hiring to close the skills gap comes in. Let’s take a look at how to do this.

 2. Hire with a focus on diversity and inclusion

DEI (Diversity, equity and inclusion) is your golden ticket to a skills-based team. Beyond race, gender and ability, you can also explore often-overlooked talent pools such as older employees, global talent, formerly incarcerated individuals and fresh graduates.

While graduates may lack experience, a solid upskilling program and strong company culture can turn them into one of your greatest assets.

3. Upskill your current employees

Closing the skills gaps doesn’t always need to come from outside your organisation. Sometimes it really is the skills, and not the people, that are missing. Hire for motivated, curious teams to fortify your business for the future. Then, provide those teams with the necessary training and upskilling to keep ahead of the competition.

In today’s skills landscape, we can longer rely on degrees or qualifications we received a decade ago to provide us with the skills we need to succeed in the workplace. The rate of knowledge development is just too fast. Constant unlearning and relearning is required, and as a company, you should be striving to keep that fresh knowledge within your teams.

Some organisations provide a learning stipend as part of their benefits package, others will provide the learning internally. Whatever your approach, your employees will be grateful for the opportunity to expand their skills and become a lifelong learner.

4. Revise your hiring procedure

Are you dragging applicants through numerous rounds of unnecessary interviews and tests that cause them to drop out of the process? Consider looking at which steps of your recruitment process can be streamlined and which add the most value. Perhaps your job descriptions focus too heavily on experience and education and not enough on the skills and abilities required for the job?

For example, an assignment might be the best option for a graphic designer with fewer interviews, while a sales position might benefit from more verbal assessments. Adapting your approach to the skills needed for the position will help you identify the best candidate.

  • Staying up to date with hiring software that works best

Is your application software working against you rather than for you? If your hiring process isn’t going to help you close skills gaps and if you are not using up to date recruitment technology you should probably be concerned. While automation has been a revolution in the recruitment process, you can often lose out on qualified candidates. Conduct regular spot checks of automatically rejected candidates to ensure that qualified people are not being screened out by outdated filters.

Platforms like Nomad Now use algorithms to help identify the best candidate match for your job post based not only on experience and education but soft skills too. When a candidate fills out a profile, they get the opportunity to present the skills that would be most valuable to your organisation. This helps you screen for the best talent for the role and put a human-centric lens on a highly intelligent algorithm.

5. Map out your skills needs and conduct a skills gap analysis

But, before you start hiring or upskilling it’s crucial to take stock of your skills needs. Doing a full audit of your talent, company structure and personnel will help you pinpoint exactly where your gaps are. Using the tools mentioned you can conduct a skills gap analysis that will help you in various ways. You may find that you have people that are better suited, or motivated to try, new roles, you can even rehire your own staff and redesign their jobs according to skills they may have. Lateral progression shouldn’t be overlooked as you redistribute skills across your organisation. This helps you keep organisational insight and disseminate it through your departments so that every team has the best arsenal of skills possible.

For job seekers, we encourage you to upskill and enable yourself to present skills that are in critical demand.

For hirers and employers, we encourage you to take note of your skill gaps, conduct a skills gap analysis and upskill or rehire accordingly – Nomad Now is a great recruitment platform to start with.

 


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If you are entering the world of work and want to work online flexibily or find a permanet psoition you can sign up here and start your job search.
For more insights into the world of work, recruitment and skills check out more of our blogs.

About the author 

Sarah Mason

Sarah is a freelance writer and social media content creator working on brands across industries from recruitment to lifestyle and B2B. She is also a full time Learning Designer specialising in digital skills, workforce development and jobseeker empowerment in emerging markets across Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her passion is seeing people and teams thrive, especially within the SME space.

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