06 Sep Upskilling, Reskilling, and Closing Skills Gaps
It’s been a long year of Zoom calls and social distancing, and as we slowly emerge from our pandemic cocoons, it’s clear that the workplace will never be the same. The past year has accelerated many workplace trends that were already in motion, such as the shift to hybrid and flexible work arrangements. And while some of these changes may be temporary, others are here to stay.
One of the most profound changes the pandemic has brought about is a renewed focus on learning and development. Learning has become a core competency for both individuals and organizations. For individuals, learning new skills helps future-proof their careers; for organizations, training their workforce helps ensure they have the talent needed to meet their organization’s goals.
The pandemic has also exacerbated skills gaps and highlighted inequalities in the workforce. As we move into a post-COVID world, companies will increasingly need to provide learning and development opportunities for all employees, regardless of job title or seniority. Industry business leaders have been addressing skills gaps to improve organizational performance. By investing in their workforce, companies not only build a more resilient organization but also create a more level playing field for everyone.
What is a Skills Gap?
A skills gap exists when too few or none of an organization’s employees possess the skills required to meet the company’s needs. Skills gaps can emerge around hard or soft skills. They can develop quickly as the organization’s products, services, or goals change or as technology and workplace norms shift. While it can be difficult to identify a skills gap before it becomes a problem, some signs may indicate that a gap is developing. If you notice that employees are struggling to keep up with new technologies or processes, it may be time to consider whether additional training is needed. Addressing a skills gap early on can help prevent bigger problems. By investing in a learning and development strategy, companies can ensure that their employees have the skills to succeed.
Importance of Skills Gap Analysis
We all have skills gaps – it’s what makes learning experiences interesting. If we knew everything, we’d be bored stiff. Imagine going to a training course on, say, financial forecasting, and the trainer said, “There’s nothing to learn here – you all know everything already.” You wouldn’t exactly jump for joy, would you?
As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. In today’s corporate world, that couldn’t be truer. The most successful companies always look for ways to give their employees an edge. One way to do this is through learning and development (L&D), giving employees opportunities for professional development. By doing skill gap analysis and providing tailored training, organizations can help their employees reach their full potential. This, in turn, can lead to increased job satisfaction, decreased turnover, and enhanced customer satisfaction. In a highly competitive marketplace, the ability to maximize the potential of every single employee can give you a real leg up on the competition.
In business, though, a lot is riding on getting things right the first time, so it’s important to identify employees’ knowledge gaps and fill them with targeted learning and development (L&D). Only then can they reach their potential and contribute fully to the company. And when everyone is firing on all cylinders, the company outperforms its rivals and increases profitability.
Conducting a Skills Gap Analysis
To get everyone in the best possible shape, businesses need to know what their employees need or which skills they need to improve their jobs. This is the importance of conducting a skills gap analysis. In identifying the areas in which employees need more training or development, businesses can focus their efforts on fixing those shortcomings. A skills gap analysis can also help companies identify new growth opportunities by determining which skills are in high demand but in short supply. Here are the steps in performing a skills gap analysis:
- Define the key objectives of your company to enhance business performance.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the skills gap will vary from business to business. However, a good place to start is by defining your company’s objectives. Revisit and reestablish your key performance indicators (KPIs). Once you know what you’re trying to achieve, you can start to identify the skills that are necessary for your employees to be successful. Once you understand your priorities, you can start to pinpoint where your employees may be falling short. By setting specific goals and target outcomes, you can better measure whether or not your team has the necessary skills to be successful. If not, you can begin to develop a strategy to fill any gaps.
- Identify the roles required for reaching those goals
This can be tricky because sometimes we’re so close to our job that we can’t see the forest for the trees. Start by looking at the job descriptions of the roles required to reach your company’s goals. What skills are mentioned in those job descriptions? Are there any absent skills? If so, that’s a good indication of where your company’s skills gap lies.
- Assess the present situation
The first step in addressing any issue is learning that there is a problem. If you’re not happy with the state of your company, then you need to take a good, hard look at what’s causing the discrepancy. It’s possible that you don’t have the right skills in place to reach your SMART goals or strategy. It’s possible that you need further talent learning and development strategies.
An example of this is conducting a skills assessment. This will help you determine which areas need to perform better. You can then focus on developing training content or better learning programs or hiring new employees with the necessary skills. By taking these steps to close the skills gap, you’ll be better equipped to perform towards your desired results.
Benefits of Skills Gap Analysis
The results of a skills gap analysis can be summed up in one word: enlightening. Assessing where your employees’ skills and knowledge fall short helps you identify areas where you need to focus your training and learning efforts. You may also find that some of your employees are underutilized and can be reassigned to a job that would better use their skills.
Most importantly, a skills gap analysis will help you identify potential risk areas in your company. If you have many employees who lack the necessary skills to do their jobs, your company is vulnerable. With a clear understanding of your team’s strengths and weaknesses, you can take steps to mitigate this risk.
Closing the Skills Gap through Upskilling and Reskilling
While there are many tools, practices, and learning programs for managers to look into, the best way to mitigate this risk is by upskilling and reskilling your employees to stay competitive. There are several practices to close skills gaps, but upskilling and reskilling are two of the most effective. Upskilling and reskilling will create resources for your company and better tools for your employees for overall business performance.
Upskilling is increasing an employee’s skill set to help them perform well or improve their job. Simply put, teaching them new skills and new knowledge that can give them better performance in their existing jobs. Upskill training is conducted in either formal or informal learning setups, as long as learning objectives are met. Many employees become comfortable with their current skills, especially if they can perform well in their current job. However, in the ever-changing business world, new skills will inevitably be required in their current roles to stay competitive.
Upskilling employees has several benefits:
- It keeps a business competitive – a human capital that’s always up to date on the skills required in their industry puts a business at an advantage. This means that the business can adapt to changes in its industry with ease.
- It increases employee retention – when employees see a lack of growth, or if they feel that there’s nothing more to learn, they perform poorly or worse, leave. Constantly upskilling employees keeps them interested in their roles when they see that one of your business priorities is talent development and provide them with a path that can lead to career growth. This is a good boost towards employee engagement and employee development.
- It saves on business costs – There will always be costs involved in upskilling employees, but giving them proper tools is nothing compared to, for example, replacing and training a new one for a new job.
This is the process of learning an entirely new skill set for an entirely different job. With the advent of AI and digital transformation, a job can suddenly become obsolete. Upon the discovery of new technology, one or multiple practices or roles being done manually by people can easily be taken on by a single machine. This is especially significant for business units that have a multigenerational workforce. This is where reskilling comes into play. When a role becomes obsolete, you now have a choice on what to do with your employee; let them go or have them do a different strategic role. The question is, which is more efficient for a business? You guessed it, having them do a different role. For an employee to work in the capacity of a different role, they will need to be reskilled with the skills required for that job.
Benefits of Reskilling
- It reduces employee turnover – when employees are no longer happy or become disinterested in their current roles due to changes, they tend to leave. However, giving the option to do other roles within a company rather than leaving is a good way to retain talent. This reduces the overall costs of rehiring and being able to leverage the experience that your employee has in the organization to meet business goals faster.
- It helps prevent layoffs and the rehiring process – when a role becomes obsolete due to new technologies, laying employees off has been the old-school way of dealing with it. However, that has proven very costly, as it involves severance costs, among other things. Plus, you will need to hire new employees for new roles that may have also come about because of the new technology. Rather than laying off and hiring, it would far be more efficient to reskill an existing employee instead. This also helps keep the morale high.
Both upskilling and reskilling require training, resulting in a more skilled and adaptable workforce. By upskilling and reskilling employees, businesses can close skills gaps and better position themselves for success in the future.
Need assistance in performing skills gaps analysis for your organization? Reach out to us! Our team of professional trainers can help identify skills gaps in your business and help close them.