How to Conquer Skills Gap
Conquering the skills gap is one of the top challenges facing businesses today. Employers are finding fewer and fewer skilled or even knowledgeable applicants to fill available jobs. The gap created between the positions available and the skills needed to fulfill them has slowed or even destroyed many businesses. In this article, we’re going to explain the skills gap and give you a concrete war plan to conquer it.
How Did We Get Here? The Skills Gap Explained
The term skills gap is used to describe the gap between the skills needed by employers and the actual capabilities of employees or candidates. Jobs are available, but skilled or even properly educated candidates are nowhere to be found. Even though many graduates are on unemployment or struggling to find a job, they do not have the education, training, or skills to get one of the many jobs available.
A variety of different factors has created a skills gap in the world marketplace, especially in the United States. Here are the main culprits:
- Baby Boomers Retiring Boom- The baby boomer generation took the United States by storm from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s. Now all those boomers are reaching retirement age, and as the economy has slowly turned around, they are ready to leave the workforce. The sheer number of retirees would affect any workforce, but this workforce has other issues to face.
- Tech Changing at Lightning Fast Speeds- Somewhere in the last five to 10 years there has been a technological watershed moment where technology started changing almost too quickly for proper training and education. Now, even long-term employees with experience and knowledge are struggling to keep up.
- Wrong Education- To make matters worse, today’s universities and colleges are not training students for the jobs of tomorrow or even the jobs of today. Studies have shown that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) careers have high demands and higher wages, and a projection for long-term financial security. These jobs are available now, and as technology continues to change, they will continue to be available. However, these are not the degrees coming out of universities and colleges. Here are a few of the most popular degrees
- Biological and Biomedical Sciences
- Social Sciences
- Health Professions
The problem is, these are not the skills companies need the most.
- Lack of Experience- Since there are so few people choosing fields of study in the careers that have a high demand for work, there are few people with experience. Even though experience isn’t everything, employers still love experienced and skilled candidates. Today’s workforce is currently missing those candidates.
All of these issues have contributed to the huge gap that is currently happening between the skills needed from companies and the skills available in applicants. However, bridging this gap isn’t impossible. There are concrete solutions that can help your company bridge the gap and propel your business into the future.
Creating a War Plan. How to Conquer the Skills Gap
While the skills gap is challenging, it is possible for your company to bridge that gap by implementing a few new programs and making a few adjustments. Here is where to start.
Create a Forecast & Strategy for Where Your Company is Going- Before you begin the hiring process, create a business strategy for the positions you need. Using research from your HR department and your business department, make a forecast of the positions you will need to fill not just today but in the following years to come. Ask these questions:
- How many applicants will we need?
- What skills are most important for this job?
- Do these skills currently exist?
- If these skills don’t exist, can we create them through training and education after hiring?
Once you’ve determined which skills you need you can begin to partner with other organizations to find them.
Partner with Learning Institutions- Start talking to universities, colleges, and technical schools to let them know the skills you need. Schools can then advise their students of these opportunities and even offer internships for your business to help you train and attract future employees.
Hire for Attitude and Aptitude- If a candidate doesn’t have all the skills you need, don’t turn them down immediately. Look at their attitude and their knowledge. Do they have the desire to learn and grow? If so, hiring them could improve your company for years to come.
Offer Education & Training to All- With the major changes constantly occurring in technology, training is the foundation for a successful business. When you start your training program, don’t just train to fit the need or to fix problems. Train for future developments. Encourage long-term employees to use training to increase their knowledge and earning power.
Don’t Rule Out Temporary Hires- A lot of today’s workers value flexibility. An individual contractor or consultant might be the perfect fit for the position you have available. Offer contracting positions or even contract-to-hire positions to allow for flexibility for both the candidate and your company.
The skills gap can be conquered with determination, innovation, and training. Implement these changes in your company and you’ll find the candidates you need to fill any position.