U.S. executives at large companies confirm that a skill-gap persists for their businesses, with nearly half 1 in 2 concerned that they will not have the skills they need in the next one to two years. In a positive sign, 51 percent of companies expect to increase investments in training over the next two years, and 35 percent of executives whose companies are facing a skills shortage admitted that they have not invested enough in training in the past.
The biggest demand currently is for IT skills (44 percent) and engineering (36 percent), with R&D (29 percent) and sales (29 percent) close behind; these skills are particularly in demand among manufacturers. When looking at hiring overall, the retail, transportation, telecommunications and utilities industries are most in need of leadership, communications, people management and project management skills.
Overall, nearly one-third (31 percent) of executives surveyed anticipate increasing their workforce over the next one to two years, while 62 percent expect their hiring to remain the same. Among those who have or anticipate a skills shortage, 41 percent said it is because they can’t attract candidates with the skills they need to their industry, 38 percent would hire more people if they were getting qualified candidates, 26 percent are unable to pay what candidates want and 19 percent did not anticipate the skills they would need.
As executives explore and discuss the current skills gap and future skills needs, they are continuing to use new methods of delivering training to employees. The survey found that 42 percent use mobile delivery for training, 35 percent use social media, 27 percent use massive open online courses (MOOCs) and 13 percent use gamification.
These are 5 strategic keys for companies to close their skills gap:
1. Find a balance between formal and informal learning. As digital technology blurs the boundaries between formal and informal learning, companies should consider ways to strike a balance between the two and help ensure that they work in tandem. For instance, embedding learning in everyday work – shadowing others, mentorships, or learning from peers through online forums – can help formal online or classroom training become more relevant and more effective.
2. Embrace new ways to develop skills. Other recent scalable developments are helping training become more relevant, such as social media tools that facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing, gamification that immerses employees in virtual scenarios, and mobile training delivery that allows learning to take place wherever and whenever an employee happens to be.
3. Expand your candidate pool. Given the reported difficulty of finding qualified candidates, companies should consider dropping the notion of finding the “perfect” candidate based on a list of specific skills, education or experience. Instead, they could look for candidates with more generalist skills – even those outside their industry, in other geographies, or with adjacent or overlapping skill sets – that can easily be developed to perform the job.
4. Screen talent based on newly emerging data sources. Instead of screening potential candidates based on key words in a resume, exploit new data sources as part of the effort to get fuller and more predictive insights into future performance. For example, emerging websites offer samples of a candidate’s work, assessments that gauge a person’s cultural fit and motivations, or social media contributions that can reveal their interests.
5. Invest earlier in the talent supply chain. Leading companies are partnering with colleges and universities to review and revise curricula so relevant skills are acquired as part of their programs. Some companies are even setting up open access training programs to ensure that more people have the skills they need in specific regions. Once trained, the first right of employment is with the company that trained them.
** Share the BLM Magazine with your executive colleagues and friends!
Follow the Magazine:
(After you have filled in your email address in the column at the right hand side of the screen, a confirmation email will sent to your email address. You will have to confirm it before subscription begins)
Follow us on Twitter:
Like us on Facebook:
**As part of the Magazine’s drive to reward subscribers/followers, we will be providing subscribers/followers special access to exclusive content which will not be otherwise available to normal visitors. Please be sure to subscribe to the Magazine. Many visitors have given us positive comments that they will be bookmarking the site, but as the system is unable to capture a working email address to which the passcodes for exclusive content will be sent, they will miss out on this content. Do note that passcodes are locked to each exclusive content, not a one-for-all access, so do provide a working email address that you check regularly so as not to miss out on them!