Conducting a Skills Gap Analysis
A skills gap analysis is the difference between the skills that employers seek or need, and the skills that the employees offer. In order to conduct a skills gap analysis, the organisation needs to identify skills that it needs in order to meet its business goals.
Let’s take a look at how you can effectively conduct a skills gap analysis:
Planning Properly (Skills Gap Analysis)
There are two levels at which you can perform a skills gap analysis – individual level and at the organisation/team level.
- Individual Level: At an individual level, you need to identify the skills that a particular job or role requires and compare them to the present or actual skills at an employee level. At an individual level usually, a team leader is in charge of the process. You need to conduct a skills gap analysis when an employee’s role changes, in case of a poor performance review, or if there is a requirement for new skills for a promotion or for a new project. You can fill these kinds of skills gap with training, succession planning, and by taking mentoring initiatives.
- Organisation/Team Level: At an organisation or team level you need to determine if your employees possess the required skills to work on an upcoming project or if you need external resources. This analysis helps you to decide upon training programs required for your employees in order to develop their skills for a particular project or role. At an organisation or team level, usually, the HR or External Consultants is in charge of the process. The ideal time to conduct a skills gap analysis is when you are facing issues to meet your business goals, in times of strategy shifts which require new skills or developing old one, or while using new technologies. You can address these kinds of skills gaps by hiring externally, conducting training programs, and by taking mentoring initiatives.
The HR needs to initiate an organisation wide skills gap analyses by organising a meeting with managers to discuss and explain the process. Hiring an external consultant to conduct a skills gap analysis may also be a good idea. It makes the process more objective and avoids eating up the productive time of employees.
Identifying Key Skills
Some organisations are of the opinion that they find it difficult to fill jobs because of skills gap analysis. However, a couple of others argue that skills gap analysis is nothing but a set of unrealistic expectations. You can identify the key skills that you need by asking the below two questions to yourself:
- What kind of skills do we really value as an organisation?
- What type of skills do the employees need in order to do their jobs effectively now as well as in future?
You need to take into consideration your organisation’s business objectives, job descriptions, and organisation values. Be futuristic in your thoughts and think of the new skills that your company may need in the coming years. You may also conduct a survey amongst your team members or employees as to what do they think are the skills that are missing right now. Their insights may prove to be beneficial, and by involving them, you can help them feel that they are major contributors towards the organisation’s growth. You need to list and prioritise the skills that your employees, or teams, or the organisation needs.
You can opt for numerical rating scales as they are a more practical way to assess skills gaps especially when you wish to derive an aggregate of individual scores. You can go for a five-point or three-point rating system. Define your scales explicitly. For instance, a scale of 1 to 5 may range from poor to excellent, or inexperienced to expert.
Measuring the Presently Available Skills
In order to measure skill levels, you may take the help of:
- Surveys and
- Interviews employees.
- Gather feedback from performance reviews.
- Skills management software, such as TrackStar and Skills DB Pro which can make a skills gap analysis comparatively much less time-consuming.
You can also measure skills by creating a skills spreadsheet which would be specific to each individual position. Sometimes, a skills gap may be the outcome of limited experience, especially in the case of newly hired employees. In such a situation, you need to consider on-the-job training as a means to close the skills gap, instead of opting for formal training.
Deciding the Best Approach
You may decide to fill in the skills gaps either with training or by hiring. You would be the best judge to decide which approach or a combination will work best in your case.
The Training Approach
Most of the organisations train and develop their staff first to fill the open positions. They offer training to the employees in skills that they need to strengthen. The right kind of training can help an organisation close gaps between the current and the desired skill levels of its employees. It can also opt for professional training firms to arrange training sessions, workshops, and seminars for your employees. Along with training, you can also consider of offering them:
- Voluntary employee mentorship programs.
- Subscriptions, online courses and educational material.
- Opportunities to obtain certifications like Project Management Professionals (PMP) or Professional Certified Marketer (PCM).
- Opportunities to attend events and conferences.
The Hiring Approach
If you feel that the skills gaps which you have identified are too wide to be met with training, you may consider hiring from outside to bring in the required skills into your organisation. You can:
- You can opt to source passive candidates. To do so, use effective sourcing techniques such as recruiting on Twitter and sourcing using boolean logic to discover and reach out to promising candidates.
- You can modify your hiring process by screening for skills that your organisation needs. For instance, you can add skills assessments such as giving the candidates writing samples or numerical reasoning tests.
- You should use structured interviews to cut down on biases and ensure that your criteria for selecting a new hire are strictly related to the job.
Conducting a skills gap analysis can be time-consuming. However, the results that you can derive out of it are totally worth it. If you know which skills you need to grow as a business, it will help you hire, develop and retain the right individuals with the right know how.