Revealing the Hidden Path to Excellence: How Skills Gap Analysis Drives Growth and Innovation.
A skills gap analysis identifies the disparity between the skills employers require and the skills employees possess. To perform a skills gap analysis, an organisation must determine the skills necessary to achieve its business objectives. Identifying skills gaps and using information to develop strategies and processes will only aid your organisation’s ability to meet the demand of the new working environment. The impetus is held within organisations to have a clear progression plan for their employees, training, upskilling and reskilling them in order to properly cover these gaps and also upheld a standard of company culture. The advancement of technology in our current working climate has also played an extensive role in the creation of skills gaps and thus created holes within organisations processes and growth.
Planning Properly (Skills Gap Analysis)
Skills gap analysis can be conducted at two levels: the individual level and the organisation/team level:
Individual Level: When conducting a skills gap analysis at an individual level, it’s important to identify the specific skills needed for a particular job or role and compare them with the current skills possessed by employees. Typically, a team leader is responsible for this process. It becomes necessary to perform a skills gap analysis when an employee’s role changes, there is a poor performance review, or when new skills are required for a promotion or a new project. Training, succession planning, and mentoring initiatives can be utilised to bridge these skill gaps.
Organisation/Team Level: When conducting a skills gap analysis at an organisational or team level, the focus is on assessing whether employees possess the necessary skills for an upcoming project or if external resources are required. This analysis helps in determining the training programs needed to enhance employees’ skills for specific projects or roles. Typically, the responsibility for this process lies with the HR department or external consultants. Conducting a skills gap analysis is most beneficial when facing challenges in meeting business goals, undergoing strategic shifts that demand new or upgraded skills, or adopting new technologies. Addressing these skill gaps can be done through external hiring, organising training programs, and implementing mentoring initiatives.
To initiate an organisation-wide skills gap analysis, the HR department should arrange a meeting with managers to introduce and clarify the process. Additionally, hiring an external consultant to conduct the analysis can bring objectivity and prevent the consumption of valuable employee productivity.
Identifying Key Skills
While certain organisations struggle to fill positions due to skills gap analysis, others argue that it merely entails unrealistic expectations. To identify crucial skills, ask yourself the following two questions:
- What skills do we genuinely value as an organisation?
- What skills do employees presently and potentially require to perform their jobs effectively?
When conducting a skills gap analysis, it is important to consider your organisation’s business objectives, job descriptions, and core values. Take a forward-thinking approach and anticipate the skills your company may require in the future. Additionally, conducting surveys among team members or employees to gather their perspectives on the currently lacking skills can be valuable. Involving them in this process fosters a sense of contribution towards the organisation’s growth. Make a comprehensive list of the skills needed by employees, teams, or the organisation as a whole, and prioritise them accordingly.
Numerical rating scales offer a practical approach to assess skills gaps, particularly when seeking an aggregate of individual scores. Consider utilizing a five-point or three-point rating system and define your scales clearly. For example, a scale of 1 to 5 could represent a range from poor to excellent or inexperienced to expert. This ensures transparency and consistency in evaluating skill levels.
Measuring the Presently Available Skills
To assess skill levels, you can utilise the following methods:
- Surveys and employee interviews: Collect valuable insights by conducting surveys or interviewing employees to gauge their skill levels and identify any gaps.
- Performance reviews: Gather feedback from performance reviews to evaluate individual skill levels and gain insights into areas that require improvement.
- Skills management software: Streamline the skills gap analysis process and save time by leveraging skills management software.
Another way to measure skills is by creating a position-specific skills spreadsheet for each individual role. Occasionally, a skills gap may arise due to limited experience, particularly with newly hired employees. In such cases, it is advisable to prioritise on-the-job training as a means to bridge the skills gap, rather than relying solely on formal training programs. This approach allows employees to acquire the necessary skills through practical experience and hands-on learning.
Deciding the Best Approach for Your Organisation
When addressing skills gaps, you have the option to either provide training or pursue hiring strategies. It is up to you to determine the most suitable approach or a combination thereof based on your specific circumstances. As the decision-maker, you can assess the needs of your organisation and make an informed judgment on which approach will be most effective in closing the skills gaps.
The Training Approach:
Many organisations prioritise training and development as their initial approach to filling open positions. They provide targeted training to employees to enhance their skills and bridge any existing gaps. By offering the right type of training, organisations can effectively address disparities between the current skill levels of their employees and the desired skill levels. Professional training firms can be engaged to arrange training sessions, workshops, and seminars for employees. In addition to training, organisations may also consider offering other benefits or incentives such as:
- Voluntary employee mentorship programs: Implement mentorship programs where experienced employees can voluntarily mentor and guide their colleagues, fostering knowledge sharing and skill development.
- Subscriptions, online courses, and educational material: Provide employees with access to subscriptions, online courses, and educational resources to facilitate self-paced learning and professional growth.
- Opportunities to obtain certifications: Encourage employees to pursue certifications relevant to their roles, such as Project Management Professionals (PMP) or Professional Certified Marketer (PCM), to enhance their expertise and credibility.
- Opportunities to attend events and conferences: Support employees in attending industry events, conferences, and seminars to broaden their knowledge, network with peers, and stay updated with the latest trends and practices.
The Hiring Approach:
If the identified skills gaps seem too extensive to be addressed through training alone, you may consider hiring external candidates to bring the required skills into your organisation. Here are some approaches you can take:
- Source passive candidates: Utilize effective sourcing techniques, such as recruiting on Twitter and using boolean logic in candidate searches, to identify and reach out to potential candidates who may not be actively job-seeking.
- Modify your hiring process: Adapt your hiring process to screen for the specific skills your organisation needs. For example, incorporate skills assessments like writing samples or numerical reasoning tests to evaluate candidates’ abilities.
- Use structured interviews: Implement structured interview techniques to reduce biases and ensure that selection criteria focus solely on job-related qualifications.
Conducting a skills gap analysis may require time and effort, but the benefits it provides are invaluable. Knowing which skills are crucial for your business enables you to effectively hire, develop, and retain individuals with the right expertise, contributing to the growth and success of your organisation.