Only 40% of employees feel their companies are upskilling enough, leaving the workforce with a skills gap. There’s obvious room for growth that forward-thinking organizations will take advantage of by developing innovative strategies that will bridge the skills gap and create a workforce that’s prepared for the future. Learn what the skills gap is, what can be done about it, and where you can start.
What is a Skills Gap?
A skills gap happens when the skills and knowledge job seekers have don’t quite match up to the skills and knowledge necessary to effectively fill a position. There’s a gap between what the job seekers have and what the employers require, and we’re going to take a look at what can be done to bridge this gap.
But first, why should you care? As an employer, skills gaps can lead to you having a difficult time finding the right candidates for open positions, it can hinder productivity and innovation, and it can create a cycle of job dissatisfaction for employees who aren’t gaining skills relevant to a thriving career.
The McKinsey Report states that lack of career development and advancement is the number one reason employees leave a job. Additionally, 87% of employers recognize they currently have a skills gap or will within the next few years. One way to combat the skills gap is by upskilling the current workforce, but only 40% of employees report their company is taking these measures, leaving plenty of room for improvement.
What Can Be Done About Skills Gaps?
There simply aren’t enough well-trained or skilled workers to meet the capabilities an organization needs to be competitive. To address this issue, companies are rethinking their approach to both recruiting and retaining employees and would be wise to increase their upskilling and reskilling programs and retention strategies to retain talent.
Some ways organizations are overcoming skills gaps is by:
- Focusing on skills rather than solely seeking out credentials.
- Investing in skills development for employees.
- Creating a work culture around growth, development, and opportunity.
- Offering trainings through seminars, online courses, coaching, and micro-learnings.
- Embracing experiential learning with apprenticeships and on-the-job training.
- Creating a skills framework to identify high demand needs.
What is a Skills Framework?
An effective way to begin addressing a skills gap is to develop a skills framework. This is done by defining, categorizing, and describing the specific skills, competencies, and knowledge that individuals need to gain to fulfill the requirements of a job role, industry standards, or a learning objective. With a skills framework in hand, you have a starting point for designing more effective training and educational programs.
When we develop a skills framework, it typically includes these 8 components (see this in action in our work with American Marketing Association):
1. Skill Categories: Areas of expertise within a field.
2. Competencies: Technical skills, soft skills, and domain-specific knowledge.
3. Skill Levels: Proficiency levels, such as beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
4. Learning Objectives: Define learner’s gained knowledge after completion.
5. Learning Pathways: Suggest which skills to learn first and how to progress.
6. Assessment and Evaluation: Measure progress for desired outcomes.
7. Alignment with Industry Standards: Ensures skills are relevant and cutting edge.
8. Flexibility and Adaptability: Can adapt to new trends and technologies.
A skills framework provides a structured approach to curriculum development, ensuring that learning experiences are targeted, relevant, and effective in addressing specific skills gaps and training needs. Whether used in corporate training, academic programs, or professional development initiatives, having a skills framework plays a vital role in designing learning experiences that lead to relevant and applicable skills.
How Can a Skills Framework Help with Skills Gaps?
Building a skills framework can address the skills gap by providing a structured and systematic approach to identifying, defining, and bridging the gaps in skills and competencies within a given industry, profession, or educational context. Let’s look at 8 ways this is done:
1. Identifies Skills Needs
A skills framework will help identify the specific skills and competencies required within a particular field or job role. By defining the skills that are in demand, the framework highlights the areas where there is a potential skills gap between what employers require and what the workforce possesses.
2. Maps Existing Skills
Skills frameworks enable organizations to assess the skills and competencies of their workforce against industry standards. This assessment reveals the areas where employees may be lacking certain skills, contributing to the skills gap.
3. Defines Learning Objectives
A key component of skills frameworks is the establishment of clear learning objectives for each skill or competency. These objectives guide the development of training programs and curricula aimed at addressing the skills gap. Learning objectives specify the desired outcomes and help learners know what they need to achieve.
4. Design Training Programs
With a skills framework in place, instructional designers can create targeted training programs that directly address the skills identified as lacking. By aligning curriculum content with the framework's skill categories and levels, training becomes more focused on closing the skills gap.
5. Personalize Learning Paths
Skills frameworks can be used to create personalized learning paths for individuals based on their current skill levels and career goals. This approach ensures that learners receive the necessary training to bridge their specific skills gaps.
6. Measure and Assess
Skills frameworks include guidelines for assessing and measuring skill proficiency. By implementing assessments aligned with the framework, organizations can track learners' progress in acquiring the required skills and determine whether the skills gap is closing.
7. Industry Alignment
Skills frameworks often align with industry standards, certifications, and best practices. This ensures that the skills being developed through training are relevant and valuable in the current job market, helping to close the gap between what employers need and what employees offer.
8. Continuous Improvement
As industries evolve, skills frameworks can be updated to reflect changing skills demands. This adaptability ensures that training programs remain current and effective in addressing evolving skills gaps.
Bridging the Skills Gap
According to the CEO of LinkedIn, Ryan Roslansky, “By taking a skills-based approach to the hiring process, diplomas and titles can sit alongside assessments, certifications, endorsements, and other alternate methods for determining the capability and fit of a candidate. What’s more, by focusing on skills, employers can increase the size of their talent pools, allowing them to pinpoint quality applicants for hard-to-fill roles. Once you’ve hired them, keep your employees engaged and your company ready to adapt to changing demands by creating a culture of learning. It’s how we’ll start hiring and developing talent for the future, not the past.”
At Desklight, we see that the future of learning lies in opportunities to gather personalized knowledge that’s directly applicable and relevant to the learner. Organizations who recognize their opportunity to support current and future employees with meaningful learning experiences will find themselves prepared to attract and maintain top talent into the future.