7 Solutions for Bridging the Skills Gap
Skills gap. Just the words themselves can cause an argument. Does it exist? And if does, does it really have an effect on employment? We say, it not only exists, it very much affects recruitment as well as learning and development programs.
What is a skills gap?
A skills gap is when there is a shortage of skills but an abundance of positions that need those skills. Needed skills can be technological, “soft skills”, or whatever is needed in an employee but difficult to find. When employers look for viable candidates to fill their open positions but cannot find qualified people for those jobs, that is a skills gap.
What causes a skills gap?
Several factors come into play when there is a skills gap.
Location. Rural and non-urban areas often find themselves dealing with a skills gap due to the lack of varied population. With more people flocking to the larger cities, it’s not always easy to fill a position when there aren’t people willing to live in a remote area.
Interest. Skilled trades also suffer from a lack of interested and trained potential employees. Fewer millennials are interested in manufacturing and skilled trades than there are jobs open. The science and data industries especially have a harder time finding candidates with the training needed, let alone enough experience to make hiring them beneficial.
Brain drain. As the older, more experienced workers leave the workforce (taking their knowledge and experience with them), their positions are getting harder to fill.
Read about Tony Grijalva’s thoughts on the skills gap and its effect on Houston and other major cities.
What can your company do?
Here are several suggestions for attaining or retaining the skilled talent that your company needs to bridge the skills gap:
- Expand your applicant pool. Under-utilized groups such as veterans and second-life retirees are often overlooked. Work with schools and nonprofits that focus on finding careers for those looking for jobs outside the usual career paths. Recruit from passive candidates: “Utilization of social media, artificial intelligence (AI) tools, established networks and an array of proprietary databases are the main ingredients of a successful passive sourcing strategy,” says Jose Laurel, director of recruitment services, G&A Partners.
- Consider training over experience. If you can find interested candidates but not ones that have the experience you are looking for, think about training them into the position instead.
- Work with schools. Check out the trade schools and programs at your local area colleges. Pairing with the career advisors at these schools can help you start off with an interested applicant pool that also has the training you are searching for.
- Offer better benefits. Take a look at your benefits and see if they are attractive enough to bring in the types of employees you want. Benefits can be a make or break option when it comes to accepting job offers. As Laurel points out, companies should offer unique things that appeal to a diverse group of potential employees.
For more insight into recruiting in a tight labor market, check out Jose Laurel’s podcast with HR Insider.
- Focus on employee retention. You already have experienced and skilled employees working for you. So, what are you doing to keep them from walking out the door and heading to your competition? Keeping your employees is far more cost-effective than finding and training replacements.
- Create an employee referral program. You already have a great team, so use them. Good people can recommend other good people. Just make sure your referral program is not overly complicated, easily understood and includes clear metrics. Also, the rewards used for a successful referral should fit with the company’s culture and help drive engagement – “a combination of financial compensation and company recognition is the perfect blend for a winning employee referral program reward,” according to Laurel.
- More effective onboarding. Nearly 30% of employees leave in their first 90 days. This is often due to onboarding processes that don’t effectively engage the new hires. Make sure your expectations are in line with the employee’s, from the first interview through the start of the new job. Proper training and effective communication are also important for making sure the new hire feels comfortable in their new role.
You can bridge the skills gap by thinking creatively about how to find the best employees for your company. Whether you are looking outside your company or wanting to train from within, don’t stick to the old ways just because they worked before – think outside the gap.
As one of the nation’s top privately held professional employer organizations (PEO), G&A Partners is able to combine advanced cloud-based technology with experienced recruitment specialists to deliver both project-based and continuous recruitment services. Whether you need to quickly staff an entire department or conduct a careful search for just one key position, we can help you recruit the best possible talent for your business.