Businesses across industries are facing a gap between the skills they need employees to have coming into their jobs and the experience, knowledge and skills potential new hires actually bring to the table.
For employers, this disconnect can mean more than just extra onboarding time; it can mean decreased revenue, customer service issues, delays in being able to release new products or services and a loss of business to competitors. Existing employees feel the pain too, which can lead to morale and retention problems if not addressed.
Bridging the Gap
There are some steps employers can take to bridge the skills gap:
1. Re-evaluate the candidate pool.
Many employers who report difficulty in finding qualified candidates for open positions find themselves stuck in the mindset of "needing" new hires with very specific skill sets and face frustration when they're unable to source potential hires with that knowledge or specific training. This can be particularly true with IT talent acquisitions.
By broadening the requirements to instead look for candidates with experience or skills that could overlap with the specific desired skill set, employers have a deeper pool from which to find new talent.
2. Approach the screening process differently.
The screening process for many employers has always started with reviewing candidates' resumes looking for keywords. If no matches are found, the applicant is disregarded.
To bridge the skills gap, however, employers should consider other ways of evaluating talent. Professional social media profiles, such as those on LinkedIn, can provide a wealth of information to employers, showcasing work samples and recommendations. Beyond such tools, employers can also leverage online tools to assess whether, and how well, candidates might fit with the corporate culture.
Being open to reviewing more than just resumes can lead to a richer screening process, revealing potential hires who might have otherwise been ignored.
3. Consider reaching potential candidates years before you'll need them.
Some employers have discovered that by investing resources in training potential new hires at the college or technical school level, they can better ensure candidates will have the training they need when they are ready to join the workforce.
This may include offering skills-based training in the classroom, offering hands-on internships for students, or some combination of the two. This approach may not work for smaller companies, but more established firms have found this to be a great way to cultivate the field of potential talent.
4. Be creative with skills development.
When an employer needs new hires to have a very specific set of skills but has trouble finding recruits to match that requirement, it may be time to get creative with teaching those skills.
More and more employers are leveraging "gamification", making training collaborative and fun, using internal social networks and tools to provide knowledge and training, and leveraging mobile and other on-the-go solutions to help get employees up-to-speed quickly.
5. Re-evaluate formal training programs.
Face-to-face, formal employee training programs used to be a foundation of employee onboarding and continuing education. However, with the continued growth of digital technology, more informal training methods have become commonplace in most organizations. That's not to say that formal training no longer has a place, but smart employers are deliberate about marrying formal and informal methods to create efficiencies.
Employers concerned about the skills gap can leverage technology for distance-learning, peer-to-peer collaboration and mentoring programs to supplement in-person skills training.
How ICS Can Help
When faced with too few candidates with a specific skill set, employers need to re-evaluate the talent acquisition and training processes. ICS can help.
As a leader and groundbreaker in recruiting, ICS does more than just connect employers with potential new hires. When helping fill open positions, we take the time to understand exactly what the job entails, and what skills are needed. Our candidate recruitment process is specifically built to allow us to get to know our candidates and build relationships with them. This, in turn, allows us to help employers find candidates who are strong matches, helping companies remain competitive.