Over the past several years, many organizations have struggled to fill open positions, and in the United States, companies have often pointed to the low unemployment environment as the root cause. However, there is another contributing factor that has flown under the radar until recently: the skills gap.
According to LinkedIn, U.S. companies are finding it more difficult to find employees who have the aptitudes that they need, and The World Economic Forum has reported that by 2022 – just three years from now – the skills required to perform most jobs will have changed significantly, paving the way for even greater gaps within our organizations.
LinkedIn’s Workforce Report from December 2018 shared that U.S. organizations are seeing the largest disparity between the need for, and expertise in, these four areas:
- Oral communication
- Business management
- Development tools
To consider a global perspective, the World Economic Forum identified that these talents would be the most sought after by 2022:
- Analytical thinking and innovation
- Active learning
- Creativity, originality and initiative
- Technology design and programming
- Critical thinking and analysis
- Complex problem-solving
- Leadership and social influence
- Emotional intelligence
- Reasoning, problem solving and ideation
- Systems analysis and evaluation
Talent deficits present a real challenge to leaders and organizations who are seeking to position themselves for success today and in the future. To close the employee skills gap, I invite you to consider these four ideas.
1. Invest in large-scale training and development initiatives.
Placing a focus on learning and development can help you shrink talent gaps and support your company’s growth. Identify which skills you most commonly seek in your organization as well as those you expect to need more of in the near future and begin to create programming around these aptitudes.
What interests me about the LinkedIn and World Economic Forum reports is that most of the needed talents are soft skills, not hard skills. I’d encourage you to reflect on these lists and identify larger scale initiatives that could help build these capabilities within your company.
As you consider soft skills, I invite you to reflect on how Emergenetics® could support your training programs. When employees discover their own Thinking and Behavioral preferences as well as those of their team members, they can begin to apply their learnings to improve communication, problem solving, productivity, leadership and more.
Not only will developing a strong training and development program help you build key skills organization-wide, it will also help grow your business and retain talented employees. The Huffington Post reports that companies that invest in employee training enjoy a 24 percent higher profit margin than those that don’t, and ClearCompany shares that 68 percent of workers say training and development is THE most important company policy. By making talent development a priority, you can set your organization up for greater success.
2. Focus on individual career pathing and development.
While your corporate training and development programs may prioritize broader skill building initiatives, be mindful of individual training needs as well. Partner with employees to determine which talents will be needed to progress to the next level in their careers or to prepare for changes in their job functions. Learning and Development teams can help managers put together specific career pathing plans and identify workshops, trainings or online programs that will help team members build needed aptitudes.
As you consider career pathing, budget will likely become a factor. The Learning Wave has reported that 72 percent of employees are willing to consider financially contributing to their own training. While I encourage you to try to get creative with budgets to meet the skill needs of your organization, you may also consider splitting costs with employees or structuring reimbursement programs to encourage individuals to keep learning.
3. Make development an essential part of your culture.
As technologies continue to advance and jobs change rapidly, consider how you can foster an environment where learning and development is embraced.
Cultural initiatives tend to be most successful when you begin with leadership. If managers show personal commitment to learning, you can begin to impact the overall culture. To spur change, ask leaders to talk about the skills they are actively working to build. For those with an Emergenetics Profile, one simple way to start is to have managers share how they are flexing to support the needs of those who have preferences different from their own..
In addition to having a culture that openly discusses development, consider making skill-building part of your performance reviews. By ensuring that continuing education is part of this process, you can encourage team members to keep learning and attract employees who are committed to growing their skills.
4. Assess your progress.
Last and not least, evaluate your improvements regularly. Set baseline metrics for the talents you are seeking to build across your organization and in individual development plans. I’d recommend that you assess whether skills gaps have closed on at least an annual basis.
A practice of regular evaluations will help you identify which programs are working and which ones should be revised as well as additional aptitudes your employees may need.
Closing the skills gap will not happen overnight; however, by putting a focus on learning and development, you can set your company and employees up for success in our rapidly changing economies.
Discover how Emergenetics can help you close the gap in your company’s soft skills. Fill out the form below to speak with one of our team members today.