How to manage skill gaps in the workforce

Skills gaps can greatly impact the productivity of a business. If eligible staff cannot be found then chances are it is an industry wide problem. 

This can greatly increase the competition surrounding the talent that is available for recruitment, meaning businesses need to go the extra mile to prove themselves to candidates. 

How can you ensure that your business is prepared for skills shortages?

Be aware of industry trends

The best way to prepare for potential skills shortages is to keep up to date with what is happening in your industry. Problems will only get worse if they are allowed to sneak up on you. 

Currently, there are substantial skills shortages in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). These fields involve skill sets that are not necessarily industry specific, meaning that any skill gap is exacerbated and spread across multiple sectors. 

"Established financial services, engineering and chemical companies are coveting the same talent pool. And on top of that are alluring technology giants, like Google, who have a slight advantage over other players vying for top STEM talent, mostly benefiting from their overall sector attractiveness," explained Global Director for Like Sciences at Randstad, Tania de Decker.

Some industries, like IT, may be moving away from standard hiring in favour of contracting instead. According to the Information Technology Contract and Recruitment Association, only 9 per cent of IT hiring in Q1 this year has been for permanent positions. 

Recognise and promote talent internally

If it is becoming tough to find talent that meets your needs, it might be worth looking inwards, and seeing if members of your current team are ready to step up. Offering employees the chance to develop can encourage engagement, consequently lowering the likelihood of turnover

This is especially key with leadership and management positions that can be hard to replace with external candidates. Often people in these positions need to be familiar with the business to be successful, highlighting the importance of internal promotion. 

"One measure we suggest HR leaders take is fast-tracking your critical talent. Identify key roles in the business, differentiate the high-potentials, and offer them an accelerated career path which takes them from onboarding to leader successors in almost no time," advises Ms de Decker. 

Keep it from affecting your current staff

It's one thing to have skills gaps impact your recruitment efforts, but if they have an affect of your stuff they provide an even greater threat. 

According to CareerBuilder, 41 per cent of people surveyed believe that skills gaps cause low morale in employees, due to the fact that they often have to take on extra responsibilities to make up for staff shortages. In extreme cases, this can even cause work to be completed late or not at all. 

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