Knowledge gaps happen more often now than ever before. In the past, employees were hired because they had the education and work experience to do the job. Things have changed today. Not all new hires are going to possess the skills needed from day one. In fact, the average shelf-life of a college degree in some industries is significantly shorter than it was decades ago.
This is something employers need to be aware of if they want to cultivate a strong workforce with minimal turnover.
Why Are There Skill Gaps?
One of the biggest factors that have helped create skill gaps is the same thing that can be used to close them. Technology is a valuable tool if you know how to use it. Development occurs at a fast pace, which means the way employees work is also evolving.
Usually, change is good. A better software product can mean higher productivity, better accuracy, and an overall easier time for workers. However, a new interface and functionality mean training is necessary. Without it, you could end up leaving employees behind.
Skills Have to Evolve with Technology
Formal education is still important. Companies like Apple, Google, and IBM require college degrees to be considered for employment. However, technical skills are also a big selling point in the eyes of recruiters. An employee who knows the basics of technology will be better equipped to adapt as new apps and updates are deployed.
The Society for Human Resources Management, or SHRM, released a Global Skill Shortage report in 2019. It revealed that 83% of respondents had difficulty recruiting qualified candidates in the past 12 months. A third felt that there was a decrease in applicant quality, while 45% found a decrease in quality for specific job roles.
Top reasons were also listed, with hiring competition coming in as the top cause at 43%. Candidates not having the right technical skills came in third with 35%.
Manufacturing has felt this problem more than other industries with an expected deficit of over two million workers by next year. That number is projected to reach 7.9 million by 2030. The loss of revenue could climb to $607.1 billion if nothing changes over the next decade.
One of the issues Manufacturing recruiters face is an aging workforce. Many current employees are retiring or will retire soon. About 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age daily, which means companies need to be prepared to attract younger generations. A part of that process is upskilling new hires through training programs and apprenticeships.
Everyone Needs Soft Skills
Soft skills are also essential. That really hasn’t changed but becomes more noticeable as automation expands. While machines and computers may handle repetitive processes, there will always be a need for human intelligence, emotion, and complex thinking.
Even a simple task can require the use of multiple soft skills. For example, salespeople need to be able to see things from the consumer’s perspective to address questions or concerns and close the sale.
Soft skills can include communication, understanding social cues, personality traits, and other personal attributes. Emotion and insight are often required. That’s what makes these skills difficult to teach using traditional methods.
The Benefits of a Skilled Workforce
A skilled workforce can mean the difference between success and falling behind your closest competitors. It gives businesses a big step up and helps them build a solid foundation for a profitable future. Why should you be concerned about closing your team’s skill gaps?
- Improves the Customer Experience
Skilled employees are better equipped to handle customer questions and complaints. This is something that consumers will notice. Their transactions will go smoother, and issues will be addressed quickly and adequately when your workers know what to do. It builds confidence and trust in your brand.
Your workers do more than just handle customer service. They are also responsible for manufacturing your product or providing your service. They arrange marketing campaigns, track data, and keep your operation running smoothly. You need them to be at the top of their game – and that starts with a robust set of skills to get the job done. Even workers who don’t interact with the public face-to-face can have an impact on the customer experience.
- Higher Job Satisfaction Rates
Finding and onboarding new hires is an expensive, time-consuming process. You will see a loss of productivity between the time you lose one employee and hire another. Job satisfaction is important to maximize retention, so you don’t have to go through this resource-draining process more times than is necessary.
According to a Gallup study that included businesses in 142 countries, a mere 13% of employees around the world feel engaged at work. That works out to an average of just one in eight workers feeling engaged. Around 24% were actively disengaged, which means they are unhappy and more likely to be unproductive.
Job satisfaction also improves morale, which has a direct effect on productivity. Happy employees are more likely to produce more and go the extra mile for their employer. It can help avoid burnout and nurtures a positive environment for everyone.
- Lower Risk of Errors
Employees who understand all aspects of their job are going to be less likely to cause errors. Errors can cost money.
In some cases, a small error could result in thousands of dollars lost. While humans aren’t perfect and will make mistakes, employers can minimize risk by ensuring that workers have the skill sets needed to complete their assigned tasks. A knowledgeable employee is far less likely to make mistakes compared to one that is missing certain necessary skills.
Leveraging Your LMS to Close Skill Gaps
eLearning is a powerful training tool that can help you close skill gaps and prevent future gaps from opening. Courses can be created to train or cross-train. Modern technology has given us virtual reality and simulations, which are valuable when honing soft skills in real-life situations. Your LMS can also:
- Use reports to identify skill gaps before they become a problem
- Monitor course progress to provide additional resources to employees who struggle
- Track certification and monitor deadlines for recertification
- Engage employees by presenting opportunities to advance through education
- Make your workforce an attractive choice for the best job candidates
- Lower training costs while improving the learner experience
The way we hire has changed over the past several decades. Businesses must prepare to hire younger generations and to be flexible as technology advances. It’s no longer enough to stop learning once an employee has their degree. Companies need to encourage ongoing education and provide ways for workers to develop their skill sets.