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Close the Skills Gap: Empower Your Team for an Unpredictable Future

In the near future, some jobs may become obsolete or automated. McKinsey suggests that 30 percent of hours worked globally could be automated by 2030.

In today’s workplace, technological advancements influence the necessary skills for success. No matter how talented your employees are, their skills can become outdated. 

The need to address skill gaps is more urgent than ever. Surveys show that 58 percent of companies say closing skill gaps in their workforce has become a higher priority since the pandemic began. 

Want to build a resilient workforce? Discover how to close these skill gaps.

What is a skills gap?

A skills gap is the void between the necessary abilities for a job and the skills an employee has. Recent surveys show that the urgency to address these gaps is clear across industries. Respondents say that skill building is the best way to do this—compared to hiring, contracting, or redeploying employees—and have doubled down on upskilling and reskilling efforts during the pandemic. 

Today, 78 percent of leaders say skill-building is crucial to long-term growth versus 59 percent before the pandemic. 

Skills generally have a half-life of about five years, according to research. The average duration for technical skills is about two and a half years. A successful transition into the digital age can be achieved by providing workers with new roles and qualifications.

What causes a skills gap?

Although the specific causes can vary by industry, some contributing factors to skills gaps in an organization include:

  • Lack of technical training or introduction of new technology
  • Rapid employee turnover–especially of experienced or upper-level workers
  • Increased demand–for skills, services, or products
  • Lack of soft skills

So, the question is: how can you close the skills gap, develop a competitive edge, and prevent employees’ skills from becoming outdated or obsolete? Discover practical strategies to do just that.

7 tips to close the skill gap

Nearly 70 percent of respondents reporting reskilling say the business impact from the programs has been greater than or equal to the investment in them. So, how can you reskill your workforce? 

Here are seven tips for running a successful skill-development program:

  1. Identify the specific skills gap at your organization and determine the skills needed for the future
  2. Develop soft skills
  3. Create tailored learning paths
  4. Mix up learning formats
  5. Offer mentorships
  6. Use a learning management platform
  7. Track progress and impact

1. Determine the demand and skills needed for the future

Too often, companies fail to recognize skill gaps in their workforce. Even though 30 percent recognize that their organizations’ roles are at risk over the next five years. 

The lack of visibility into existing skills is a common obstacle to understanding skill gaps. Approximately half of the organizations do not clearly understand their current skills. 

Most organizations say data analytics is their greatest skill gap, followed by IT management and executive management. 

Companies should perform a skills gap analysis to understand what skills the workforce currently has and what skills they will need in the future. Using this method, you can identify individual and organizational training needs. In addition, you can use your training budget to offer customized learning paths based on the weakest areas of your employees. 

2. Develop soft skills

About 93 percent of HR professionals feel soft skills are more important than hard skills. Soft skills are difficult to measure. They are interpersonal skills that help people collaborate and work together. 

Soft skills include:

  • Communication
  • Listening
  • Punctuality
  • Organization
  • Teamwork
  • Flexibility

McKinsey surveys indicate that social and emotional skills are the most important to develop. Empathy, leadership, and adaptability are examples. According to the study, companies should train for up to five skills at a time to improve the transformation and retention of skills. 

3. Create tailored learning paths and plans for specific roles

Reskilling works best when it includes personalized learning paths. Journeys should be structured, so employees retain and apply new skills. For example, through blending learning and virtual learning experiences. Assigning employees to cohorts with similar experiences lets them practice as they learn. 

Read more: How to Create Employee Career Paths

4. Mix up learning formats

Digital learning is the most popular learning format and has grown significantly throughout the pandemic. Respondents to a recent McKinsey survey report that digital learning has a higher overall success rate for employee skill transformations. 

Even though digital learning is the best skill-building format, studies show that an omnichannel approach supports success. Successful skill transformation was also significantly impacted by the following formats:

  • In-person/virtual workshops
  • Individual or team assignments
  • Peer learning teams
  • Expert coaching 
  • Sponsor or manager coaching
  • Experience-led change supports
  • Organization-led change supports
  • Performance support
  • Experiential learning
  • Fieldwork
  • Organization and/or individual diagnostics

5. Offer mentorships

Mentorship is key to helping employees build new skills. You can pair mentors and coaches with learning programs to improve skill retention and development. If you don’t have the internal resources, you can always bring in external experts to serve as coaches for employees. 

Keep the following tips in mind when building a mentor program:

  • Create a strong matching process. Mentor-mentee fit is critical for a successful mentor program. Use mentoring software like MentorcliQ to make people quickly and efficiently. 
  • Set regular one-to-one meetings. Make sure both mentor and mentee can devote time to the program. Regular one-to-one meetings help employees stay accountable and accelerate skill development. 
  • Build learning experiences. Lead by example. Create a course for mentors and provide them with formal education to develop their leadership skills. 

Mentors play a huge role in reskilling and upskilling talent. They pass on years of knowledge and experience that employees can learn from and apply to their everyday work. Develop better coaches and mentors, and your teams will perform better.   

6. Use a learning management platform

Some 88 percent of employees prefer using the latest tech for learning. A learning management platform can help you create successful learning programs that employees use. 

Building a custom training program with traditional employee training software can take weeks from a management perspective. WorkRamp lets you set up learning programs and start training employees within days. 

Unlike legacy systems and traditional LMSs, a learning management platform like WorkRamp:

  • Provides interactive courses
  • Supports multiple devices and screen sizes (including mobile)
  • Integrates with other systems like Salesforce and BambooHR
  • Makes it easy to create new courses
  • Allows you to customize these systems for your requirements
  • WorkRamp helps you onboard employees in less time by making it easy for you to customize the platform, create learning paths, and track learner progress

Overall, a learning management platform can help you provide the training your employees need now and what they’ll need down the road.

7. Track progress and development

Tracking the results of your learning and development efforts is crucial. Otherwise, how can you tell whether employees are improving? Your learning management platform will have several ways to track skill development, including:

  • Assessment reports
  • Simulating training performance reports
  • Certifications 
  • Course completion times
  • Success rates

Find a learning management platform that provides customized reporting and analytics. That way, you can monitor skill development programs and understand learning trends to improve your programs. 

Close the skills gap and set your employees up for success 

Nearly 70 percent of companies are dealing with talent shortages. As your organization grows, so should your employee’s skill sets and talents. Following the tips above, you can build engaging learning programs that help employees build and use their skills, impacting your productivity and bottom line.  

Want to learn how WorkRamp can help you create learning programs and close the skills gap at your organization? Contact us to schedule a free personalized demo. 

Complete the form for a custom demo.

Michael Keenan

WorkRamp Contributor

Michael is a SaaS marketer living in Guadalajara, Mexico. Through storytelling and data-driven content, his focus is providing valuable insight and advice on issues that prospects and customers care most about. He’s inspired by learning people’s stories, climbing mountains, and traveling with his partner and Xoloitzcuintles.

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