How Employers Can Fill the Skill Gap
Organizations across the region continue to face challenges in finding the right employees and talent. What's the solution to this dilemma? We weigh in on the skill-gap problem facing many employers and several practical things you can do to obtain the skills you need.
Is your offer competitive?
You've likely changed and tweaked your sourcing strategies several times to find the right talent, but have you changed your offer - the pay, benefits, and perks of working at your organization? People with the most in-demand skills know what they are worth and are drawn to the most lucrative opportunities, with higher salaries, better benefits, more advancement opportunities, and unique perks.
You must have the right package to draw the talent you need. If you haven't taken a look at what starting salaries and benefits packages are in the market currently, and how employers are communicating this information to applicants to draw them into their organizations, it may be best to start there. Your pay rates may not be competitive anymore.
Do you need to redefine what talent means?
The perception of a skill gap sometimes is created by our unrealistic expectations of everything talent should be. Talent is more or less a set of characteristics and abilities which predict success on the job. Talent is not necessarily an exact match of all the skills and experiences you need, however hiring processes often seek this precise match.
Consider how employers define top talent - usually in terms of attitude, integrity, work ethic, passion for the work, and motivation to succeed. These are talents worth seeking, but more often than not, interviews, assessments, and other hiring methods focus heavily on concrete skills and experiences - the easiest of which to teach prospective employees. That being said, keep these things in mind when hiring talent:
- Be careful what you are screening out in the hiring process. Don't needlessly turn down candidates because they don't meet an unnecessary skill requirement.
- Focus interview questions on relevant behaviors and experiences needed to be successful on the job, not necessarily exact experiences that the job will entail. Target abilities and transferable skills.
- Consider hiring inexperienced employees to build and grow talent from the ground, up. They are a blank slate with fresh perspectives. This strategy has been highly successful for many organizations, particularly entrepreneurial firms.
Who's already on your bench?
Companies often don't realize their bench strength in that many of the technical skills and capabilities they need either already exist in their organizations or have the potential to be learned. Frequently, they don't take the time to understand what each of their employees has to offer, and consequently overlook talent that already exists in their organizations as well as opportunities to engage and develop their current staff who desire growth.
Don't assume that employees don't want to learn a new skill, take on a challenge, go to a training, or that you know an employee's full potential. Regularly inventory employees' skills, document their education and training, and ask employees what skills they would like to attain. Skills can be learned, and our guess is that you have plenty of employees eager for a new challenge.
Can they be grown?
More employers are realizing that in order to gain the skills and talent they need to grow and advance their businesses, they will have to start growing those skills internally with training, coaching, and development. Hiring talent externally may seem easier as well as less costly and time-consuming, but the cost of operating with vacancies, wasting time unsuccessfully sourcing talent, and paying a premium for external hires can outweigh the cost of investing in your current employees.
An added bonus of growing talent internally is that doing so engages and retains current employees, who often will leave for greener pastures and new opportunities that aren't afforded to them. In our experience, too much external hiring can cause a great deal of disengagement, eliminating possible opportunities for your current employees. Here are some tips to grow your own:
- Conduct a training needs assessment to understand what skill gaps exist.
- Determine what skill gaps can be filled internally and which employees have the ability to learn.
- Identify opportunities for cross-training - can employees be trained by current employees?
- Where skills can't be cross-trained and outside expertise is needed, seek external training.
- Prioritize training and development opportunities based on the most critical skill gaps to manage costs and time away from work.
ERC's Director of Technical Training weighs in on the importance of development to retaining employees and closing the skill gap. He says, "To help maintain their competitive edge, organizations will need to continually invest in workforce development. Contrary to a popular myth, companies who invest in developing the technical skills of their people are more likely to retain those people--- not lose them to a competitor for an extra 25 cents an hour. Studies have shown that when employees develop new technical skills, they are more loyal, productive and motivated to do an even better job…for the company who invested in them."
The skill gap is here to stay and employers will be tasked with coming up with creative solutions to fill the gap in the months and years to come. Employers that are able to fill their skill gaps more creatively and thoughtfully, while retaining their best people in the process, will end up gaining a competitive advantage.
Training at ERC
Hundreds of companies turn to ERC every year to develop and enhance the skills of their managers, supervisors, leaders and professionals at all levels. We offer a variety of technical skills, workplace/soft skills, supervisory/management/leadership skills, computer skills, and legal/compliance training on-site as well as at our Workplace Center.
2012 ERC Local Salary Data Published
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