Are Organizations Prepared to Address the Skills Gap Challenge?

Talk with any company leader and most, if not all, will tell you that it is a challenge to recruit and hire much-needed skilled employees.

A skills gap is defined as the gap between the skills people currently have, and the skills needed to do the work now and in the future.

What Skills Gaps Exist?

With the number of jobless claims increasing, and the number of people looking for jobs picking up, you might hope that finding your next hire will be easier.

However, according to a recent survey conducted by Addecco, a staffing solutions company, things aren’t going to get any easier finding the right hire because of a severe skills gap in the American workforce.

Addecco surveyed more than 500 Sr. Executives. Broadly, the top skills gaps in US companies are:

  • 44% think employees lack the 4C’s of soft skills: Communication, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Collaboration

  • 22% think employees lack technical skills

  • 14% think employees lack leadership skills

  • 12% think employees lack software skills


What About Technical Skills Gaps?

According to a survey of 1,028 participants, and a report by SHRM (2019). The Global Skills Shortage: Bridging the Talent Gap with Education, Training, and Sourcing (Rep.). Alexandria, Virginia: Society for Human Resource Management, the top skills missing on the technical side are trade skills, such as machining, welding, carpentry, plumbing, followed by other STEM-type subjects (data, science, engineering, medical).

Most alarming, 50% of the SHRM survey respondents felt that skills shortages have worsened or greatly worsened in their organization over the past two years.

The reality is most organizations are woefully unprepared to fill the skills gap.

From other research I did, according to the Brandon Hall Group Skills Gap Survey, 55% of US organizations do not have a company-wide plan in place for filling their skills gaps among skilled workers.

How are Organizations Bridging the Skills Gap?

Many organizations are taking steps to address the skills gap. But are they taking the most effective steps? According to the SHRM survey noted above:

The MOST COMMON remedies are:

  • Expanding recruiting advertising efforts

  • Collaborating with educational institutions to build talent pipelines

  • Outsourcing recruiting efforts

  • Training internal employees to take on hard-to-fill positions

  • Improving retention efforts for existing employees

The MOST EFFECTIVE remedies are:

  • Providing on-site training to employees (e.g., face-to-face seminars, online training programs are taking off)

  • Starting or expanding training programs to improve the skills of new hires

  • Hiring an external workforce through temps, independent contractors

  • Increasing compensation

  • Improving retention efforts for current employees

An effective remedy not mentioned in the survey is establishing mentorship opportunities across the organization and promoting the democratization of knowledge within the organization. As we start to see baby boomers retire, there are opportunities for them to share their knowledge with new hires coming into the industry.

Also, tying into ‘increasing compensation’ noted above, a company can provide incentives to employees for continuous learning through promotions, retraining for new roles and opportunities, and wage increases.

These are some steps to take to address the skills gap challenge in manufacturing organizations. Effectively doing so is a necessity for organizations to thrive and be profitable in a challenging, complex business environment.

If you want to participate in a beta test of a management leadership skills training program (blended online, in-person workshop) contact me.


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