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Bridging the Skills Gap Through Leadership Development

Jason Diamond Arnold

July 26, 2018

The skills gap has been present in the working world since the most recent recession wreaked havoc on the economy in 2008. Although it is shrinking significantly, companies are still finding it difficult to source candidates with the right skills for open positions.

Leadership development is key to ensuring your organization isn’t just filling open positions, but filling open positions with people who can also help close the skills gap.

What is the Skills Gap?

When it comes to hiring, times have changed significantly. During the Recession of 2008, candidates were lucky to even find a job, let alone secure a position. This meant hiring managers could be as selective as they wanted, knowing they had a plethora of highly qualified candidates to choose from.

In 2014, the job market experienced a shift to a more candidate-driven market and is continuing toward that trend nearly half a decade later. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the unemployment rate will continue to drop across the country, with an overall projection of 20.5 million new jobs created by 2020.

What does the much-lamented skills gap actually cost U.S. organizations? A recent CareerBuilder survey set out to calculate that cost. Their conclusion: Nearly $1 Million annually is the cost for each employer having unfilled positions in the U.S.

During the Recession, employers and leaders of organizations got into the habit of making the hiring process as lengthy and difficult as possible, because they knew the people interviewing had no other choice. With more than enough jobs available today, leaders have to develop the skills to ensure their candidates are having a good hiring experience.

Do you know what’s costing #organizations throughout the country nearly $1 Million a year? Discover the culprit. @InspireSoftwareTweet This!

How Does the Skills Gap Affect You?

Employers’ struggling to find new hires with the right skills is a drag on GDP in two ways. First, the organization misses out on potential production opportunities, so revenues and profits suffer. Additionally, people who are unemployed or stuck in jobs requiring minimal skills don’t spend as much as they otherwise would if they had more disposable income. In an economy that depends on consumption to drive growth, that’s a problem.

Perhaps you are confronted with areas where key roles are going unfilled. With the shift towards a candidate-driven market, we have noticed corporate recruiters simply don’t have the time or resources to secure qualified candidates through their own measures. What can you do to diminish the skills gap within your organization?

Try these tips:

  • Identify the gap
    • Skill gaps don’t always show themselves in the same way. Identify whether your current skills gap is a result of not having a new skill or having a lack of employee skills in your organization. A quick and easy way to create an inventory of skills and answer this question is to send out a survey to employees and ask what they feel their skills are. Once the inventory is created, you’re then able to determine the gap and come up with an action plan. This will also help the leadership team figure out who has the potential to take on new positions and which employees need more training.
  • Address the gap
    • If you find your gap is because employees lack the skills to perform a task, whether newly implemented or old habit, come up with some sort of training or exercise to remedy the gap. Sometimes a skills gap can be addressed by creating a new workflow so the missing skills are no longer needed. Brainstorm with your leadership team to create new workflows and processes to fit your organization. By doing so, you can create a culture of internal mobility to help employees grow professionally while filling key roles.
  • Find a staffing solution
    • If your skills gap is sudden and appears to happen after a crucial employee leaves, consider looking to hire a new set of employees to amp up your organization’s skill set. The leadership team can get together and develop a plan and set of skills (based on the survey results) to help form a hiring plan to find the best talent.
The unemployment rate is predicted to continue to drop across the country with an overall projection of 20.5 million new #jobs being created by 2020. Learn why. @InspireSoftwareTweet This!

How Leadership Development Helps

On a basic level, leadership development can lower your risk of losing employees or having to source for skilled professionals with the right experience. It allows employers to assess current employees and find potential internal candidates for leadership roles.

But, leadership development is more than training an employee to lead a team. In fact, prioritizing and providing the training your workers need to be better professionals can help them learn how to lead teams or provide them the tools necessary in leading their own skill development. In either case, both are very important for bridging the skills gap. If your organization becomes one that values leadership development, you will empower employees to take charge of their own careers and learning.

Organizations are taking a careful look at the traits of their current, proven top performers, then using that information to develop profiles of employees they believe are most likely to succeed. If you’re like many companies, the lack of perfectly qualified candidates is driving you to take this approach to solving the skills gap within your organization.

While there are many external forces that make the skills gap hard to control, this guide is meant to be a stepping stone to help you counteract these obstacles. Still not sure how to begin developing internal talent? Watch our demo video today to learn how Inspire Software can simplify your leadership development processes.