When an employer is looking for certain skills which employees can’t deliver, this is referred to as a skills gap; and it is becoming an increasingly noticeable concern in today’s work climate. However, there is also a certain amount of controversy surrounding the reason behind this apparent gap in skills and prospects. According to Adam Wiedmer, Sourcing Director at the professional services corporation, Seven Step RPO, there is a disparity between what is being expected of employees in the job market and what is actually being taught educationally in the U.S. For example, among the fields of technology and engineering, which are currently in highest demand, just 5 percent of the top majors granted currently fall within these areas; as opposed to history, performing arts, and psychology which compose 22 percent of all U.S. degrees. Wiedmer points out that our nation is consequently searching internationally to supply companies with highly trained IT workers.
The issue may also exist within the educational curriculum itself. Ellen Van Velsor, senior fellow in Research and Innovation at Center for Creative Leadership has stated that a similar disconnect exists within leadership competencies, where these techniques and other applicable soft skills are practically non-existent in many programs outside of MBA and business administrative agendas. An important factor within this soft skill set is communications. This is something companies should not be overlooking during the hiring process. Velso added that while many surveyed managers have been impressed with the technological savvy of the up-and-coming generation, most of these younger workers were viewed as too dependent on technical forms of communication, as well as being unwilling or too unskilled to engage in face-to-face communication.
Given the predicament, what can employers do to close the skills gap both internally and externally?
Invest in training
When employers invest enough resources into properly training their employees, they are not only helping to close the skills gap within their own company, but they are creating future candidates who may be of value to other employers down the road. If all employers adopted this mindset, it could potentially affect the overall talent climate, expanding the pool of quality candidates across the board.
Seek likely candidates
Correctly matching skill sets to open positions is an important craft that employers must perfect. While it’s tempting to focus on highly exclusive skills that are, in theory, more difficult to teach, concentrating on a very particular set of “micro skills” may cause employers to lose light of the larger picture, which is to recruit a candidate who is capable of performing the most prominent and important parts of the job without a great deal of difficulty.
Advertise your jobs
Employers should remember to compile thorough and accurate descriptions in their online job postings and utilize top employment sites when advertising an open position with their company. If students are aware of what types of jobs are available, locations, and what is entailed, they may be more likely to modify their course choices according to what is actually out there. Individuals who have not yet entered the job market need a clear and realistic view of the employment conditions and what will be expected of them in order to become a well-rounded candidate.
Extract existing hidden talents
Quite often, employers are not aware of the hidden capabilities among their existing work staff. It’s important to remain in tune with employees, document all of their skills, and promote job mobility from within the organization. Very often, a new employee may not disclose certain skills because they mistakenly believe it may not be pertinent to their job. Leaving an open area on job applications for varied and atypical skills or addressing the subject during interviews can help employers glean a more detailed understanding of a candidate’s qualifications.
Partner with educators
One of the most obvious ways of bridging the gap between employee skills and employer expectations is to deal directly at the source. Teaming with corporate training organizations, colleges, and universities is not a new concept, yet many organizations may fail to utilize this option. One corporation who did take advantage of the opportunity was IBM, who in 2014, collaborated with 28 universities and business schools, designing guides to assist in preparing students for future employment at the organization.
The opportunities are numerous for business leaders to assist in bridging the skills gap and improve our nation’s ability to create quality talent, and in turn, quality products and services which all help to boost our economy. Therefore, employers must consider the importance of their role in the development of job candidates and employees.
Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200