Bridging the skills gap in 2022 and beyond | Unit4
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Bridging the skills gap in 2022 and beyond

from  November 24, 2022 | 3 min read

We’ve spoken about skills gaps extensively before – and provided a lot of actionable insight for overcoming them. But the latest data from the HR Research Institute shows that the problem is still at the forefront of HR leaders’ minds – with more than half saying that over 20% of their workforce suffers from skills gaps.

The HR Research Institute’s Skills Gap Pulse Survey – conducted from June to September 2022 – gathered responses from over 200 HR professionals in every industry vertical. Respondents are located all over the world. The participants represent a broad cross section of employers by number of employees, ranging from small businesses with fewer than 50 employees to enterprises with 20,000+ employees.

Skills gap pulse: the results

In 2022, HR pros tell us that 22% of their workforce already lag behind in the skills they need to do their jobs effectively. They also believe that this figure will rise to 38% over the next two years.

There are many areas where organizations will need to bridge skills gaps – but the most important by far, rather than specific technical skills, subject matter expertise, or the like, is in the realm of leadership, with 67% of respondents saying that it represents their largest skill gap.

Soft-skills overall are also a leader, with 54% of respondents saying skills gaps related to skills like communications, critical thinking, and problem solving represent the skills gaps which are most difficult for them to address.

But beyond these areas, organizations have skills gaps when it comes to identifying their skills gaps

15% of organizations don’t take any steps to identify their skills gaps at all – a worryingly large number considering this has been a point of discussion for all organizations for much of the last two decades.

Of the 85% that do, the two most common methods used to identify them are fairly primitive. 51% use performance appraisals, and 54% rely on subjective managerial assessments. On top of this, only 34% of organizations employ any kind of formal skills framework, and cite barriers like a lack of time and resources, a lack of knowledge, a lack of support from leadership and, ironically, a lack of skills relevant to the organization of a skills library.

Learning and development isn’t the beginning and end of skills planning

75% of organizations use learning and development initiatives to address skills gaps, including through on the job training, direct coaching and mentoring, instructor-led face-to-face physical or virtual classroom learning, learning management systems or e-learning systems, and blended learning.

However, many are leaving more sophisticated methods of addressing their skills gaps on the table: 29% of organizations address skills gaps through external hires, suggesting that L&D efforts are failing to help them grow the skills that a 3rd of organizations need to survive and thrive. Relatedly, only 27% use internal talent mobility to address skills gaps.

This is particularly troublesome in light of the fact that less than half of organizations are using skills gap information to address either succession planning or talent mobility, and are potentially failing to capitalize on the talent they already have in-house to secure their organizational future.

Skills gaps: size matters

Small to medium organizations are more than twice as likely to see teamwork-related skills as their largest gap. They’re also much more likely to say soft skills are more difficult than hard skills to address, and are much less likely to have formal skills networks.

What can you do to overcome your skills gaps?

Organizations have multiple options available when taking steps to overcome their skills gaps:

  • Make the case: addressing skills gaps is important, and it's up to HR leaders to take responsibility for developing a business case that shows this (with particular attention to the value of talent development and the costs associated with failing to bridge skills gaps.)
  • Get leadership buy-in: as with all change initiatives, you’ll need sponsorship from your organization’s leadership team to ensure success.
  • Create a formal skills framework: you won’t be able to accurately assess your skills gaps without a solid idea of the skills you need.
  • Measure your skills gaps: until your skills gaps are quantified, you won’t be able to address them.
  • Take advantage of talent mobility and succession planning: much of the raw material you need to close your skills gaps probably already exists in your organization with the people you already have.

How can Unit4 help you?

Developing formal skills frameworks and proactively addressing your skills gaps requires the right tools. Unit4’s HCM platform provides the flexible foundation for distributed talent management and the level of insight into your current skills and your future skills needs you’ll need to help your organization achieve success in the future. Click here to learn more about what our technology can do for you or click here to book a demo.

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