#Nextchat: Skills Gaps and Employee Development



Is your organization finding the talent it needs to fill skills gaps?  Are you finding that it’s becoming increasingly necessary to develop the skills of your current workers?

The SHRM Online article These HR Leaders Are Going ‘All In’ to Bridge the Skills Gap says “Employers worldwide are facing the most acute talent shortage since the Great Recession, according to the results of ManpowerGroup’s 2016-2017 Talent Shortage Survey, released last fall. Of the 42,000 employers surveyed globally, 40 percent reported having a hard time finding qualified people to fill critical positions, the highest level since 2007. With skills requirements changing rapidly, more than half of the employers chose to develop and train their own people.”

The article also mentions that many employers that cut their training and development during the recession “are now giving back and investing in employees,” says Chris Layden, managing director of Experis, a division of Manpower Group. That’s a good thing, since more than one-third of working adults say they need more education and training to get ahead in their job or career, according to the results of the State of American Jobs survey by the Pew Research Center and the Markle Foundation, released last fall.

The shortage of candidates with the right skills has many employers changing their strategies so they can reskill and upskill workers who are already on board. This approach requires having specific goals for each employee, and understanding the skills that workers currently hold and the skills they will need to fill future roles. It also requires organizations to modify their training and development programs to ensure that employees have specific knowledge to fill the gaps. And with new technology available, employers will be able to offer more options for mobile and social learning and gamification. Mentoring and peer-to-peer programs are also on the rise.   

The article highlights several examples of how employers are building the skills they need, such as the following:   

HR Director Secret Holland at Gas South LLC launched an internal learning management system to improve competency-based training opportunities for all 230 of Gas South’s employees, but she’s focusing particularly on its 100 customer service employees. She also revamped the performance management system, adding individual professional development goals. To ensure that their companies have the right people with the right skills, HR professionals must take on the roles of forecaster, investigator and project manager … . “We have to figure out what workforce we need to ensure that the company is ready for the future. To me, it always starts with your business goals,” Holland says.

Talent acquisition leader and author of the book You’re Hired! Interview Skills to Get the Job Lorne Epstein says that “States such as Tennessee offer free community college education to their residents, and Ohio has a similar program to partner with local businesses to develop training that will bring people into the workforce. We are at the dawn of a new age in education where the technology exists for people to get job-specific training for free or at very low cost. The free flow of information, if properly nurtured, will free workers to explore new careers and bring more people into the workface, increase productivity, tax revenue and a reduction in services to the unemployed. I look forward to putting myself into the middle of this challenge as my career in talent acquisition progresses.”

In her blog post How 21st Century Leaders Develop Their Teams, future workplace speaker and author Alexandra Levit, author of They Don’t Teach Corporate in College, interviewed three business leaders on how they develop teams. Joey Kercher, CEO of Air Fresh marketing says, “We develop rising leaders by first hiring the best people. We look for those who have expertise and intelligence as well as the capacity for growth.”

How is your organization coping with skills gaps, and how are you changing internal talent management processes to develop and train—and reskill or upskill—the employees you already have?

Please join @shrmnextchat at 3 p.m. ET on August 16 for #Nextchat with special guests Lorne Epstein (@LorneEpstein) and “ Alexandra Levit (@alevit). We’ll chat about how organizations are filling skills gaps now and preparing for the future.


Q1. What skilled positions or skill sets are you having the hardest time filling or finding now? 

Q2. What are your greatest challenges with developing your current employees to fill in your skills gaps?

Q3. How do you assess your employees’ ability or aptitude for future roles that will fill skills gaps (i.e., strengths tests, Myers-Briggs tests or HR software)?  

Q4. How have you boosted your organization’s training and professional development programs to help fill skills gaps?

Q5. How are you working with external organizations such as colleges or trade schools to develop programs to fill your skills gaps?

Q6. How are you incorporating mentorships and peer-to-peer training to help develop employees to fill skills gaps?

Q7. How is your organization proactively forecasting and identifying future skill needs?

Q8. How are you keeping employees, whose new skills you develop, from leaving your organization?


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