A skills gap might sound like a convenient excuse perpetuated by disgruntled employees or displeased superiors, but it is real – and a real concern in the United States.
Simply put, the skills gap is the divide between what employers need and what employees are trained to accomplish. Today, technology advances at a much faster pace than it did in the 1990’s or early 00’s. What was cutting-edge only a few years ago might be obsolete today or tomorrow; likewise, procedures for executing certain work-related tasks and responsibilities can change overnight. Some employees, especially those who have been with the company longer or have been on the job force for many years, find that they no longer have the necessary training for certain tasks. This is the skills gap in action.
The skills gap occurs because employers learn about more effective or efficient ways of doing things, or technology makes the old way of doing things obsolete. Often, a new method requires new knowledge or different skill sets from those that employees currently use.
A good way to ensure that you don’t fall victim to the skills gap is to take any employer-provided training courses. If your employer reimburses college courses or certification programs, take advantage of the opportunity to stay current on your knowledge. If your employer does not offer any sort of career advancement courses or opportunities, stay up-to-date on your field’s latest research and consider investing in a course to learn the new information.
Employers, one way to retain employees and avoid turnover (as well as the costs associated with training) is to keep current employees fresh on the latest news in your field.
Along with the potential of long-term or older employees not being up-to-date on the newest technologies and advances in their fields, another factor that plays into the skills gap is simply a lack of graduates in the field. Some fields are becoming more obsolete, making it more difficult to find suitable candidates for employment.
Compensation can also contribute to a skills gap – some employees do not find themselves motivated to learn new skills when they do not feel adequately compensated. Employees can encourage extra training by offering bonuses and rewards for additional certifications or credits earned by employees.
There are a few reasons that companies may want to consider taking the skills gap seriously. It costs money. It creates turnover. It’s bad for morale.
Consider putting programs in place to reduce or eliminate this phenomenon in the workplace.
First, compensate fairly and reward additional training. Next, put offer some kind of incentive or credit for courses taken on the employee’s time (and dime). Third, hire employees who are already at the cutting-edge of current trends in your workspace.
With these steps, businesses can improve on the skills gap and retain valuable employees. It’s a win-win.