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Bridging the Skills Gap from Within

Posted by Brian Sorenson on October 4, 2016

Topics: Workforce Development, Employee Engagement, Knowledge Transfer, career development, Talent Mobility

The skills gap—or talent gap—is real. Defined as the gap between the skills a position demands and the shortage of available employees who are capable of meeting them, the skills gap threatens to undermine economic gains, hinder the competitiveness of our workforce, stifle innovation and harm employee morale.    

Today, as many as 40 percent of U.S. jobs remain unfilled owing to a lack of skilled adult workers with the training they need. Business Champions, a collaboration of leaders at top companies from around the country, says that a failure to make up this gap could create a shortage of five million employees by 2020. Fortunately, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) might have found a solution for this gloomy trend: AT&T’s decision to invest in and reskill more than 100,000 of its existing employees.

In an interview with Deloitte’s Cathy Benko, a vice chairman at the professional services firm, we can find a number of best practices that an organization of any size can follow to bridge a skill gap. These practices include:

  • Acknowledging that the way employees perceive career development is no longer based on the linear, corporate ladder style it once may have been; consequently, organizations should seize on this change and appeal to employees’ desire to remain relevant and competitive in their careers
  • Respecting that upskilling should be aimed at employees of all ages, not just those fresh out of college
  • Remaining transparent about potential future prospects within the organization that employees who take advantage of upskilling opportunities could earn
  • Emphasizing the mutuality of upskilling, highlighting how developing skills that can grant access to new positions within the organization can be personally fulfilling as well

Solutions, like tuition assistance benefits, can help employees gain the skills they need when they’re properly motivated and are made to appreciate taking advantage of the benefits.  

To read the entire HBR article, click here. For more background on upskilling, check out A Guide to Upskilling America’s Frontline Workers.