employee-background-checksThrough the recession and in its wake, much has been said about the unemployment rate and the inability of qualified jobseekers to land positions that match their education and skill levels. Yet employers have faced a similar dilemma: the inability to fill open positions due to a lack of qualified candidates. This so-called skills gap has plagued US employers for years and is particularly problematic for companies looking to fill middle-skills jobs, or those that require training greater than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree.
Although it seems to be an oddity in an economy with a glut of frustrated jobseekers, various factors explain the skills gap. Significantly, the rapidly changing nature of technology makes it difficult for candidates to keep pace with employers’ job requirements. Schools cannot teach students technologies that do not yet exist, so employers that expect proficiency in newer technologies in addition to years of work experience may be left disappointed.
The power to close the skills gap lies primarily in the hands of employers affected by it. Here are some steps that companies may take in order to reduce their number of unfilled positions:
1) Cultivate relationships with local schools, including universities and technical colleges. If educators have a clear understanding of the knowledge and skills their students will need in order to successfully obtain employment, they may hone their curricula in order to cover these requirements. Establishing an open dialogue with schools reduces the burden on employers to train new hires. A strong educator-employer rapport also paves the way for student apprenticeships, which help employers size up future candidates while instilling in them practical skills that will actually be required to perform the job duties.
2) Reassess hiring criteria. Sometimes, employers may find that hiring a candidate who lacks a certain degree or amount of experience may produce a better and more cost-effective end result than adhering to rigid criteria. By focusing on intangible qualities such as dedication, willingness to learn, and adaptability, employers may discover highly competent candidates who will exceed the job requirements after a little training. Companies should also be wary of hiring software, which may screen out otherwise qualified jobseekers who fall a bit short on a few criteria.
3) Provide comprehensive training programs. Training employees is an investment, but it is one on which companies are likely to enjoy a positive return. Employer-directed training helps organizations tailor their new hires to satisfy their needs and allows them to teach employees the latest technologies. Additionally, training and development opportunities foster employee engagement with the organization, increasing workers’ loyalty and productivity.
4) Offer competitive wages and benefits packages. Like training programs, providing competitive wages and benefits is an investment. But basic economics dictates that highly-skilled candidates will enjoy a wide array of options for employment, and will likely choose the offer with the most attractive compensation package.
The strongest candidates do not always come with all of the skills and experience that companies envision. Through investing in new hires and taking a broader approach to scouting candidates, companies will narrow the skills gap and enjoy the competitive advantage of having a talented workforce.
The HR professionals at CBR can help you close the skills gap and build a workforce that will accelerate your organization’s success. Contact CBR today!
(Sources: https://hbr.org/2014/08/employers-arent-just-whining-the-skills-gap-is-real, https://www.forbes.com/sites/groupthink/2013/08/02/can-we-fix-the-skills-gap/, https://fortune.com/2015/03/05/how-corporate-america-can-close-the-skills-gap/, https://www.inc.com/magazine/201404/cait-murphy/skills-gap-in-the-labor-force.html).