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Photo: Svitlana, YFS Magazine, Adobe Stock

Here’s Why Startups Should Identify and Close Skill Gaps

With 43% of businesses currently experiencing skill gaps, let’s look at why it's essential for startups to identify and close them.


For any new business to succeed it needs to concentrate on building a strong and dependable workforce. Yet, building a team can be daunting. You may not know which areas you need to cover right away.

Getting the right people in place takes careful planning. With 43% of businesses currently experiencing skill gaps, let’s look at why it’s essential for startups to identify and close skill gaps.

 

What is a skill gap?

The nature of technology means it is always changing and adapting to new needs. Many jobs are becoming automated but there are just as many new types of jobs or roles that are opening up.

These new roles require a different skillset to those which are becoming outdated, so employees must retrain. That same principle applies to companies and organizations too. Ultimately, a skill gap is when the skills of your workforce don’t match up to the skills they need to perform their jobs.

 

Closing skill gaps

If you don’t continually encourage your employees to develop new skills, your company may find a skill gap beginning to grow within. The more this is left unattended, the greater the gap will become.

For example, if your business requires a lot of mechanical maintenance you could consider developing your employees’ understanding of their role through trade skills. Perhaps if you have skill gaps elsewhere, say in leadership, arranging a management seminar will close the gaps.

This gap might be in hard or soft skills. For instance, soft skills that are the most challenging to fill include critical thinking, communication, and creativity. Training hard skills is typically easier to identify and the benefits are more tangible.

It’s easier to ‘top-up’ your employees’ skills as you go rather than finding yourself needing to fill various gaps at once. This can be expensive if you need to send your employees on a course in their masses. Not only is there a potential outlay for any third-party education but your company will face added downtime and pressure while these employees are away.

 

Stay ahead of the game

The first step is to assess your company’s operations and identify any areas which present a skill gap, or potential gaps in the near future. Often, many companies only realize they have a skill gap when it’s too late. Training people in-house can be more affordable and faster than finding the perfect outside hire.

There is a bonus in helping your employees to improve their skills; they will feel more appreciated in your faith and confidence in their abilities. Studies indicate that employees stay 41% longer at companies with high rates of internal hiring.

Your skill gap analysis might not throw up any immediate concerns but it can highlight areas for improvement and growth opportunities. You may also find that some of your employees already have the skills you have identified as a gap or potential gap, it’s just that they don’t currently use them within their role.

There is also the fact that while the latest tech skills are needed, they are also those in danger of becoming outdated the fastest. This is why it’s important to upskill at any given opportunity to ensure your organization is using the latest and best practices possible.

 

How companies reskill their workforce

In the past, many companies believed it was better to employ new staff to fill the skill gaps in their company. However, today’s job market makes it harder than ever to find people to slot into your organization with ready-made skills for your role.

Training and development are essential for reskilling and closing any gaps. To better meet goals, most businesses agree that they need to acquire new skills; a different study discovered nine in 10 UK organizations admitted to facing a shortage of digital skills.

The best starting point is to put all of the skills your organization needs to be successful in one place. Then, take a look at which ones you need to become essential over the next decade.

Obviously, this isn’t easy to predict unless you are at the forefront of any technological changes in your industry. However, it’s still possible to look for more general skills that could improve your business going forwards. Things like data literacy, which frequently becomes more complex, can become outdated in just a few years.

 

Case in point

Perhaps one shining example of how a company recently closed its skill gap is Tesco. When the pandemic hit Tesco found a large hole in its online processing department. Many people switched to buying their groceries online as leaving the house was an unknown quantity at that time.

Tesco needed many of its newly-hired staff to reskill and 45,000 furloughed workers were brought in to process online orders. 16,000 of those workers who reskilled were then hired full-time in their new roles. Tesco benefited by expanding its hiring pool while simultaneously helping its workers to develop their skills.

 

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Photo: Svitlana, YFS Magazine, Adobe Stock
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