Chicken or the egg: are organizations not able to hire because they cannot find qualified workers, or can job seekers not obtain quality jobs because they lack the right skills? Who is to blame, and what should be fixed first?
Th skills gap has been a hot topic of discussion for several years now, as economists, labor experts, recruiters, learning and development professionals, human resources executives, and educators continue to weigh in on this seeming paradox: more jobs are opening up, yet hiring rates are staying relatively flat.
According to the blog of online education tracker Degreed, there are actually two skills gaps taking place: the first is an Actual Skills Gap, or the gap between the needed skills and skills that are present.
The second is a Perceived Skills Gap, which is the difference between what skills employees think they have, versus the skills that hiring managers think they have.
Typically, workers think they are twice as qualified as the hiring manager believes. A job seeker’s overconfidence — or perhaps blatant lying — paired with what may be a critical or pessimistic view from managers further perpetuates this gap, preventing hiring and ultimately, slowing down productivity.
On the flip side yet also a contributor to the Perceived Skills Gap, especially among software engineers and technology professionals, is Impostor Syndrome, in which some professionals lack confidence in their abilities and continually question their skill sets. This may prevent them from applying for jobs or taking advantage of opportunities in the marketplace.
The course design process doesn’t need to be painful. A Learning Experience Design System can help.
What is an organization supposed to do to address the skills gap? Further, what can employees do to make sure that they can skill up and remain relevant not only to the organization but also in their careers?
One is for L&D leaders to conduct regular audits with divisions, departments, and managers, to determine if employees’ current skills are mapped to the organization’s product, service, or client needs. This serves to lessen the Perceived Skills Gap and ensure that there are no misunderstandings of employee capabilities. Employees can be tested, formally and informally, to verify whether they indeed possess the necessary skills, so that there are no surprises.
Additionally, regular audits by L&D help to perpetuate a culture of learning and reinforce the importance of skills-based competencies to the company’s bottom line. This demonstrates to both managers and employees alike that the organization treats the learning function with a structured and disciplined approach.
Another solution to the skills gap is to have a process in place in which courses can be built and made available for learners continuously, even with short lead times. A learning experience design system enables L&D leaders to identify in-house subject matter experts who provide the necessary, valuable content which form the basis of courses that are developed rapidly and at scale. Courses adhere to proven instructional design principles, can be customized for the individual learner’s needs, and include a feedback loop so changes can be made quickly.
In a continuous environment of course availability and learning, both the Actual and Perceived Skills Gaps theoretically will cease to exist. The organization will be made aware at all times of the organization’s current skill sets and can address any shortfalls immediately.
“Successful CLOs realize that their employees are a competitive advantage, and they deserve the same (if not higher) investment than what we put into our products,” notes the Degreed blog.