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Is the Solution to the Skills Gap Already in your Business?

Finding it difficult to fill roles to meet the rapid pace of technological development and changing demands? The skills shortage is cutting across all industries and isn’t just limited to the UK. According to McKinsey’s Global Survey on future workforce needs 99% of managers report facing skill gaps or expect gaps to develop within 5 years.

Businesses tend to try to close the skills gap by either recruiting people with the specific skill required or by re-skilling.

Recruiting to close the skills gap

Many businesses report either a lack or recruits, or a lack of specific skills in the available market. However, before embarking on an expensive recruitment drive that may leave you wondering where have all the candidates gone, have you considered the solution to your problem could already be in your business?

It may be that someone has the skills needed for a specific role that you were unaware of. However, if that's not the case, it could be that you have employees who are looking to develop their skill base further, or they already have some knowledge in a critical area. Either way, the answer to your business’s skills gap could be employee upskilling.

What is Employee Upskilling?

Employee upskilling is when you offer your existing workforce the chance to learn new skills and develop their knowledge. It’s a great way to boost staff retention and satisfaction. You can do this is a variety of ways – internal and external training courses, apprenticeships, mentoring or peer coaching.

Is upskilling just for younger workers?

With changing demographics in the workforce, and a rising retirement threshold, we are all working for longer. So, what does that mean for the workplace? Well, you could actually have five generations in the workplace! Studies have shown the effectiveness of age diverse workforces.

Older workers often have better ‘soft skills’, through their work experience, skills which can often be harder to teach. You might already employ some ready-made mentors and coaching and mentors in the making.

There’ s also the opportunity to facilitate the re-entry of older adults into the workforce, a change can be as good as a rest!

According to Deloitte’s 2022 Gen Z’s and Millennial Survey, the younger generation are keen to be heard, and are looking for meaningful roles. They embrace companies who provide opportunities for growth.

Interesting Ted Talk by Chip Conley from Airbnb on learning and working together across the generations

Top Tips for Upskilling Your Employees

We’ve put together some key points to consider when upskilling your employees.

1. Understand what you need

It can be easy to lose sight of the detail when you are constantly worried about recruitment or not having the right talent. So, create specific business goals for the next 12 months, then drill down into precisely what skills are needed in your business to achieve these.

2. Understand what you have

Take a look at your onboarding process. When you recruit new employees, do you record all of their training and experience in a matrix, or do you focus on the role they were recruited for? If you haven't considered such a matrix, now is an excellent time to visit the idea. Understanding where people have skills that fall into other job roles can be a great way of managing potential skill gaps when they appear.

Similarly, when conducting appraisals or reviews, do managers ask employees about their aspirations for the future or about any training or courses they have undertaken in their spare time? You could have a customer service rep who has taken a course in digital marketing in their spare time as this is what they eventually want to do, which could be a skill you need.

If you haven't previously done either of these things, now would be a great time to make them standard processes in your business.

Once you know what you need, what you have, and the career aspirations of your current employees, you can start thinking about upskilling.

3. Create an upskilling plan

One of the first things to do is determine a budget. Bear in mind, this is not a one-off process and is something you ideally allocate a yearly budget for. Think about the possibility of external funding that could help you financially. Next, prioritise the skills needed. These could be skill gaps that have a severe impact on the business or skills that an employee already has some knowledge in and just needs a quick refresher.

4. Look at all upskilling options

People learn in different ways, and it's essential to keep this in mind when deciding what upskilling methods, you want to use.

Just a few options you could consider are:

  • Internal experts

  • External training experts

  • Self-paced online learning

  • Seminars/webinars

  • Mentorship programmes

  • Apprenticeships

If you have in-house expertise you can use, you could train those employees up as trainers for as little as £199. Take a look at our Level 3 Award in Education and Training course.

Supportive Solutions approach

At Supportive Solutions, we provide face-to-face and virtual delivery of almost 100 accredited courses. From management and leadership to health and social care, from health and safety to employee wellbeing.

The idea of upskilling your employees could feel like a lot of work, but you're not alone. If you are considering hiring external experts to help upskill your current employees, we can help you.

At Supportive Solutions, we provide face-to-face and virtual delivery of almost 100 accredited courses. From management and leadership to health and social care, from health and safety to employee wellbeing. We find the perfect course for your needs. So, what are you waiting for? Get in touch


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