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January 04, 2022

Guide to Conducting an Effective Skills Gap Analysis

We all know that having a skilled and competent workforce is at the heart of any successful organisation. But how can you ensure that the skills within your organisation are fit for purpose – both now and in the future? 

Conducting a skills gap analysis may hold the key.

Key Takeaways

With a highly skilled workforce at the heart of any organisation, a skills gap analysis can make sure that your organisation is prepared for future challenges and remains competitive.

A skills gap analysis can help you to align your organisational goals to the skills needed to achieve them.

A skills gap analysis can help employees to feel valued and supported through rigorous skills development programmes.

What is a Skills Gap Analysis?

A skills gap analysis is a comprehensive process to assess – and then address the skills gaps within your organisation. It is a data driven activity that takes away the guesswork when developing and delivering changes to your organisation’s structure and introducing impactful recruitment processes and training programmes.

By exploring the existing skills within an organisation, as well as the future skills needs, a skills gap analysis is an essential tool to support an organisation’s strategic goals.


Why Conduct a Skills Gap Analysis

A skills gap analysis can pay dividends for your organisation. Taking an objective, fact-based approach to assessing skills needs both now and in the future will keep your business ahead of the game and futureproof it for the inevitable changes in the years to come.  

That’s because your organisation’s skills needs shouldn’t simply be based on the here and now; it’s critical to address the skills you’ll require in the future, today. In 2018, the World Economic Forum found that at least 54% of all workers will need to update or replace their competencies by 2022, based largely on the digitalisation of the workplace. 

From lightning fast technological changes, through to cultural shifts, in years to come, your workplace may potentially look very different. Some roles may become redundant due to the introduction of automation and artificial intelligence, whereas other job roles may need re-defining – plus new roles may need to be identified and planned for. What’s more, the pandemic has accelerated changing work patterns and consumer behaviour, meaning that your business may need to swiftly embrace change to survive and thrive.

Predicting these changes in advance and identifying the potential impact this will have on the overall performance of your business, the make up of your workforce and the skills needed to address these changes is critical for your business to stay ahead of the game and remain competitive.


How to Perform a Skills Gap Analysis

The best way to complete a comprehensive skills gap analysis is to take a process driven approach and breaking it down into key steps.

Identify the Skills Needed

To undertake a truly effective skills gap analysis, you need to start with your organisation’s future goals, as these are the ultimate driver behind your need for a skilled workforce. Where do you want it to be in five years’ time? How are you planning to achieve these goals? By doing this, you will gain a clearer picture of the collective direction of travel for your employees and organisation alike, and will guide you in starting your journey to finding out the skills you’ll need to achieve, or even exceed your company’s goals.  

Measure Current Skills

Once you’ve identified the skills needed, you will need to assess the skills within your organisation. Ideally this should be done on two levels, taking into the account of the abilities of each employee, as well as each team. Information gathered during this phase should be mapped against existing job descriptions and scored against importance, to analyse where there are current gaps that need to be addressed, where job roles may need to change and where training and additional recruitment may be needed.

This may seem like an overwhelming task, but you can draw on existing sources of information, as well as adopting new data collection methods to gain an accurate picture of current skills. These can include:

  • Using information collected as part of your annual appraisal process on individual performance measurements. This will help you to gain a picture of the skills of each employee, including where there are gaps in their abilities.
  • Surveys, interviews and assessments. This could include interviews with employees to get their personal feedback on their abilities, giving you insights into where they feel they may be lacking in skills.
  • A 360 feedback programme. Gaining feedback about and from team members and line managers can help to build a more accurate picture of both a team’s, as well as an individual’s skills gaps.

Act on the Data

Once you’ve mapped your employees skills and abilities against the current and future needs of your organisation, it’s time to act!

Upskilling existing employees

Your skills gap analysis will identify where training interventions may be needed to improve performance at an individual, team and organisational level. It will directly inform your future training programmes to provide existing employees with the skills and knowledge they may need to perform tasks at the level required both now and in the future.

Mentoring is also a great option for helping your employees to grow. For many organisations, an ageing population means that skills are being lost as highly experienced employees retire. Mentoring can help employees to grow into their roles with long term guidance from colleagues within the organisation – or beyond.

Long term training solutions could also include introducing apprenticeship or graduate trainee programmes, to attract and retain the next generation. By developing bespoke programmes, you are able to create your own talent pipeline that’s aligned directly to your organisation’s needs and help to retain valued employees.

Recruiting

Your skills gap analysis should highlight where additional skills are required, and where new roles may need to be created. It should also help to streamline the recruitment process, helping you to pinpoint the job level, skills requirements and behaviours that are needed from your candidates. Moreover, a commitment to the long term development of your workforce will help to attract – and ultimately retain, the best candidates for the job at a time when filling vacant positions is increasingly difficult.

Outsourcing

There may be times when you need someone with specific skills to help successfully complete an individual project over a short period of time, or to undertake specialist tasks that don’t require a full time member of staff, such as a graphic designer. Or maybe you simply need additional support during particularly busy times. On these occasions, outsourcing may offer the perfect option, allowing you to quickly draw on expertise at the time you most need it.


Conclusion

A skills gap analysis can help you to strategically plan for the future, improve your recruitment processes and develop a more highly skilled and productive workforce. Ultimately, it’s great for your business to prepare for the unexpected, as well as address the challenges that the digital age brings.