Importance of skill development in making your workforce future-ready

September 17, 2021 By
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Modern technology is growing exponentially, with new advancements coming up every day and disrupting the usual work practices. Continuous process improvement followed by innovations have compelled the organizations to change and adapt new business models. As a result, it created a skills gap, where the skills offered by the employees do not match with the skills required by the employers.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought in economic hardships, and abrupt layoffs have widened this already existing gap. At the same time, this has emphasized the importance of skill development, as it will help the workforce find jobs as per their competency levels.

According to the World Economic Forum, more than a billion people will need to be reskilled by 2030.

Thus, companies must take an active step and provide employees with the opportunities for upskilling. Keeping up with recent technology trends has become the need of the hour for employability for any workforce.

Bridge the skill gap

Read on to know more about why skill development will play an instrumental role in making your workforce ready for the future.

Let us look at some of these skill gaps.

1. What are the skill gaps in the current workforce?

Numerous industries are currently facing skill gaps and striving to bridge them.

Here is a list of the most prominent ones:

  • Manufacturing

High tech skills are always in demand and will remain so in the future. However, in the manufacturing sector, skill gaps are also present in non-digital roles, such as machining, assembly, and process-oriented knowledge.

There are two primary reasons behind this growing skills gap. First, the manufacturing industry is very competitive, and companies are usually forced to minimize costs. As a result, they are unable to invest in employee training and development programs. Second, the implementation of IoT, Cloud, and Big Data has made manufacturing a digital industry that requires less labor and more professionals with technological expertise.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics found that vacancies in manufacturing firms have increased threefold in the last decade.

  • Information Technology (IT)

The emergence of novel tech trends has compelled companies to upgrade their tech infrastructure, for which they require professionals with niche skills. However, finding employees who are well equipped to handle these roles can be challenging.

For example, modern-day organizations require competency in Python, whereas traditional IT professionals have been trained in programming languages such as JAVA and C++. In addition, the curriculum of IT courses in colleges has not been updated to meet current industry demands either.

IT companies have reported that the talent pools are not qualified enough, and limited budgets stop them from hiring ideal candidates. On the other hand, IT professionals consider that the job requirements in the industry are unrealistic and often do not match the compensation offered for the role.

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  • Construction

There is a widely recognized shortage of skilled workers and labor in the construction industry. The skill gap is steadily increasing because old laborers are leaving their roles, and new workers are actively seeking less labor-intensive positions.

Numerous construction projects are getting delayed since contractors can’t find qualified workers who can be allocated to site work. As a result, construction firms are increasing their benefits to attract workers, yet they are losing new talent to other industries that promise competitive salaries and stable work.

CITB reports that the industry itself is not appealing to the younger generation of workers, making it difficult for the companies to retain talented professionals. In addition, the companies are not willing to invest in inexperienced workers for highly specialized fields that involve dealing with heavy and potentially dangerous equipment.

  • Healthcare

The healthcare industry is undergoing a soft skills gap, primarily due to stress and technology. As the cost of healthcare services has increased, so has the patient’s level of expectation from the healthcare organization, which can leave professionals exhausted.

Technology also plays a role in enforcing the skill gap. New joiners in the workforce have used digital means of communication and sometimes are not well equipped to handle situational face-to-face communication.

Pharmacy Times reports that in the United States, more than 1.5 million new employees arrive prepared and competent for the job with the required hard skills. However, within 1.5 years of employment, 46% of employees underperform because of work ethic and attitude issues.

Now that we have gone through the skill gaps let us see how we can bridge these skill gaps.

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2. How can you bridge the skill gaps?

Skill development is an essential means of bridging the widening skills gap. Organizations should look at the skill gap not as a vice but as an opportunity to future-proof their workforce. Here are a few ways in which you can reduce the skill gap.

  • Set up a Learning & Development department

Organizations should set up and invest in a Learning and Development (L&D) department, which can help them achieve short-term and long-term goals. The L&D department will be responsible for conducting formalized training and performance checks, ensuring smooth onboarding and upskilling procedures.

In addition, they have to ascertain that there is continuous development in human capital. While technology advances and older systems become obsolete with time, the value of human capital declines. Thus, companies must set up a dedicated L&D department to create a future-ready workforce. Employees would also find it rewarding to work for a company that invests in their growth and provides newer opportunities to showcase their talents.

  • Create an Individual Development Plan (IDP) for each employee

The Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a framework that facilitates organizations to assist their employees in career development. It is unique to each employee based on their career goals and objectives.

The IDP helps the managers to understand the skill gaps, the employee’s professional goals, and strengths. As a result, managers can design personalized training and learning modules to provide realistic development plans to improve current job performance.

However, IDP is not a one-time process; it is continuous. Therefore, it can be considered a partnership between a mentor and an employee. The mentor thoroughly evaluates the employee’s motivation to undergo the training, current skill set, and future goals. He/she also provides continuous feedback and ensures that the exercises bring positive results to the individuals, and the newly developed acumen is exhibited in future endeavors.

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  • Facilitate employee’s availability based on the training schedule

The supervisors should ensure that all the trainees attend the training programs. If some employees miss out on the scheduled training, it should ideally be planned for them once again. Rearranging training for the employees can be expensive and time-consuming for the organization; hence it should be avoided.

It is also imperative that the individuals undergoing the training attend the whole program. They should not be assigned other tasks during the training. Thus, project managers and training professionals should communicate to ensure the employees’ presence without hindering the project’s progress before setting up the training calendar.

Training the employees who are on the bench is an effective way to bridge the skill gaps. It will allow them to take on diverse projects and minimize the bench time effectively.

  • Ensure practical exposure post theoretical training

Practical exposure is equally necessary as theoretical training, as it provides employees the opportunity to implement their newly learned skills into real-world scenarios. The primary purpose of practical exposure is to ensure that the employees are ready to handle newer responsibilities.

Thus, managers must ascertain that the employees are allocated on appropriate projects to use these competencies. In addition, the employees should be given ample time to hone them.

Organizations should assign projects to the newly trained employees soon after their training is complete. If the employees cannot practice their skills post-training, they will eventually forget the theoretical concepts. Thus, the activity will not be productive, and the individuals will have to undergo another session to revisit the same subjects.

  • Assess the future skill demands and formulate training

Organizations are involved in a large number of projects and require expertise in multiple fields. When project managers look at the upcoming projects, they can evaluate and forewarn the resource manager about the skill demand. The resource manager will then gauge the capacity and demand gap and convey the requirements to the L&D. The L&D department will then take active steps to bridge these gaps.

Companies also need to stay well aware of the current market trends. Identifying the trends help them to formulate training curriculums in a manner that the skills remain relevant for the future.

Instead of only focusing on technical skills, courses should be formulated around soft skills too. For example, individuals who wish to earn a promotion should be given management, leadership, and communication training. Additionally, diversity and inclusivity training should be mandatory for everyone since companies are now hiring talents from across the globe.

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3. How can resource management help future-proof your workforce?

Implementing resource management software can help you achieve wonders with your workforce. Its advanced components include resource forecasting, capacity planning, and resource planning, allowing businesses to future-proof their workforce against market volatilities and uncertainties.

Resource managers can compare the existing resource capacity against the upcoming project demands based on several factors such as role, department, team, skills, and more. These comparisons help them analyze if they have adequate resources to fulfill the project demands.

If not, they can enlist the skill requirements to the concerned authority, initiate upskilling and training programs, or even hire a competent workforce. Moreover, resource managers can also procure people on the bench reports that will help them re-train the appropriate resources and minimized bench size.

For example, consider an upcoming project requires content writers with SEO knowledge. However, if the content writers within the company do not have expertise in SEO, the L&D department can organize training on this subject ahead of time. Thus, the content writers will be well versed in SEO and execute the project successfully.

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4. Conclusion

Technology is evolving every day, and industries are steadily moving towards automation. However, organizations cannot solely depend upon technology to sail through this era of rapid and unpredictable change. Instead, they need to build a workforce that is motivated to learn, upskill themselves, and ready to go beyond their traditional responsibilities. Skill development will address the current skill gaps and pave the way towards creating a future-ready workforce.

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Anubhab Kar & Dipayan Deshmukh

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