What Employee Skills Gaps Mean for HR

Erin Biehl
Erin Biehl
Jul 23 2023
5 min read
What Employee Skills Gaps Mean for HR

Almost every HR department is aware of employee skill gaps, but overall, they are still getting worse. That’s because there are factors that are beyond the control of almost everybody which are increasing the rate of skill gaps in most industries. So it’s critical for HR departments to be prepared for the consequences.  

Why are Employee Skills Gaps Getting Wider?

We’ve been on this path for a while. Once many economies became knowledge-based, the prospect of rapidly changing skill sets became a constant factor. And, as everyone has noticed, the rate of technological advances keeps increasing. As a result, workers need frequent upskilling efforts.

But even though HR departments invest in L&D programs, the pace of change just goes up and up. In fact, a World Economic Forum (WEF) survey showed how employers believe that 44% of worker skills will need to change in the next five years.

There are a great many factors causing this situation, but at its core, the main issue is that we need to adapt. Here are just some of the reasons why new skills are at a premium in today’s economy:

  • Rapidly advancing technology
  • AI tools like ChatGPT

You’re probably very aware of these trends, as are most HR professionals who are implementing L&D programs to counter them. Yet more jobs are being eliminated in this environment than are being created, with a projected loss of 14 million jobs over the next five years, according to the WEF.

What to Expect from the Expected

The high possibility of skill gaps appearing in your organization means that disruption will result. Following are some of the main challenges that you might experience if and when this occurs:

More Competition for Talent

The people who have either foreseen the need for a specific skill or just happen to have it, will benefit from increased demand for their abilities. You can expect such valuable workers to come at a high price. Moreover, headhunters will be on the prowl to grab your top talent, resulting in a frequent turnover of important skills.

Lower Morale and Engagement

The flipside of increased demand for certain workers is the reduced need for others. Until those particular skill gaps are closed, those who require training might feel not as valued. In addition, organizations that lack skills will find themselves to be uncompetitive, resulting in lost revenue and leading to layoffs. Combined, these issues will harm employee morale and cause lower engagement as workers start to worry about getting fired.

Quality and Productivity Issues

The combination of lost talent and the move of new people into new roles mean a delay in reaching normal levels of performance. It takes time for an employee to get accustomed to a new job. Until they learn the ropes, you can expect mistakes to be made.

Greater Training Expenditure

To close skill gaps, HR will need to organize constant L&D programs across all levels of the hierarchy and for a range of specialized skills. Along with that will come increased pressures on employees as they need to handle normal tasks and upgrade their abilities at the same time. In addition, due to the “poaching” mentioned above, it’s possible that you’ll spend lots on getting top workers up to par on certain skills, but that investment will walk out the door if they get a better offer.

Increased Outsourcing

Many companies that are very efficient in closing skill gaps still find that they are without a certain skill at times. In such cases, either temps or outsourced workers need to be hired. This leads to increased recruitment efforts, higher recruitment costs, and potential challenges in integrating external hires into the organizational culture.

In Case you’re not there Already

Resolving the challenge of constant skill gaps is a matter of survival. The good news is that doing so will mostly involve measures that many HR teams are already taking. For example:

  • Employee engagement initiatives that consider paid volunteering, flextime and work-from-home, mentorship programs, job rotation, and leadership opportunities
  • Access to expert pools that can help advise you about best practices, include you in useful professional associations and support recruiting efforts
  • Extensive and frequent skill gap analyses ensure that you at least understand what’s missing so that your organization can make wise choices about how they will use scarce skilled human resources.

Beat the Gap with Growthspace

You’ve heard about employee skill gaps, so you’ve completed a comprehensive skill gap analysis. The result has been a long list of specialized skills for employees ranging from entry-level workers to senior executives. Now what?

Growthspace technology stands behind many major corporations that are winning the war for talent. The Growthspace platform enables HR to connect with a global network of highly rated L&D experts who collectively have hundreds of specialties. Setting up a relationship happens quickly and rapidly through the platform’s intuitive interface. Growthspace is not just making it possible to close skill gaps – it’s even making it easy.  

Erin Biehl
Erin Biehl
Over the past 20 years, Erin Biehl has led teams in the education, hospitality, and technology sectors, excelling in customer success and as a Learning & Development manager. In her L&D role, she designed a leadership framework and developed a comprehensive L&D program for a global company from scratch. Certified as both a DISC and change management facilitator, Erin merges her professional expertise with her academic background, holding a degree in education. Beyond work, her enthusiasm for teaching shines through as a group fitness instructor, specializing in barre and dance classes. Also, a proud mom to her son and two lovable pups, Erin relishes her family life in the beautiful state of Maine

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