Sponsored by Learnsoft
The Skills Gap is Growing. So is Pressure on L&D
Demand for skilled employees seems limitless. Modern technology and automation are displacing workers in all industries, even while creating new jobs that need to be filled. Baby Boomers are rapidly retiring, but entry-level people from younger generations haven’t yet developed enough expertise to take on these positions. And competition for skilled professionals in technology, healthcare and other specialties remains fierce.
Throughout the pandemic, HR departments felt pressure to deliver a high-performing workforce. Unfortunately, that pressure isn’t likely to ease any time soon. In fact, by 2030, talent shortages in the U.S. alone are expected to result in $162 billion in unrealized revenue.
If these trends give you heart palpitations, I apologize. But the good news is that these pressures are causing employers to look within their organizations to bridge this skills gap. As a result, we’re seeing increased investment in upskilling and reskilling of current employees. Even so, L&D programs are not as efficient as HR and business leaders want them to be.
In part, this is because organizations are not leveraging available learning tools and resources to their full capacity. If you see this happening in your organization, how can you improve?
Let’s take a closer look at the primary types of skills gaps and how organizations are responding. Then, I’ll explain how a learning management system (LMS) can go beyond simply delivering training content to help your business address critical skills challenges.
3 Kinds of Skills Gaps: What Are They?
“Skills gap” is generally used as a catch-all phrase for whatever is amiss in the employee/employer productivity relationship. But actually, there are three gaps to consider:
1. Skill Gap
Unlike the broader term, this specifically refers to intellectual or functional gaps in a person’s ability to perform a particular job effectively. For example, in healthcare this can be demonstrated by a lack of certification required to provide patient care. Or in construction, skilled laborers may need to develop proficiency with new equipment before they can use it at a job site. This differs from a knowledge gap.
2. Knowledge Gap
When employees do not know relevant information about their job or how their role fits into their department or organization, this is a knowledge gap. It can surface during onboarding – but can persist throughout an employee’s tenure. This is why hiring managers need to understand a new employee’s industry and job-specific knowledge, and then provide resources to bring that individual up-to-par as soon as possible.
3. Performance Gap
To perform well in a role, skills and knowledge are essential. However, motivation and commitment are just as important. This brings us to the performance gap – which is the disparity between an organization’s goals and an individual’s performance. This can be measured by a lack of engagement, low productivity levels, poor quality output, and other relevant metrics. These gaps can be especially detrimental, because they tend to expand over time when organizations lack tools to accurately measure key performance factors.
How Employers Are Addressing Skill Gaps
The most efficient way to accurately measure skills in an organization is with an appropriate skills management tool. For example, almost all large companies (98%, according to Training Magazine), use an LMS to manage and deliver e-learning courses and training programs.
The most-used function of an LMS is the ability to track training completions and course certifications within the learning platform. This solves some of the basic skills problems organizations face. However, the missing piece in many LMS platforms is a comprehensive and intuitive reporting capability.
For years, organizations in many industries tracked individual skills and knowledge through manual processes. In some industries, this is still managed manually.
That’s right. In 2023, organizations continue to struggle with automating and streamlining data management and reporting. Even when training is conducted online through an e-learning platform, the data is not easily transferred between applications.
I’ve worked with organizations where employees complete training online or in-person, and then a data entry specialist spends time manually extracting the completion data and copying it into an excel file. Next, they manually import the information into another HR application. This process is time consuming, inefficient and leaves room for error. But fortunately, there are better ways to manage this data-intensive business process.
An LMS Can Do More Than Deliver Content
1. Leverage Integrations
To truly maximize the benefits of an LMS, you need to integrate it with other enterprise applications and tools. By integrating your LMS with your HR ecosystem, you can streamline and automate your training processes, reduce administrative burdens, and enhance the user experience.
Your organization can track and manage L&D goals across the entire company using a single login system that connects an end user to any application within the LMS system. Users don’t need multiple logins to access the intranet, the compliance training portal, benefits and payroll, professional development courses, and so on. Instead, they’re all housed in one system – and those systems talk to each other so they can verify transferred data.
Here’s the benefit from a skills gap perspective: Because these applications work together within the HR ecosystem, you can easily identify employee reskilling and upskilling needs.
2. Support Employee Career Advancement
Understanding employee competency is essential to optimize the talent available in your workforce. This is why an LMS platform’s reporting function is just as important as its content delivery function. Job turnover is bound to happen, but how can an LMS help you more rapidly fill unexpected job openings?
L&D can quickly turn to a comprehensive reporting dashboard that identifies team members who are compliant and certified to fill a role. Intuitive reporting can make it easy to identify these qualified employees, regardless of their team or location. You can also leverage reporting to pinpoint existing skill deficits and make data-driven employee development decisions.
3. Establish Clear Paths to Success
The most important step in closing any skills gap is offering individuals opportunities to upskill through learning experiences and resources that expand their professional knowledge. Research indicates that employees agree. In fact, according to SHRM, 76% of employees are more inclined to stay at a company where continuous learning is available.
This is the strong suit of a modern LMS. It can help L&D teams work with managers to define skills benchmarks, build assessments that identify skills gaps, and determine how development can close those gaps.
You can outline specific courses employees must complete to move up in rank. Then you can communicate about these career growth opportunities and the path forward.
4. Meet Employees on Their Learning Terms
The keyword here is learning. There are many ways to distribute information. But you need to ensure that employees don’t just “acknowledge” that information. The goal is to absorb it, understand it and retain it.
A lack of learning engagement doesn’t benefit employees, and it can even put your organization at risk. For example, Corporate Compliance Insights found that 49% of survey respondents skipped or did not thoroughly listen to mandated compliance training. Imagine almost half of your workforce admitting they don’t pay attention to required learning! Sadly, this is a reality.
How can you avoid passive learning and drive engagement? Whatever content you create, it’s important to bring training directly to individuals and make sure the experience is as accessible, useful and relevant as possible.
Be sure people have access to personalized training that best suits their needs. In some scenarios, this means face-to-face virtual training. In others, it means microlearning modules people can knock-out in 5 or 10 minutes.
Engaged learners make empowered workers. It is important to remember that people are lifelong learners. Employees need to train, retain, and show competency in their roles. This doesn’t stop when they clock-in for work. A flexible LMS can help employees train at workstation or remotely on a laptop or phone. And it should support personalized learning paths that help tailor learning to individual interests and goals.
Your Organization Has Changed. Has Your LMS?
Addressing the skills gap means prioritizing your employees by making learning accessible, personalized and engaging. Most LMS providers require organizations to enter a multi-year contract – some up to 10 years. That’s a long time to use a platform if it doesn’t meet all your needs.
Is your LMS keeping pace with the needs of your workforce or your business? Consider these criteria of an effective LMS platform:
- SaaS-based solution with flexibility to address diverse, changing needs
- Integrates seamlessly with your HR ecosystem
- A user experience that is easy for learners, instructors and administrators
- Functionality that accommodates individual learning schedules and needs
- Supports various content types to drive learning engagement
- Streamlines upskilling/reskilling/cross-training efforts
- Enables self-directed learning paths with recommendations based on job position, requirements, skills, competencies, and performance.