What is a Skills Gap?


Skills gap is the mismatch between the skills present in the organization and the skills needed to move forward.

The definition of a skills gap is the missing skills in individuals, teams or a company as a whole. It occurs when the skills present in your company or organization fail to match the skills needed to move forward and remain competitive. This can be due to changes in the company’s products and services and how they are delivered, or as a result of wider workplace developments and the need for the company to evolve. Identifying skills gaps is a vital first step a company should make toward an upskilling programme. Embarking on an upskilling effort without an initial skills gap analysis would be a certain recipe for disaster.

Skills gap analysis

Skills gap analysis is a process or tool that can assess which skills are present, and which are lacking. This in turn informs a company’s overall training and development strategy. The acquisition of urgent skills can then be prioritized via targeted training, or when cost appropriate, a recruitment campaign. At an individual level, the analysis will likely be carried out by the team leader and will usually be prompted by a change in the scope of roles in the team, the requirement for new skills to gain promotion or manage a new project or due to a poor capability review.

Common skill gaps in organizations

At workforce level, the skills gap analysis will be carried out by team leaders with support from HR. The specific skills that are highlighted as needing to be improved in a workforce are usually linked to business goals. Many are technical skills, in response to further developments in technology and digitization of products and services. However, it is important that companies also analyze the soft skills within their workforce. Poor management, communication and problem solving will remain an issue that blocks optimal performance even if the requisite hard skills are brought into the workforce. It’s best for every skills development strategy to look for a healthy balance of hard and soft skills in every employee.

Closing skills gaps

One of the best ways to start building skills gap tools for your company is to start with a taxonomy of skills that encompasses the full range of hard and soft skills your company needs. Once this is agreed, you can start matching the skill gaps to new learning content. Increasingly, companies are using AI, or Artificial Intelligence, to carry out skill gap analysis as this provides results that are directly personalized to the individual. To succeed, it’s imperative that tools are able to suggest relevant and appropriate training and development content for every individual, to ensure engagement is balanced and active throughout every level in your company.

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