People often refer to the skills gap as the difference in the skills required to carry out a role successfully in an organisation in comparison to the actual skills possessed by the employees. In recent surveys in the US and Europe over 60% of leaders in industry believe there actually is a skills gap and that as a result believe businesses are missing out on growth opportunities. This seems to be particularly acute in R&D.
How has this happened? There are many theories that abound, but it seems to boil down to the combination of the retirement of baby boomers on relatively generous pensions, which is coming at a time when the economy has slowed. In addition manufacturing industry has shrunk in comparison to the services industry, and is generally perceived to be less attractive.
This effect has been enhanced by staff not adjusting to the skills demand by up skilling and at the same time firms are slow to adjust to changes in the skill supply. An additional factor is the salaries offered which do not reflect the skill shortages, and so people are not attracted to fill these vital roles.
Adding to the complexity is finding workers with the skills required to meet today’s advanced manufacturing requirements. In this respect UK school leavers were seen as the worst in Europe for essential skills (CIMA report), and the CBI has recently reported that the lack of high quality apprentices is exacerbating numeracy and literacy problems amongst the entrance cohort to the industry.
So what can you do about this? Firstly make sure that you are on market for salaries and benefits for the key people in your firm; in other words fix the leaky bucket. Secondly carry out an assessment of the skills that you have in your organisation and identify where you have gaps. This can be done by a simple matrix of skills required versus those existing in your current staff. Then you need to invest in training to fill these gaps – technical but equally importantly personal skills training. Countries like India and China are really good at this and invest heavily in addressing the skills gap through training and education initiatives.
More strategically you also need to consider who those people are who have the potential to be future leaders and start to prepare them early through on the job opportunities, but also coaching and personal development.
If these people do not exist within your organisation then you are well prepared to go to the market with a specialist recruitment firm with very well defined skills requirements. Chemical Search are well placed to assist with people assessment, coaching & development and strategic recruitment. A true one stop shop to support you with filling your skills gap.