Two vector people holding a broken chain representing the skills gap

The missing link in your skills strategy: upskilling vs. recruiting

Understanding the current landscape and where the missing links are within your organisation is just step one in traversing the ever-widening skills gap.

But hopefully, you’re one of the lucky ones who’s read part one of this blog series. And if you are, you’ll be up to scratch on where your organisation could be falling short in keeping up with current and future skills demands. But the journey doesn’t end there. The next step is understanding how to bridge those gaps.

If you haven’t read part one, you can check that out along with our other fascinating learning insights here. But don’t wait, the skills gap certainly won’t!

So, if you’re ready to explore the missing link in your skills strategy, let’s get down to business.
No big surprise, there are two primary ways to address skill gaps and these are upskilling existing employees and/or recruitment.

Upskilling – A win-win?

Upskilling, we’ve all heard of it but it has a bit of a jargon-mystic to it, so what does it actually mean? Simply put, upskilling is giving your employees a chance to enhance their skills or learn new ones. Easy, right?!

employees at a desk with laptop and paper upskilling

Upskilling can also be economically beneficial for your organisation. In fact, studies have shown that upskilling is a third of the cost of recruiting – with the average cost of hiring a new employee $4,425 versus an average of just $1,300 to upskill an existing employee. But it also shows you value your workforce by investing in their capabilities and empowering their growth – it really is a win-win situation!

Finding focus

The gaps present within the general skills landscape will often be reflected within organisations, however the specific gaps in your workforce may not be immediately obvious. Therefore, doing a skills gap analysis can be essential to revealing areas to focus time, resource and budget.

The first step to conducting a skills gap analysis is by asking the question, “what skills do we value as a company?”. Thinking about your organisation’s job descriptions, business objectives, and values can help identify the skills your company might need in coming years. Surveying team members – managers and employees alike – on where they think skills are missing is also highly recommended. Employee insights are invaluable and their involvement increases ownership over their own development as well as contributing towards your organisation’s goals and growth.

person on a laptop upskilling in digital skills and coding

The training you provide – or are going to provide – can also be important in identifying development gaps within your workforce. By incorporating in-built diagnostics, you can ascertain unique insight into the particular needs of your employees on an individual basis but also across teams, job roles and functions within the business. Achieving this virtuous cycle is a whole separate discussion – but you can find out more here. Spoiler: data is key.

Thinking beyond the now

But don’t forget the future. As well as your current organisational needs, it’s key to consider what skills your organisation might require in the next ten years. This can be difficult to predict alone, so involve managers and others in the process who can provide insight into both organisational plans and industry trends.

Upskill or bust?

Over half of companies’ train and develop their staff to fill open vacancies and providing access to appropriate learning and development pathways can help you close the gap between current and required skill levels. But in addition to providing formal training in key areas, by developing an organisational learning culture – underpinned by a comprehensive digital learning infrastructure – you can achieve a workforce that is able to self-determine their own development, identify problem areas and work to find their own solution.

But however good your staff retention rate, upskilling alone is never going to be sufficient for a successful or growing organisation. So…

Recruitment – We need to talk about Gen Z

When it comes to recruitment, it’s crucial to understand that the workforce is changing. What is seen as desirable in an employer is radically different to what it was a decade ago. Move over millennials, the Zoomers are in town. Gen Z – who already make up 20% of the workforce – care deeply about issues like “cultural inclusivity, sustainability and a healthy work-life balance, [and] 70% of Gen Z employees want to work for a company whose values align with their own”.

magnifying glass with wooden blocks representing recruiting

In turn, organisational commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion will have a major impact on Gen Z’s decision-making process. It was found that, “77 per cent of Gen Z have indicated that a company’s level of diversity affects their decision to work there”.

Therefore, articulating your organisations commitment to providing professional development and DEI can help develop an internal culture that is appealing to new hires as well as nurturing existing employees.

Facilitate freedom

But they still want more: flexibility! Half of Gen Zers say that freedom and flexibility is their absolute top priority when on the job hunt, so remember to emphasise this throughout the hiring process and be open to remote working options. Due to the current pandemic, there are now many people whose only experience of working is remotely, so having options (be them hybrid or home) is essential.

The skills gap doesn’t sleep

All things considered, upskilling is or should be the first place you look fill the skills gap. It is usually more cost-effective, it can also increase your employee’s commitment and productivity as well as equipping you with a skilled, diverse, and motivated workforce. But if recruiting is part of your strategy – as it inevitably will be at some point – then either way, building a solid learning culture within your organisation is equally as important when it comes to sourcing and retaining the right talent in your workforce!

workplace meeting to discuss upskilling and learning

So, if you take away one piece of information it should be this, learning must be an ongoing, continuous process. But L&D does not have to do it all alone. Enlist managers and staff alike, facilitating learning across the entire organisation. When managers act as mentors, they create an environment where learning can happen daily. Ongoing guidance and feedback are essential to getting the most out of your employees. And weaving the values of consistent learning into your business strategy will ultimately see you growing, optimising, and retaining the finest talent.

Interested in learning more? Get in touch and we can explore how you can upskill your workforce to keep up with the skills of the future!