3 Ways to bridge the skills gap

31st January 2022
3 Ways to bridge the skills gap

We’re living through an interesting part of history. Advancements in technology are rapidly changing our lives and the way we work. We’re more connected than ever before, allowing us to stay in touch and perform our duties from just about anywhere in the world. Yet this rate of change and development means that employers need new and evolving skill sets. As such, the ‘skills gap’, whilst nothing new, is getting larger and larger.

Almost half of Yorkshire and Humberside businesses found recruitment difficult, an increase on the 2020 figures which had been shortening. COVID restrictions and its uncertainty, plus inflated salaries have all had a big role to play.

There is some debate on the severity and scope of this skills gap, yet it has the potential to cause some real issues. We explore what exactly it is, what it means to your business and strategies to help bridge those urgent talent shortages.

 

What is a Skills Gap?

Before diving into the ‘how to’, let’s go back to the basics and explore a skills gap in more detail. A skills gap illustrates the difference between skills that your business needs and the skills that your workforce currently possess.

It is a simple formula that determines the variances between the existing and desired skills levels in your organisation, team or individual employee:

Skills needed – Skills possessed = Skills gap

 

How can a Skills Gap impact my business?

For businesses of all sizes, the skills gap is problematic.

In a small business, every worker counts, and companies with open positions (whether they’re looking to expand or had someone leave recently) take a bigger hit to their ability to function than larger ones.

As time goes by, this becomes a larger and larger problem. Some 57% say the skills shortage significantly affects their growth potential. If companies can’t find the right employees to do critical task (which are again more important within small companies), they can’t grow. This a powerful motivator to close the skills gap.

 

It’s the toughest it’s ever been for businesses hiring staff. The Open University Business Barometer reports that 40% of businesses increased salaries to make roles more attractive, roles are taking longer to fill, while 30% spent more than intended on recruitment fees. For 42% this was due to employers struggling to find the right skills.

This lack of skill also has several impacts on businesses. It can cause:

  • A loss of productivity
  • A higher rate of staff turnover
  • Lower levels of morale
  • Lower-quality work
  • An inability to expand the business
  • A loss of revenue
University of Hull, Kingston Upon Hull, East Yorkshire, United Kingdom, 22 January, 2020. Pictured: James Gordon
Computer Science student testimonial, James Gordon, BSc Computer Science

 

So, if you’re a small business, what do you do?

Industry experts McKinsey found in a recent global survey that 87% of organisations said they’re either experiencing a skills gap now or expect to experience one in the next few years. But what can companies do to address the problem? Thankfully, there are several proven steps that companies can take:

1. A skills gap analysis

The first step of the process is to highlight where there are problem areas or the potential for them to emerge. Companies need to examine the essential skills they need or want and compare them to what their workforce currently has. This type of analysis can provide HR teams with valuable insight, allowing them to take further action.

2. Hire fresh talent

With a full analysis in place, companies can start to hire people with the right kinds of skills. Rather than employing for roles with a narrow scope, they can focus on the areas they currently have weaknesses in, improving the overall skill pool.

Recruitment for specialist skills though, is expensive, and that is where harnessing potential becomes vital. It is evident that SMEs are turning to more innovative solutions such as recruiting into training, internships and other internal mentoring programs to address the deficit.

The Humber Internship Programme (HIP) is a unique programme that provides small and medium sized businesses the opportunity to access a wide range of specialists that are at the beginning of their career to apply the latest skills and knowledge within a business for a 12 week period of time.

Recent reports show that engineers, scientist, software developers, IT professionals, business analysts, graphic designers are just some of the jobs that are in high demand. The Humber Internship Programme can offer access to all of these skills and more.

Pauline Mitchell, Programme Manager for HIP explains that “by harnessing the potential in graduates and students, businesses can remain agile and competitive throughout a rapidly changing business environment.”

Internships offer an innovative way for businesses to access specialist skills via fresh, new talent. With them comes the latest knowledge in their field and an eagerness to apply their skills to start building a successful career. And, did we mention that HIP’s internships are part-funded? Businesses receive a 40% subsidy towards their intern’s wage.

An internship will give your business the unique opportunity to identify hot, new talent before anyone else does. Meaning that if your intern is a great fit for your business then you could choose to make the position permanent for a graduate, or the following year for a current student.

Another way to access specialist knowledge that you don’t have in-house is via a Knowledge Exchange Partnership (KTP). Funding is readily available to help pay for a graduate with the skills needed in business projects that last from 12-36 months.

3. Skill building

Reskilling and upskilling programs help existing employees train in the skills where the organisation is lacking. This type of knowledge building helps both the company and the individual.

The University of Hull work closely with public, private and third sector organisations to nurture talent by delivering bespoke and specialist training. From MBAs to a specialist part-time courses and training, there are many options available to help upskill your workforce

 

So find the skills your business needs this summer, speak to The Humber Internship Programme today.

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