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Posted by Kristin Bernor, Head of External Relations

Having employees with the right skills has always been integral to business success. But what are ‘the right’ skills?

The pace of change within organizations makes this a complex question. Shifting objectives and the introduction of new technologies and techniques mean that skills requirements are constantly changing. So how can leaders keep up?

One way is to conduct regular skills gap analyses.

What is a skills gap analysis?   

A skills gap analysis explores the difference between the skills an employer needs and those currently held by its employees.  It can be conducted by an internal team – often led by the human resources (HR) department – or external consultants.  

In either scenario, success is contingent on two things:

  1. A solid understanding of business objectives.  Analysts must understand where the business is headed.  They can then work back from here to establish the roles and skills needed to progress towards this point.
  2. An accurate view of existing skills.  Asking employees to undertake a skills assessment can help analysts achieve this.

Once they have these two reference points, analysts can map the journey between them. 

A skills gap analysis in action

Consider an HR executive, for example.  They might have been hired based on their listening, collaboration and people management abilities.  However, advancements in HR technology and business investment in this area, might mean they now need digital and data analytics skills to really thrive in their role.

By assessing the executive’s data literacy, employers could quantify their current data skills and develop a personalized development plan to improve them. 

When to conduct a skills gap analysis

Skills gap analyses are often conducted at moments of business change. This could be following a merger or acquisition, significant regulatory shift. Or even a pandemic. These events can signal a change in business strategy, meaning that the organization or specific teams may not have the skills needed to deliver on their new remits.

The benefits of a skills gap analysis

  • Provides quantitative data on skills – structured assessments enable analysts to objectively quantify employees’ skills, eliminating the risk of conscious or unconscious biases clouding their impressions of these.
  • Aligns business and learning and development (L&D) strategies – armed with data on skills requirements, HR leaders can develop clear strategies to build these capabilities among their workforce.
  • Enables skills benchmarking – analysts can easily track how skillsets develop over time, enabling them to understand the effectiveness of L&D strategies and gauge return on investment in this area.
  • Supports organizational agility – if leaders understand the skills their workers have, they can redistribute talent throughout the organization in line with demand.
  • Improves employee recruitment and retention – according to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report, 94% of employees would stay at a company for longer if it invested in their careers.  A skills gap analysis enables employers to make this investment with confidence – and helps employees see how L&D can future-proof their careers.

Moving from reactive to proactive

As the pace of business change accelerates, we’re likely to see more employers undertake skills gap analyses proactively. Those that do will benefit from an ongoing, accurate understanding of the skills they have available to them, enabling them to respond to business changes quickly and with more certainty.

For a clearer understanding of the skills within the workforce request a demo of our assessment platform here: https://www.questionmark.com/request-a-demo/