Five years after the end of the Great Recession, though the economy is rising to pre-recession health and more jobs are being added daily, we’re seeing a unique and alarming trend emerging in the job market: Employers are having trouble finding qualified people to fill their open positions.
Many factors have contributed to this skills gap. According to our research, one of the largest components is rooted in a scarcity of training opportunities for employees and candidates. Forty-nine percent of employers say job-specific skills are difficult to find in an employee, but only 24 percent believe the lack of on-the-job training opportunities contributes to the skills gap. This reveals an incredible disconnect between job seekers and employers, as 60 percent of applicants believe skills will be learned on the job.
In recent years, a culture of fear has arisen around employee training. Employers worry that giving employees new skill sets will make them more likely to leave for a better opportunity. They also overlook opportunities to cross-train and re-skill their current workforce. Additionally, many employers do not take advantage of job seekers’ eagerness to learn new skills.
This is the second post in a multi-part series on The Hiring Site focused on the effects of the skills gap and what you can do to help bridge the divide. To see the entire study, view additional resources or download our comprehensive report, The Shocking Truth About the Skills Gap, visit www.careerbuilder.com/skillsgapstudy.
Let’s take a look at some of these issues, and explore some of the great benefits of training your team:
1) Training Increases Loyalty.
The logic behind many employers’ fears of employee training is understandable on some level. With talent already hard to find, you do not want to invest in an employee only to have her move on to another employer. Understandable, yes — but also negative. As it turns out, these fears are largely unfounded. Our survey shows an overwhelming 92 percent of employees are more loyal to employers who have invested in their skills by training them.
What can you do? Instead of worrying about creating a flight risk, you should consider that, by investing in employees, you are creating a team that feels valued. Instead of working for you, employees will feel they are working with you because you have enough confidence to help them grow professionally. This is a vastly different mentality, and the great majority of employees will be more loyal to a company who invests in them.
2) Cross-Training Employees Creates a More Flexible Workforce.
When confronted with the difficulties of finding a qualified candidate for a job, only 31 percent of employers report they would consider cross-training current employees. Resistance to cross-training not only creates inherent vulnerabilities within the framework of your team, but also leaves you vulnerable to the skills gap. If an employee leaves, you can look forward to the long, sometimes arduous process of finding new talent to fill the open job. In the meantime, who will complete those tasks? Management? Another employee who knows little about the requirements of the job? No matter how you approach the problem, you will end up sacrificing time and productivity and end up creating a stressful professional environment.
What can you do? Cross-training and re-skilling current employees creates agility in the workplace. When employees quit or retire — or even when someone cannot make it to work for personal reasons — having employees who are able to take over some of their responsibilities will help you stay productive.
Cross-training is also a potential cost-saver for your company. It creates a flexible environment in which you can promote from within your team. Instead of searching for new talent, you can move an already skilled — though perhaps less senior — employee into the open job and enjoy a seamless transition. This will leave you with jobs closer to entry-level, which are much easier to fill with new talent.
3) New Employees are Eager to Learn.
Many employers are hesitant to consider candidates whose skills do not perfectly align with those listed in the job description. This reluctance to exercise a bit of creativity to find a unique candidate results in a lot of missed opportunities in the form of new talent.
What can you do? Among survey respondents, nearly 50 percent of job seekers are interested in learning new skills, even if those skills lead them in a different professional direction. As an employer, you should use the intensity of this interest to your advantage. Applicants who display this degree of flexibility are likely to blend well with the needs of your company. When you look at an applicant’s resume, do not look at the skills they lack. Rather, look at the qualities they have. Be creative with this information to see a candidate’s potential.
Does your open job require a high degree of organizational skills? Do you need someone with the ability to quickly analyze data, or who has excellent interpersonal skills? Examine each applicant for the qualities you need and ask yourself how you might mold them into the perfect person for the job. Existing employees may be able to train a new hire, or you might consider offering a new hire enrollment in professional certification programs, continuing education, or online classes to quickly give them the skills you require.
The skills gap is undoubtedly a problem for which there are many roots. But it is not a problem you can’t overcome with a little dedication. If you want to see your company soar in the face of the skills gap, you need to face your concerns and adopt a positive attitude toward employee training. Recognize that investing in your team through employee training fosters loyalty and commitment to your company, likely attracting top talent from all corners of the market.
By instituting employee training as a business practice, you will give yourself a powerful tool to navigate — and help overcome — the skills gap.
What are your thoughts? How do you approach employee training? For more information on this pressing issue, download the full whitepaper.