The skills gap may feel like it’s widening; but the solution may be nearer than you think.

BridgingtheSkillsGap

In countries around the world, a number of industries are experiencing a problematic situation: Potential business growth — coupled with a frustrating lack of skilled candidates to fill crucial positions. 

It’s not a new scenario; nor is it an isolated oneA 2011 article published in the Journal of Globalization, Competitiveness, and Governability, edited by Georgetown University and Universia, warned that 20 percent of firms in Latin America and the Caribbean felt they were facing a major to very severe skills gap. 

Canada currently needs more job applicants who have completed apprentice, polytechnic and technical programs, according to the Association of Universities and Colleges of CanadaAnd more than half of U.K. firms feel recent university graduates aren’t ready for employment, according to a recent British Chambers of Commerce survey. 

The Growing Inexperience Issue 

A lack of work experience, in general, factored significantly into U.K. companies’ opinion — which is a double-edged sword for jobseekers. How can younger workers obtain experience if they aren’t viewed as a strong hiring choice?

The answer may lie in companies, industry innovators and government agencies providing additional, innovative traininto try and close the skills gap as quickly as possible.  

France, for example — much like Australia, China, India, Europe and the Americas — is experiencing  a shortage of skilled information and communications technology industry professionals, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. French businesses, despite high youth unemployment levels, are currently struggling to locate enough programmer candidates. 

To help boost workers’ skill levels, entrepreneur Xavier Niel has launched a computer tech school in Paris, which selects applicants through screening tests, instead of the traditional academic record-based method. (The Sydney Morning Herald calls the program a “boot camp for techies.”) 

Programs like Niel’s school stand to help correct some of the skill deficits many countries are experiencing, which may be the result of a lack of training opportunities. Consider the U.K.: The amount spent on training has fallen by £2.5 billion since 2011, according to 2013 U.K. Commission for Employment and Skills survey — which also found companies say almost three in 10 vacancies are hard-to-fill.  

The reason? Shortages in appropriately skilled, qualified and/or experienced workers.  

Ongoing Initiatives  

Some private sector companies are also creating programs to try to close the skills gap. JPMorgan Chase, for example, launched New Skills at Work, a five-year, $250 million job preparation program, in 2013 to help train workers for openings in fields that are struggling to find qualified candidates. 

The financial services provider is also working on a research project in four European countries and nine U.S. cities to identify data that can indicates how to close the gaps between employers-in-need and jobseekers. Initial findings have indicated, according to an article JPMorgan Chase Head of Workforce Initiatives Chauncy Lennon wrote for U.S. News & World Report, that although employers are looking for employees with experience and specific skills, they’re offering fewer on-site training opportunities than before.  

Lennon acknowledged that may mean the responsibility for finding training opportunities has essentially shifted to job seekers; and many workers may, in the coming years, take advantage of initiatives like New Skills at Work, or seek out formal education programs at community colleges and universities. 

However, that system clearly isn’t closing the skills gap very quickly — particularly not for organizations with a strong need for qualified candidates right now. 

Shut Down Your Organization’s Skills Gap 

If your organization is having a hard time finding skilled candidates, the answer may lie within.  

Consider offering — or offering to pay for — intense training courses that would teach current employees new skills in a relatively short time period.  

That way, your organization won’t have to function without important human capital assets for very long; in addition, strengthening your internal resources can have an overwhelmingly positive effect on morale. Forty-five percent of workers who planned to leave their job last year blamed their exit on an inability to advance in the company, according to CareerBuilder 

Creating new roles, or new aspects to current ones, can also save you a considerable amount of money. You’ll bypass a potentially lengthy and expensive candidate search; and, by appointing an employee you know is reliable, you remove the risk of bringing a bad fit on board.

The cost of hiring an ill-fitting employee can be significant: as much as 150 percent of the person’s first year of compensation, according to the International Business Times 

Find out why — and how you can avoid making the wrong hiring choice — in our recent “Why You Should Be More Worried About Bad Hires blog post.