How to Close the Skills Gap With Targeted Training Programs

by Gauri Reyes on May 15, 2015 8:00:00 AM

How to Close the Skills Gap With Targeted Training ProgramsAccording to Mindflash's national Millennial Mindset Study, Gen Y says the “lack of company support for training and development” is the number one most surprising aspect of work in the “real world.” Only 20% of employed millennials say that their employers adequately provide the training opportunities required for necessary job skills. Considering that the millennial generation is the newest and fastest growing group in the workforce, these stats are alarming.

At the same time, unemployment remains high while organizations cite an inability to find enough candidates with the right skills to fill open positions. This paradox is commonly called the “skills gap.”

The blame for the skills gap likely rests on many heads. But why wait for the educational system or anyone else to provide solutions? Employers can help narrow the skills gap by employing the strategy “hire for attitude, train for skill.” Organizations need to take calculated risks with candidates who may not yet have the “right” skills but are trainable. Employee training programs targeted on building critical skills can increase employee productivity, performance, and happiness.

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Convert All Employees Into “Experienced” Hires via Performance Support

On average, learners forget 70% of the content from formal training within 24-48 hours. Performance support extends formal LMS training to the job site at the time of need. It’s practical on-the-job training that complements classroom learning. And it effectively turns all your employees into “experienced professionals.”

To implement a performance support system, create on-the-job training that is:

1. Organized at the task level: Provides steps and clear guidance for completing a task

2. Accessible at the point of need: Job aids (videos, audio, documents) and other online training that can be accessed at the desk or at the job site (via mobile device, if required)

3. Creates an on-the-job decision-support system: Provides access to a mentor or SME (perhaps via social media or videoconferencing) to support effective decision making

Promote Competency-Based Training

Competency-based training builds workplace competencies in individuals based on pre-identified profiles of job success. It gives people credit for what they already know and can do.

To design effective competency-based training programs:

1. Work with HR and hiring managers to determine the skill set that defines success for each role, and how to measure success.

2. Allow learners to “test out of” skills in which they are already competent.

3. Allow for self-paced learning. Let learners learn on their own terms — anytime, anywhere, on any device — as long as they learn and can prove competency.

Ping People, Start Conversations, and Focus on Improvements

Before you can address a skills gap, you must identify it. That is, identify both the skills needed (in a job, in a department, in an organization) and the gap itself (its size and nature). To inventory skills and gaps, consider using: assessments, job descriptions, performance appraisal metrics, competitive analysis, and industry reports, among other tools.

Whatever tools you use, don’t neglect the voice of your people. Using technology like TINYPulse, you can ask your employees what skills they think are valuable, what gaps they notice, and how they think the gaps can be addressed. Listen to their ideas. Use the data that your surveys give you. Keep your fingers on the pulse of the organization, and you’ll gain valuable information that may help you to narrow the skills gaps, improve productivity, and increase your bottom line.



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This post was written by Gauri Reyes

Gauri Reyes is a talent developer and learning leader with extensive experience in roles ranging from software management to managing the learning function in organizations. She is Principal Learning Strategist and CEO at Triple Point Advisors and Founder of the YOUth LEAD program.

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