Imagine the process of building your own house. You have a vision of what you’d like the final house to look like, right down to paint colors and room design. As you stare down at the hammer in your hand, you realize there is one major problem: the vision in your head doesn’t match your abilities (and you’re not quite sure why you're holding the hammer). You have what is referred to as a skills gap, and it’s a major roadblock to realizing your dream house. This issue isn’t confined to DIY projects, either. When it comes to business, how do you know…what you don’t know? You need a skills gap analysis.
What you’ll find in this post 👉
What is a skills gap analysis?
When employers are looking for skills that employees don’t have, there’s a skills gap. With technology and automation advancing quickly, some businesses are stopped short by a lack of knowledge among their otherwise dedicated and impressive employees.
In fact, a 2020 report from the World Economic Forum estimated that most employees will need a significant period of reskilling by 2024 in order to keep up with the pace of change in their business. Fortunately, a skills gap analysis is one way to identify and make a plan to remediate this and build expertise.
So, what is a skills gap analysis? It’s the process of identifying any gaps in knowledge or skills among current employees. Done correctly, a skills gap analysis also indicates if these gaps can be addressed with current employees or if structural changes, training, or new hires need to be made.
Benefits of conducting a skills gap analysis
Simply put, if you don’t know what you’re missing, there’s a chance you’re missing out. A skills gap analysis can:
- Ensure that a company’s priorities are achievable
- Identify areas that need upskilling
- Provide a focus for new hires
- Structure employee development
- Help companies maintain a growth mindset
Rather than placing blame for poor performance or randomly hiring employees to meet an ill-defined need, a skills gap analysis looks for growing edges among staff to see who has space to step up to the plate.
Other benefits of a skills gap analysis?
- It guides your strategic workforce planning
- It makes your company more attractive to prospective employees, as you’ll have created defined roadmaps for growth
- With targeted individual learning and development, your company can experience a competitive advantage over businesses that do not know where their weaknesses are
How to conduct a skills gap analysis
Get your company’s training and compliance leaders in the same room. This is how to conduct a skills gap analysis.
⛏️ Dig deeper: A training needs analysis is similar, but often more involved, than analyzing skills. Learn more about running a full training needs analysis here!
1. Check in with the C-suite
Your conversation needs to extend to the C-suite, too. You'll need executive buy-in so that the proper resources (i.e., time, money, and personnel) are made available. Outline all the benefits of a skills gap analysis, highlighting all of the ways it’s worth the time and money. They can also provide insights into longer-term strategic shifts and priorities.
At this stage, you’ll also want to identify who will be responsible for conducting the skills gap analysis and to secure both time and compensation for that person.
2. Determine if you are analyzing at the individual or group level
An individual skills gap analysis looks at single employees to see if they need specific training or skill development. Individual skills gap analyses might be needed if new duties are added to a role or if a specific employee is struggling to meet performance goals.
However, if your business is falling behind the marketplace (or your goals have changed), you might perform a group skills gap analysis. This looks at the entire organization with an eye to making changes at the macro level.
Some of these changes might include:
- Implementing new technology or automation to fill the gap rather than adding personnel
- Making structural changes to the organization
- Training the entire workforce on a set of missing skills
- Hiring to fill specific positions
3. Identify needed skills
Look at job descriptions, company priorities, and future planning to identify the skills needed to meet the various roles and goals of your organization.
You can ask yourself:
- What new skills are necessary for employees to do their jobs right now?
- What skills might be needed in the future?
It can, of course, be challenging to predict what your company might be in the future. However, if you are planning on expanding your company in five years, one of your necessary skills might be to focus on developing leaders among current employees.
👉 Discover more: Find a full list of the most in-demand hard and soft skills for employees!
4. Take stock
This step can be challenging. Many employees struggle with the idea of assessments, worried that they are tied to compensation or promotions.
To make this more effective and less traumatic, take pains to separate this portion of the skills gap analysis from any punishment or reward. You’re really just trying to gauge what employees already know. Share it openly and lead with context on why the analysis is important for them and the company.
To evaluate current skills, you can:
- Use previous performance reviews
- Ask employees to complete questionnaires on interests and skills
- Add surveys or skills tests
- Conduct observations
In some cases, this might also uncover untapped talent or potential in your current employees. Make sure to share this with them as a potential benefit of this analysis!
5. Make a training plan
Once you have identified the necessary skills in service to your company goals and objectives, you’ll need to figure out how to build them.
A simple course of microlearning added to a regular workday in support of skill-building might be all you need. However, some skills might require a full long-term training program. Watch the following video to learn about the different types of employee training that could help you meet your needs.
6. Implement your plan
One of the major obstacles to implementing any kind of employee learning and development is time. If your employees already feel overworked and underpaid, asking them to attend training after hours without giving time off during the day or providing a stipend for doing so is too much.
Budget time and money so employees feel supported in their learning (not burdened by it), and make it an exciting area where they’ll be able to develop new skills.
7. Check in with employees
One of the most important parts of knowing how to conduct a skills gap analysis is taking the time to assess if your implemented plan is actually addressing the issues you identified.
In some cases, you may find you didn’t actually correctly identify what you needed. In others, maybe your learning and development are not up to par. Either way, check in regularly to see what’s working…and what needs work.
Even the best-laid professional development plans can go awry. You may have missed something that was subtle and need to make changes. Be on the lookout for:
- Employees who need different (or more) upskilling
- Employees who didn’t know what they already knew (and can skip ahead)
- Training that does not quite meet your needs
- Training that isn’t getting the participation (and results) you hoped for
It’s easier to make changes early in the process, so provide time for reflection, and ask for employee feedback, too.
Don’t build the house alone
When it’s time to pour the foundation or raise the walls, your business doesn’t have to build it alone. EdgePoint Learning has the tools, know-how, and resources you need to help you create and implement a successful skills gap analysis.
With co-development, consulting, or full development services that suit your specific needs, we’ve got you covered. Get in touch today.