Bridging the skills gap

Bridging the skills gap

The epidemic of absent skills is one of the most important issues affecting the labour market today. The skills lacking vary between regions and sectors, but the question facing employers and governments remains the same: How do we respond and close the gap?

Australia is a regional economic leader, and the issue of a skills shortfall is hugely important for us. The ability to overcome skills shortages and secure the top talent will be critical to business success.

A six-point strategy

The six points below are designed to highlight the main areas of focus needed for employers to attract and retain the most appropriate and best-skilled candidates.

1. Be flexible in order to adapt to the changing market. This includes considering existing employees, who are not only a rich source of information but who have also already demonstrated their commitment and ‘fit’ with the organisation. Other ‘flexible’ strategies include considering transferable skills and recruiting based on candidate potential. Such flexibility allows you to open a vacancy to a larger pool of candidates who have experience, suit the company, and can become a highly valued asset with a little technical training.

In addition, embracing flexible working options allows an organisation to not only retain critical skills but widens the pool of potential talent to include those that need flexibility to remain in the workforce.

2. Have a plan to identify the key roles and likely requirement patterns in your organisation. At the most basic level, this means examining where you are heading and comparing this to the skills - and the skill gaps - you currently have within your organisation. Recruitment planning, the development of a succinct process, a tailored offer, the effective use of temporary assignments and mobile technology should also be part of the planning process.

3. Create an employment brand to attract like-minded candidates aligned to your values. If in doubt of this strategy, consider BRW’s Great Place to Work list; organisations on this list have strong employment brands, and despite widespread skills shortages they receive unsolicited applications from people who want to work for them.

4. Source far and wide and include the under-utilised talent pools of overseas skills, all diversity groups and former employees. In addition to these under-utilised talent pools, new technology is also a factor in a comprehensive search.

5. Training and development involves open communication with staff and up-skilling existing employees to build a more talented workforce capable of handling the required workflow. But remember, training doesn’t always have to be in the classroom.

6. Focus on retention and start with the benchmarking of great performers, then recruit to these criteria. A retention plan also includes training people well, performance management, career development, succession planning and engagement. Also critical is assessing managers; people join companies and leave people.

Adopting one or two of these points in isolation is not enough to overcome the severity of the skills shortage. We suggest that these six points should be combined and used in parallel to forge a robust and effective strategy. By sharing our six point plan we hope to offer innovative solutions to help our clients bridge the skills gap in today’s highly competitive talent race.


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