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Bridging skills gap and investing in human capital

This particular downturn has some unique characteristics, most notably a continuing tight labour market. As a result, staff recruitment and retention is a major challenge for organisations all over the world.

Whether you work in for-profit or in nonprofit like me, it is likely your organisation is having to take measures to address the current economic downturn. That means making difficult decisions that pave the way to long-term business success. As economic uncertainties abound and costs go up, you may feel the stress of budget cuts and calls to restrict hiring practices.

This particular downturn has some unique characteristics, most notably a continuing tight labour market. As a result, staff recruitment and retention is a major challenge for organisations all over the world. As a result of this, you should bolster your commitment to helping your people grow. They need to know that your company values them and supports them with their career progression.

Make no mistake, all firms are struggling to find the people they need, and are dedicating significant resources to the problem. In December 2022, AICPA & CIMA commissioned Opinium to ask 1,001 decision-makers working for UK small to medium-sized enterprises and found the following:

  • Four in five SME employers identified skills gaps in their organisation over the past 12 months
  • More than half of SME employers prefer to develop talent in-house
  • 78% have invested in training and professional development for their employees beyond mandatory training since January 2022.

Investing in your people takes time and money. However, upskilling existing talent is business case positive and is less expensive than hiring it in from outside.

Consider the following steps as you prepare a plan to address your company’s learning needs:

  • Start at a high level. Your C-level leaders have a vision for the organisation, and you need to understand how that impacts the workforce. Your employees may be asked to do new jobs or follow different processes. Depending on their skillsets, they may wonder where they fit in. Have conversations with company leaders to determine business priorities and how developing skills can help bridge the gap between where the business is and where it could go.
  • Consider employees’ personal goals and needs. Confer with your teams and evaluate their skills gaps and goals. Some may need help determining the most beneficial training for their role. You may have others who are hoping to earn specific credentials. Think about how you can improve their employability and productivity via new credentials, certificates and badges. Also consider how to communicate new training opportunities to staff. This communication must be clear and enable staff members to better understand how they help the firm meet its strategic goals.
  • Do your research and build relationships with educators. Once you’ve determined your company’s needs and budget, start looking for a vendor who can help. Ask what they recommend for your employees. Examine at their reputation, track record and presentation style. Ask them about group discounts and special programs that best fit your company’s needs. Look for one-offs too. For instance, my company works with a panel of coursework developers, including in-house developers, to create a range of resources that fit a wide array of professionals.

It takes time and diligence to cultivate and sustain strong teams, especially with the increase of remote working in the past two to three years. Professional development and raising skill levels can help address the challenges of flexible and hybrid work environments by demonstrating your commitment to staff members. When you invest in your people, your business will not only adapt to disruption. It will thrive.

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