How to fix and prevent gaps in training and development

Learn how to turn skills shortages into a thing of the past

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By Nicole Schreiber-Shearer, Future of Work Specialist at Gloat

In the midst of ongoing economic turbulence and rising inflation, business leaders are struggling to acquire the skills their workforce needs to generate revenue and outpace the competition. Almost 70% of HR leaders acknowledge that their organization has skill gaps, up from 55% just two years ago.

As knowledge shortages become more common, companies are in a race against the clock to acquire in-demand expertise. While hiring has traditionally been the most common tactic to close knowledge gaps, today’s economic downturn is inspiring leaders to prioritize a more cost-effective first response: internal skill-building.

However, the efficacy of upskilling and reskilling initiatives hinges on a business’s ability to identify existing gaps in training and development. Once leaders gain a clear picture of where their professional development opportunities are falling short, they can begin creating strategies to equip their workforce with the skills they need to thrive.

What are training and development gaps?

Training and development gaps describe the difference between the level of expertise that an employer needs their team or employees to possess versus the level of knowledge they currently have. Training and development gaps can be assessed on a team or individual level. These knowledge discrepancies can include a lack of hard skills, soft skills, or a combination of both types of competencies.

As priorities shift and new technological breakthroughs emerge, employees must keep updating their knowledge to ensure their expertise stays relevant. Top-performing companies will create opportunities to empower employees to hone new skills and build the knowledge needed to bridge existing gaps. Some organizations are harnessing AI-powered tools like Gloat’s Skills Foundation to keep a pulse on the knowledge their organization has and the potential gaps in training and development that are emerging.

Why is training and development important?

The caliber of training and development experiences that a company offers can make or break performance and success rates. 93% of CEOs who’ve introduced upskilling programs noted an increase in productivity as well as an improvement in talent acquisition, retention, and overall resilience.

Even the most naturally talented employees will need ongoing opportunities to hone new skills, understand how to harness technological innovations and ensure their knowledge is up to date to meet the demands of our ever-changing world.

Training and development will become particularly important as companies strive to transform into skills-based organizations, a process that 98% of businesses plan on undergoing. Skills-based organizations are 98% more likely to have a reputation as a great place to grow and develop, likely due to the fact that every employee is empowered to take on projects across the business that help them hone new skills.

The costs of poor training and development plans

When companies have poor training and development plans, both their people and their business will suffer. From an employee’s perspective, a lack of training and development experiences negatively impacts morale and employee experience. Brandon Hall Group found that 54% of companies that committed to upskilling realized improvements in engagement, illustrating the profound impact learning opportunities can have on employee experience.

In addition to being a win for employees, training and development opportunities are essential for businesses that are looking to maximize revenue and capitalize on cutting-edge innovations. Recent Korn Ferry research predicts nearly $8.5 trillion in revenue opportunities will potentially be lost by 2030 if talent shortages aren’t addressed. Businesses that prioritize bridging training and development gaps will be in the best position to avoid these losses.

4 best practices to prevent gaps in training and development

Given the high costs associated with skills shortages, every company should prioritize creating impactful training and development opportunities. Here are a few best practices:

#1. Ensure your skills inventory is up to date
It will be impossible to bridge training and development gaps without an understanding of where skills lie. In the past, organizations often took a manual approach to inventorying skills or relied on an off-the-shelf skills taxonomy. However, since employees are constantly learning new competencies, these approaches inevitably become out of date.

Rather than working with an incomplete picture of the capabilities within their workforce, leaders are harnessing AI-powered innovations like Gloat’s Skills Foundation to gain a complete understanding of their people’s capabilities. Skills Foundation can also harmonize data from disparate HR platforms to create one system of record for all workforce skills.

#2. Harness AI-powered tools to identify emerging skill gaps
In addition to gaining full visibility into the skills their workforce has, leaders need insight into emerging knowledge gaps so they can create training programs to overcome them. With Skills Foundation, they can harness skill and job benchmarking to understand which capabilities are on the rise and which are on the decline. They can also leverage Skills Landscape, which shows leaders which skills are popular for given roles, as well as capabilities that their workforce may be missing.

#3. Increase access to upskilling and reskilling opportunities
Once gaps in training and development are identified, it’s up to leaders to empower their workforce to start bridging them. The most effective training and development approaches will include both content-based L&D courses as well as experiential learning opportunities that give employees the chance to put lessons into practice.

Many companies are leveraging talent marketplaces to democratize access to career development opportunities. The platforms generate suggestions for projects, gigs, full-time roles, and mentorships based on an employee’s skills and career goals.

#4. Empower every employee to hone new expertise
Employees are motivated to perform to the best of their abilities when they feel like their organization is invested in their professional development. Yet, 53% of workers report that their current employers don’t take their future interests into consideration.

Rather than letting performance and morale plummet, leaders should empower their employees to take an active role in their professional progression. To take training and development to the next level, leading companies are harnessing their talent marketplaces’ career planning capabilities, which allow employees to see various potential career paths. They can also drill down and surface recommendations for ways to bridge skill gaps, such as participating in projects and mentorships.

To learn more about the shift to skills-based working and uncover why so many companies are making the transition, check out our research report on workforce skills

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