Growing Skills Gap & The Need for Workplace Development

Growing Skills Gap & The Need for Workplace Development

As technology continues to shape our world and economy, the demand for high skill workers grows. Automation and artificial intelligence are expected to even further impact the landscape of employment. The rise of these new technologies also brings a need to either create them or work with them, outlining a skill set that only a small percentage of the working population has.


In the United States alone an estimated 40% of employers are having troubles in their Human Resources department when it comes to hiring and maintaining qualified employees. There are shortages of skilled employees, and often these most skilled employees are willing to leave their company to pursuit another opportunity with another organization. A large paycheck isn’t enough anymore, employees want to know organizations will invest in them and will walk away from an opportunity for another if they don’t.


The HR officers role is changing. Not only are they tasked with finding talent, attracting them, and on-boarding them, but now they are also responsible for setting new hires up for long term success through structured training efforts. The evolving role of HR officers becoming learning officers highlights a few key questions organizations are (or should be) asking themselves:

  1. What can we do to retain employees?
  2. What can we do to fill the skills gap?


Although there are many variables and no one solution, encouraging workplace learning may be a good starting point. This will rely on creating workforce development programs that address the employers both need and desire to support learning initiatives.  


Most organizations look over workforce development or learning programs in the workplace. This is because they are plagued with the idea that employee’s don’t want to learn on the job. A Deloitte report advised that 88% of learning professionals think employees just don’t care or have the time for learning at work. Furthermore, companies are not interested in investing into workforce development due to the lack of data on the ROI associated with the program or initiative.  It can often be hard to track metrics associated with learning and the direct outcomes.


Regardless of this, experts suggest that a key change in successful organizational setup will be an overall shift in mindsets. Companies should be building an internal culture of lifelong learning. In the future, “one and done” education will not be acceptable. Ensuring employees are constantly engaged in learning activities inside and outside of work will be necessary to keeping your team tuned with the proper skills.


High cognitive skills such as critical thinking, creativity and data analysis will be some of the most important traits for successful employees. The ability to take a measured approach to balancing the big picture objectives of the organization with an entrepreneurial drive to create unique solutions will be a critical aspect of how humans remain relevant and successful in a world ruled by automation. Along with these skills, the ability to work with automation in various capacities will instantaneously make workers more valuable. Running workshops and encouraging employees to research new and upcoming technology in general will be necessary to stay up to par.


In reality, learning is a focus for employees. 75% of participants in the CLO poll have invested money in the past year into independent learning. About one in five employees rely on employers for learning, while the rest are more likely to conduct their own research, or reach out to a colleague for help first. There is a disconnect between employers and employees when it comes to learning in the workplace despite continuous learning being absolutely necessary.


Learning is a bigger incentive for employees who want to improve their skills and move up the corporate ladder. Prepr offers a unique solution to this problem. The PIE problem solving framework and employee challenges can help employees become much more intrapreneurial and up skilled. It is a flexible, interdisciplinary problem solving framework that combines project leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship to tackle real world problems, build an agile team, and develop a growth mindset. With the economic landscape changing and the supply of high-skilled workers diminishing, ensuring you are retaining and up skilling your employees to meet the increasing needs of business in the modern world.


Mckinsey & Co. suggests a five component framework for effective training:

  1. Instruction is delivered in many different ways

Through training programs, different mediums and teaching tactics are used. This means a combination of traditional “in class” learning as well as video, online, mobile and hands on methods. While corporations tend to favour situational training, a no-consequence trial and error method of on-the-job activities is also an effective way to teach and encourage learning.


  1. Programs that engage participants

Similar to how the instruction is delivered, should deliver the exact skills required for the specific profession. The model should be immersive and intensive.


  1. A focus on specialized training models

Integration of technical, behavioural and mind-set skills required where on the job failure is most likely to incur.


  1. The majority of the curriculum emphasizes practice tasks

Include simulations (physical, visual, digital, augmented, virtual) with interactive animations and site visits.


  1. Assessment is done on a regular basis.

To ensuring that problems are identified and addressed in a timely manner. Employees should show mastery of all skills necessary.

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