Published On: Mon, Nov 30th, 2015

Can Employee Training Help Close The Skills Gap?

If the last few years have shown businesses anything, it is that good staff are becoming ever harder to find. As major economies, such as the United States, have recovered from the financial crisis, employment rates have risen consistently to the stage where it is becoming increasingly difficult for small and medium sized businesses to find the staff that they need.

There are reasons for this. Firstly, the world has become very technical, very quickly. Not too many years ago an employee with technical skills worked in a factory, or as a designer, or in any sort of job that used their hands. Fast forwards a decade or so and now most people with technical skills sit at a desk, in an office, behind a computer. The pace of this change has created what policy makers call a skills gap.

To be fair, some of this gap is made of employers own doing. We have all seen advertisements and job descriptions where the company in question needs an actual performer of miracles and skill sets that might cross five, six or seven different job descriptions – and all for below market rates of pay. In many cases, those companies deserve to not fill their open positions because there might literally be zero potential applicants that can do the job.

photo by Scott A. Thornbloom

photo by Scott A. Thornbloom

There is also a relationship between the education system and the skills gap. Many people believe that a modern school and university offer little real preparation for the work ahead that in a busy, growing company. While this may or may not be true, it might just be complaints from one generation about another, something that has been going on forever.

Yet there are other firms that are taking a different route to find the people they need: they are investing more into training their existing staff.

These enlightened companies are finding ways to bring modern trainings and certifications to their existing employees. It makes a lot of sense, after all, if you already know a person well and have employed them for a long time and want them to stay, why not help their knowledge, skills and development by providing the training that they need to progress? It ought to be a win-win for the employer and the employee.

One way that some companies approach this problem is to hold off-site meetings and events where work is forgotten and the focus is on the training. This used to be quite common for sales staff, but is becoming more prevalent for other types of worker as well. We spoke to Mauro Gasan, founder of a leading destination management company in Europe about the trend. He told us that, “We used to mostly arrange events for sales teams or upper management – either as a reward or a training session – but we see more and more groups each year coming to us from different parts of the company. In fact, this year we have arranged many more events for entire companies – where every member of staff came on the trip – than we would normally expect”.

However your company deals with the skills gap, it looks to finally be some good news for the majority of employees. After several downtrodden years, the value provided by the inhabitants of Main Street is being recognized and limited supply is gradually turning into improved pay and conditions. On behalf of everyone we know, let’s hope that this trend continues.

Guest Author: Stuart Langridge

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