Solving the skills crisis

Author // Vega Sims Categories // HR and Training

The FSB ‘Voice of Small Business’ survey revealed that small businesses still have difficulties finding suitably skilled staff despite a steep rise in unemployment. In order to solve this global crisis, businesses will have to look at new flexible approaches as a knowledge driven work environment makes it much harder to find the right person for the job, regardless of geographical location or business size.

Small business may be affected more severely than large organisations as they do not have access to extensive benefit packages and large recruitment budgets. They are also not able to rely on a well known brand reputation to attract employees. With this in mind, how can small businesses obtain the skills they need?

  1. Avoid a narrow focus on a very specific skill set, unless it is absolutely necessary. It can work to your benefit to hire someone who is ‘developable’. Very often, with just a little additional training, an individual will be able to perform well. Specific skill sets are also not a guarantee of good job performance. To predict performance, it’s much better to look at competencies, for example communication skills, and what makes a good fit with your organisational culture
  2. Utilise new ways of recruiting, for example use social media sites such as LinkedIn to identify candidates. Very often individuals have various social media profiles, which will help you to get to know their personality before hiring
  3. Share and borrow talent from partner organisations. It can be particularly useful for smaller businesses that have peak periods at different times to establish a network of partners in order to share for example customer services or telemarketing staff. The same can be done with expert personnel like Finance, HR and Marketing staff. When sharing staff you are able to provide the individual with job security, better/broader experience and a more varied role, which may be very appealing to some
  4. Explore hidden talent amongst existing employees. Setting up a database of skills that already exists within the company can be very useful as both the company and employees can benefit from having a wider portfolio of skills at their disposal, which can be applied to meet changes in demand. You may be surprised to learn that many of your employees have aquired a range of skills throughout their working careers that may not always be utilised within their current role
  5. Redesign job roles to fit the skills of your workforce. It can be very useful for companies to consolidate skills tasks into fewer positions or to allow flexibility so that individuals adjust and expand their skills as the business need changes. This aspect can often provide individuals with better job satisfaction as they are able to perform tasks that are more varied and less repetitive
  6. Use innovation in learning to develop skills. With the availability of new technology and training methods, individuals have the opportunity to learn new skills with more flexibility in real time by using the Internet, tablet applications, coaching etc.

In today’s working world, companies must be able to fill skills gaps quickly in order to stay competitive. Companies who are able to use the rise in unemployment i.e. expanded candidate pool to their advantage (in creative ways), will not only fulfil their own business needs, but will also provide valuable opportunities to individuals who are finding it difficult to secure rewarding new employment. In order to tap into this pool of candidates, businesses will have to look beyond an individual’s CV to identify candidates who can be developed into exceptional workers through cultural fit, key competencies and an attitude that demonstrates a willingness to learn and excel.

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