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Need to bridge the "skill gap"
A skill gap is a gap between what employers want or need their employees to be able to do, and what those employees can actually do.
A skills gap is the difference between skills that employers want or need and skills their workforce offer. A Skill gap is a major issue faced by both employee and employers in today’s fast-moving world. This is due to the advent of new technologies and adoption of digitalisation. The "gap" may indicate a need to adjust headcount, rethinking your compensation package or changing recruitment tactics establish a career development program, programs to encourage employee engagement or restructure the business. Working towards reducing skill gap can lead to professional improvement, increase chances of promotion for the concerned employee, increases productivity, increases employee retention and boosts bottom-lines.
Veena Amin, Senior Manager HR, Xoxoday said,”It is common these days to hear people talking about skill gaps. A skill gap is a gap between what employers want or need their employees to be able to do, and what those employees can actually do.One manager might say, "I have got a fantastic team, but I don't have one single person who understands innovation which important in a start-up."Another manager could say, "I need people with React Js experience and I can't find them, and it's killing my product!" Almost every organization struggles with skill gaps How do we solve this?” She also added that at Xoxoday various measures are being followed like “focusing only on highly specific skills is important for certain niche positions where perfection is demanded. But in most cases, the high specifics can be taught so focusing on quick learners will solve the purpose. Training presents a prime opportunity to expand the knowledge or fill the skill gap, this helps in Improving employee performance & Improve employee satisfaction and morale. Ongoing training and upskilling of the workforce can encourage creativity through which new ideas can be formed as a direct result of training and development. Innovations in hiring help to find high-performing people quickly and relatively less expensive than traditional hiring practices. Competency, skills, or cultural fit assessments on the front end of the screening process can supplement an initial, résumé-based screening.”
Gayathri Vasudevan, Co-Founder & CEO, LabourNet Services said,”Capable People, Great Process and Appropriate deployment of Capital result in great companies. Ensuring that a firm has capable people at an appropriate budget is the responsibility of HR. HR is privy to both the future needs of a firm as well as today's requirements. For today's requirement's, identifying skills gap and ensuring effective ways of recruiting right personnel and putting in place a robust L&D programme is critical. For future needs, HR needs to actively engage with educational, vocational educational and professional academic bodies to shape teaching curriculum and content.”
Smitha Galla, Head-Human Resources at TUV Rheinland India shared that “Most managers are concerned about the Skill gap these days but what we fail to understand is that we cannot find a 100 percent best fit for our requirements.. We need to tune ourselves to be close to reality.HR needs to focus on Hiring, Developing and Retaining to be able to bridge the skill gap. Certain skills are inherited and biological and cannot be taught but such skills can be developed to deliver desired results. Creativity, for example, cannot be taught but if developed it leads to innovative ideas. And that is why bridging the skill gap starts with hiring the right candidate by eliminating bias and being focused on what kind of people we need to build our organization.To be able to hire the right match we need to identify the project or job-specific skill sets that are required to be qualified for a position in the organization. It is also important that employees and potential candidates are made aware of such skills sets.Once an employee is hired it is also important that we have standardized skill assessments across teams. Levels of assessments could be set as per the organisation's requirement. A five-level assessment is ideal in my opinion – Novice, Beginner, Practitioner, Trainer and Expert levels can be described for each skill type. The expected skill level of each position needs to be defined and employees must be mapped against the defined skills. The gap between the current skill level and expected skill is the area for development through training, mentoring, coaching or shadowing. Just training would not suffice, employees must be empowered and given opportunities to implement what they learn and demonstrate their capabilities. Bridging the skill gap is a combined effort of both the educators and employers.”
Suchita Dutta, Executive Director, Indian Staffing Federation added “HR is becoming a challenging function now comparatively as they need to consider factors like technology, applications, and an endless flow of information and communication from diverse sources while attracting, developing and retaining talent. The need is to identify the gaps in the employees’ experience and what they want from the organisation, so that HR can accordingly align them with the company’s goals and requirements and cultivate them in the desired culture. On the job training is a common way to do this.The other way is to partner with a renowned institute and explain them the organization’s requirements so that they can prepare desired skilled prospective candidates."
Sushil Baveja, Executive Director & Head- HR, DCM Shriram Ltd shared, “HR will need to be innovative and think beyond the conventional sources of seeking skill. It needs to work closely with the academic and technical institutions in building and delivering industry relevant courses & curriculum, work proactively on affirmative action to bring the excluded sections in the mainstream of workforce and encourage and incentivize multi-skilling which can also open up more career options for employees.”
Sashi Kumar, Managing Director, Indeed India said,“The issue of talent mismatch or skills gap is a major concern faced by recruiters across sectors and industries. At the same time, employees are growing increasingly concerned about the skills they need to acquire in order to stay relevant in their field of work. While it is vital to the health and long-term viability of an organization to ensure its employees have the appropriate skills, it is also conducive to overall employee satisfaction to have people working at jobs that they are well-suited for and enjoy doing. Recruiters and potential employers can undertake a few measures to help curb talent mismatch, be it in terms of pre-hiring initiatives or post-hiring programmes that could also include current employees. Employers would do well to invest in strategic partnerships that could help train new employees, as well as work towards creating a holistic learning culture within the organization, that encourages employees to continuously upgrade themselves, while also providing assessment and feedback to ensure results.”
Pallavi Jha, Chairperson, and Managing Director, Dale Carnegie Training India said, "HR should provide quick, easy access to relevant learning for your employees. Look for services that specialize in in-depth, up-to-date content on a wide variety of topics pertaining to your business. A combination of learning platforms and methodologies is the best way to create interest and long-lasting learning. Partner with your workforce to figure out which skills they think they need to develop based on business goals, and make an informed decision. Managers should allow freedom for employees to figure out the best processes and means to achieve success, thereby fostering a creative environment. Learning in the workplace often means admitting that you don’t know something, or would like to expand your scope of knowledge performance. Employees are understandably reluctant to do so. The job, therefore, lies with HR and leaders to create an environment that inspires personal growth and the pursuit of knowledge. Leaders – and line managers too - can do this by sharing their own stories of professional development, establishing that learning is important and needn’t involve any self-consciousness. Whether this means discussing resources found with other staff members or setting time aside to talk about employees’ latest entries into professional development, creating the right culture has to start from the top. Senior leaders are the ones with the most power to influence change in the culture of the business. There are several paths to build a learning organization, and they all come back to management culture. If you build a culture that encourages and supports learning, gives people time to reflect, develop, share expertise and learn from mistakes, you’re on the right track."
Anil Kumar Misra, CHRO, Magicbricks said, “Competency development has to be the core agenda for HR. For long, technical training programs have been managed by different functions at their end while HR was responsible for soft skill training and leadership training. But now this model doesn’t work. HR plays a critical role in identifying training programs, which would focus on bridging the competency gaps through training and development.For comprehensive growth of any organisation learning and development has to fall under HR kitty. My view is that overall competency development should be driven by HR. When it comes to competency be it technical, the leadership of behavioral, HR should be the custodian of Centre of Excellence (COE). Strategically, HR has to proactively identify potential talent in the market who can join and also keeping them warm as well. In product and tech, we have recently started Leadership Lecture Series, wherein the leading product and tech guys are invited to share their experiences with our employees. This not only enlightens our employees but also works as a good brand building exercise to attract leading product and tech guys.Internally we also stress a lot on job rotation and job shadowing so that in case of any emergency our employees are capable of handling all the challenges. We are also planning to run a programme at the grad level on the online real estate sector. This would prepare the next generation of the workforce for their career challenges. Courses like these will give them an edge over other and by this, we can bridge the competency gaps.”
Sumit Kumar, Vice President, NETAP , TeamLease Services, shared that,” Indian enterprises can make an impact in bridging skill deficit. The best way to go about doing is through apprenticeships. Look at China which has made most of its people. Over 80 percent of the workforce has gone through formal training as compared to 4 percent in India. China has 20 million apprentices in India which has approximately 4 lacs. Less than 1 percent of the enterprises in India appoint apprentices, which is abysmal as compared to the opportunity it holds to add to the skilled population of the country. The HR function can play a vital role in making skilling happen through apprenticeships. Enterprises need to come forward to look at breeding talent in-house by adopting apprenticeship system which is “learning by doing”. School dropouts or students pursuing education or fresh pass outs can be transformed into the productive workforce through on the job training. To make the learning impactful for the apprentices, HR function should focus on the blended form of training, a combination of an on the job and off the job training. While on the job focuses on the application of the knowledge; off the job (classroom) makes the person conceptually strong. Technology could play an enabler in imparting off the job training. A digital platform can make knowledge accessible to the remotest of location and cover trainees scattered in a different location. Employer establishments are the new classrooms for vocational education which are a house of relevant knowledge, has best in-house trainers to impart it and shop floors to practice it. In 1964, Gary Becker, a Nobel laureate, emphasized the importance of on-the-job training in Human Capital. As per his study, firms ignore the effect of the productive process on worker productivity. Government alone cannot address skill gap without employers participation. HR should give a serious thought of creating a layer of apprentices which could not only solve their problem of finding talent but also address the national issue of employability of the youth.”
This "gap" must be addressed to arm organization with an effective and efficient workforce. Organisations are working together to enhance skill and productivity of their biggest asset that is employers.