(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is sponsored by our friends at iCIMS, a leading provider of innovative Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) talent acquisition solutions. For the second time, iCIMS has won the coveted 2013 Brandon Hall Group Bronze Award for excellence in talent acquisition technology. Congrats to them! Enjoy today’s post.)
During this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama mentioned the growing skills gap in the U.S. He talked about the need for the country to focus on job skills training by encouraging apprenticeships and internships as well as building stronger connections between the business and education communities.
A few days later, Hank Jackson, chief executive officer for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), echoed the same message. He referred to our current skills gap as “the defining business challenge of our time.” For those of you out on Twitter, check out the hashtag #SkillsGap. A very interesting read.
The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) defines the skills gap as “the gap between an organization’s current capabilities and the skills it needs to achieve its goals”. It’s the point where an organization cannot grow or expand because it’s unable to hire employees with the right knowledge, skills and abilities. The gap keeps companies from remaining competitive in the marketplace.
Right now, the skills gap is being felt by business. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers Trendsetter Barometer report, 57% of companies plan to hire this year. The same report says 25% cite finding qualified workers a barrier to growth. The demand for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills is particularly high and some new reports mention that our original estimates regarding STEM jobs might have been understated.
As human resources professionals, there are steps we can take to ensure we’re attracting the candidates that our organizations need now and in the future. The last thing we want is for the business to look at HR as the reason it’s unable to innovate the next big thing or accept a large project/client because the talent isn’t available.
The current skills gap conversation isn’t going away. In fact, the discussion promises to be more prominent in the months to come. Human resources would be well served to re-examine their current recruitment strategy to ensure they are doing everything possible to bridge the gap. Here are 5 things to consider:
1 – Build relationships with colleges and universities. Not just to show up on career day or hire new graduates. Business leaders should share with the education community the skills the business requires from graduates. They should also give feedback about the skills they are seeing in candidate interviews as well as the ones they’d like to see more. Hopefully those conversations will prompt revisions in curriculum. Because colleges want their graduates to get jobs.
2 – Create internal skills building programs. For those skills that cannot be obtained in the university setting (and we both know there are some), this is where corporations need to develop internal training programs designed to give employees the skills they need. Or partner with an external organization that can provide the skill. Either way, we have to realize everything cannot be learned in school and build a strategy for skills development within our organizations.
3 – Become knowledgeable on professional certifications and certificates. Many jobs and industries have specific certificate programs and professional certifications that provide continuing education for professionals. Partnering with these programs could provide a valuable source of applicant flow. It could also be a way to increase the skills of existing employees.
4 – Bring technology into the recruiting process. Candidates today want an easy application process. Frankly, we all want an easy application process – otherwise, candidates won’t use it. Taking advantage of what technology can do for us only makes sense. iCIMS Recruit provides organizations with a branded portal that allows candidates to easily apply for jobs and share jobs with their friends.
5 – Develop talent networks to engage with future candidates. There are some jobs that we know are tough to fill. With the skills gap, even more jobs will become a challenge. Creating a talent network to keep candidates engaged with the company only makes sense. However, a talent network will not be successful if you don’t start one until you need it.
Organizations must start developing strategies to deal with the effects of the skills gap. It’s not somebody else’s problem. It’s everyone’s challenge and it will take a while for us to deal with the impact. Being able to effectively recruit will take more than just the usual strategies.
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iCIMS realizes the challenges businesses face and has created the Hire Expectations Institute as a resource for both employers and job seekers. It contains articles, videos, whitepapers, webinars, and event schedules to make your recruiting or job search challenges easier. I hope you’ll check it out. There’s lots of great information to help with the stress of recruiting during the skills gap.0