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Modern Challenges to Business Success – Addressing the Skills Gap

A bunch of technical workers filling in some jobs

According to recent job reports, there are nearly 10 million unemployed Americans in the country, while there are 9.2 million jobs currently available. This mismatch seems odd, given the pandemic-related economic stresses that many individuals are experiencing. But there’s more to the situation than simply connecting job-seekers with job openings. In fact, several factors likely account for this situation, and one of the most important involves a notable skills gap between jobs and an available technical talent pool.

Analysts have evaluated the current job market situation and cited several issues driving these changes. For some, there is a fear of contracting COVID by returning to their positions. Others have childcare responsibilities that prevent them from returning to the workforce. And some suggest unemployment supports have reduced employee incentives for seeking jobs. But these developments cannot account for the skills gap that existed prior to the pandemic. The technical talent pool was already limited before COVID appeared. Now, it’s simply worse, and businesses must decide how best to deal with the situation.

“The competition for talent will only continue to grow, so manufacturers absolutely need to do everything they can to widen their pool of potential candidates. This should include actively recruiting capable individuals from non-traditional or alternative sources.” – Kylene Zenk, Director of the Manufacturing Practice, UKG

Firms in Need of Technical Talent Pool

According to employer polls, roughly 60 percent of companies are experiencing a skills gap in employee recruitment. As technology has advanced, new job positions have emerged. Many were concerned about workers suffering from job displacement in the process. And while this has occurred to an extent, the number of new skilled jobs have outpaced those lost. This coincides with worker sentiments that describe 40 percent of employees feel they need additional skills. Likewise, nearly two-thirds are willing to learn new abilities and talents. But despite this, the technical talent pool remains insufficient.

One of the major barriers in advancing the technical talent pool has involved costs. Employees often cannot afford to pursue such training on their own. Others invest in college education and degrees that fail to match up well with job market needs. As a result, the burden falls on businesses and employers to decide how to attract and keep key talent. But with the skills gap growing each year, the competition for highly skilled workers have increased substantially. The pandemic didn’t help the situation, with 54 percent of manufacturers describing difficulty finding talent. But even before this, nearly 40 percent reported skills gap challenges in recruiting workers.

“There’s a lot of amazing software that’s making robots easier to program and repurpose – but not nearly enough people to do that work.” – Ryan Kelly, Business Group Leader, Association for Manufacturing Technology

Robotics and Software Not Always the Answer

For many larger corporations and businesses, advanced technologies have helped address a skills gap. Robotics and enterprise software allow some businesses to streamline processes and improve productivity. However, this is not often a feasible option for small-to-medium enterprises. In fact, the use of robotics in manufacturing firms with less than 500 employees is rare. Therefore, an insufficient technical talent pool hinders these businesses significantly. With more than 40 percent of all manufacturing employees hired by smaller businesses, this poses a problem.

Even for businesses able to finance advanced technologies, there remains a need for a technical talent pool of workers. Skilled talent is required for technology oversight and to implement effective operations and processes. Likewise, a skills gap often exist in areas like cybersecurity and data privacy protections. (Read about how cybersecurity versus ransomware is non-negotiable for every enterprise in this Bold Business story.) These areas have increasingly become an important need for nearly all enterprises today. While software and robotics facilitate efficiency and productivity for many companies, this doesn’t necessarily obviate the need for well-trained workers.

“Businesses must work together with their hiring teams, committing to a solid plan, leaning into the end-to-end process and together thinking about how to attract, engage, assess and onboard broader pools of potential talent than ever before.” – Tom Lovell, Managing Director of Tech Skills, techUK

Potential Solutions to the Skills Gap

Fortunately, businesses have a few options in addressing the skills gap and the lack of a technical talent pool. For many businesses, upskilling and reskilling are strategies being used. Upskilling refers to training and development an existing employee for additional responsibilities and tasks. (Read about Bold Business’ training solutions here.) In contrast, reskilling describes training a worker for an entirely new position and set of skills. Both can be helpful and add value to an organization. Likewise, these can create a culture of learning and innovation that boost employee retention. These are reasons why companies like Amazon, Google and others have pursued these approaches.

Someone reading the classified with a magnifying glass
Yes, there’s a skills gap between the number of job openings and the technical talent pool–what’s the solution?

Of course, not every existing worker is a great candidate for upskilling or reskilling. Those with good management abilities, high reliability, and strong initiative are among the best. But even for these employees, businesses must decide how to go about training. This often requires curricular development and notable investments in time and mentoring. Companies must also determine whether such training is offered online or in-person. These determinations will vary based on business needs. However, developing such upskilling and reskilling programs can be highly effective for many companies.

Offshore Hiring a Technical Talent Pool

Not every company has the capacity to invest in reskilling or upskilling. Others may be under time pressure to acquire a technical talent pool  in order to meet market demands. As a result, many smaller businesses have considered some hires that may not otherwise be ideal. Not only can tis be a waste of time and resources. It may also affect the quality of work performed and damage business reputation and brand. For such companies, offshore hiring of business processes may be a better approach in dealing with the skills gap. Likewise, outsourcing training and development services to a reputable firm may also be effective. In any case, successful companies will need to effectively address modern skill gap concerns. Several options exist, and finding the one that best suites a specific business is essential.


The official Bold Business survey results are clear: most favor work-from-home over going back to the office. Read more in this important Bold story!

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