From tech to engineering and finance, many industries are facing a potential staffing crisis with a projected “talent gap” and a shortage of trained employees.
Leaders and politicians have made a lot of noise about the lack of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), but even manufacturing and trades can be affected by a shortage of skilled labor.
The talent gap stems from the number of Baby Boomers leaving the workforce within the next decade and the current Millennial generation preparing to enter it (both roughly 70 million people). Without getting into the vast differences between the two generations, businesses face a large challenge as we gear up to transition from a skilled workforce to one that will require a lot of hands-on training and additional education.
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How to bridge the talent gap
Here are a few practical ways that we can help our businesses build a bridge over the talent gap in years ahead.
- Analyze gaps in your own business — The first step toward bridging the gaps between the more-experienced employee and the inexperienced employee within your own organization should be to perform extensive analysis of your employees and job descriptions to understand how your workforce will change and the types of people you need to attract.
- Build from within — Once you know the type of talent you need, your first step should be to take a deep look at the employees you already have to identify candidates who you think can be trained to fill additional roles within the company. For instance, if you have a marketing associate with talents for interpreting consumer data, think about how you can use those skills in growing your data analysis initiatives. By leveraging the skills of employees who are already loyal to your company, you can shift talent to areas that need additional resources. One of the best ways to bridge the talent gap within your organization is to invest directly in your employees to create a resource that will stay within your company for years to come.
- Divert new employees for additional training — Since many people are hired to fill an immediate need, it’s not always possible to rotate new hires through the rest of your business, but it can produce valuable results. Rather than starting their new job on day one, consider a program where new hires spend 30 – 60 days working in different departments with mentors to learn specific skills and the rest of the company to produce workers with a well-rounded knowledge of your business. Even if that means making a new IT engineer answer the phones for two weeks, you now have an engineer who likely has built additional communication skills and respect for the work of other departments.
- Apprenticeships, not internships — Internships can be valuable for creating a talent pipeline to help you build loyal employees while in college. By working with state and local workforce agencies and schools, businesses have a special opportunity to spur the interest of students and to create future employees. Apprenticeships may be more effective for trades and manufacturing, but capturing students earlier is crucial to building a sustainable workforce.