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Record unemployment figures are, paradoxically, matched by record numbers of companies who cannot find the skills they need.
Accenture analyzes its recent US Skills Gap Survey to understand the nature and extent of the skills gap—and proposes seven strategies that companies in pursuit of high performance can follow.
In 2012, a record number of people around the globe are unemployed—200 million, by some estimates. Yet as much as 34 percent of employers worldwide are having difficulty filling open positions. The vast majority (73 percent) cite lack of experience, skills or knowledge as the primary obstacle to recruiting needed talent.
The situation is even worse when it comes to the skills gaps within an organization’s existing workforce. Less than half of all workers (49 percent) surveyed by Accenture agreed that they have all the skills needed to perform their job at their best. In another Accenture survey, only 16 percent of 674 global executives described their workforce’s skill level as industry leading.
In short, the people are there. But they aren’t the right people—those with the capabilities, education and business skills that companies need right now. When organizations once again step up their hiring efforts—and demand even more sophisticated skills essential for innovation and growth—the problem could reach crisis levels. For many companies, the skills gap has already dealt harsh blows, in the form of delayed product releases as well as eroded customer satisfaction and revenue. For some, the gap has led to the demise or sale of a business.
Accenture conducted a US Skills Gap Survey to deepen its understanding of this paradox and come up with solutions.
Workers have adopted a range of new skills in the past five years: technology (52 percent), problem-solving (31 percent), communication (26 percent), analytical (26 percent), industry-specific knowledge and skills (25 percent), technical (25 percent).
Sixty-two percent of workers have changed careers at least once to meet the demands of the job market; 35 percent have changed careers twice.
Workers’ full set of capabilities is not utilized.
Workers face internal mobility challenges.
Workers are willing to share personal information with prospective employers (60 percent).
Workers embrace ongoing conversations with potential employers (62 percent).
Seventy-four percent of workers report it is their responsibility to update their skills to remain marketable.
Workers mainly learn new skills via on-the-job training (63 percent). Formal training supplied by the company accounts for 21 percent, while training attended outside the company is comparable at 19 percent.
Forty-nine percent of workers feel that they do not understand employers’ skills needs.
Executives tell us that today’s talent landscape differs markedly from yesterday’s. Navigating it to close skills gaps requires more creativity, commitment and innovation than ever before. Consider some of the forces reshaping the landscape:
Workers need a diverse portfolio of skills to stay relevant. To hold down the complex jobs making up today’s knowledge-driven, technology-oriented economy, individuals must develop not just one or two key functional skills but rather a large and increasingly diverse portfolio of skills.
Workers need more sophisticated skill sets. Workers need to take existing skills to higher levels, enabling more decision-making and higher levels of concentration.
Educational institutions struggle to synchronize skills development with skills demand. Companies looking for knowledgeable workers and those looking for skilled tradespeople are finding a lack of the right skills.
Organization’s need “just-in-time” skills. Business models, technologies, customer preferences and economic trends change at lightning speed. To stay competitive in the face of such change, companies must be able to pull in required skills whenever and wherever they’re needed, and workers must be prepared to change careers.
Relocating talent to where it’s needed is difficult. Legal, cultural and societal barriers—such as immigration policies and cross-cultural communication problems—can make it difficult for organizations to move talent to where it’s needed most, within a nation as well as across nations.
Innovative strategies are needed to close skills gaps. Accenture has identified seven strategies that can help organizations close skills gaps quickly and thus sustain their competitive edge:
Look beyond specific skills. Specific skills may not be necessary in many jobs—and may cause you to exclude many promising candidates from the recruitment process.
Mine talent hidden in your organization. Create a database of employees’ skills and then design processes and incentives that encourage people to move as needed.
Source external talent through creative means. Innovations in recruiting and hiring (many of which exploit rich data and online technologies) can help you find skilled talent on a global basis.
Create and leverage external talent networks. External talent networks can help close skills gaps. These networks now include “talent in the cloud.”
Embed learning into everyday work to develop employees’ skills quickly. Companies can no longer rely on buying the talent they need to close skills gaps.
Redesign work. Enable demand-driven skills deployment by redesigning job descriptions. Examples include consolidating highly skilled tasks into fewer positions; using technology to perform lower skilled work; and breaking monolithic jobs into smaller, skills-based projects.
Create transparency into your organization’s talent needs. To develop the skills your company needs, employees must know what those skills are as well as where and when they’re needed in the organization.
June 4, 2012
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