March 4, 2022

How to Run an Effective Skills Gap Analysis  

Melissa Malec

The ability for companies to adapt, upskill and become future-proof is vital to their success now and in the future.

But how do you know which skills will become important in the future, and how can you help your people achieve their own career goals? 

Many companies turn towards running a skills gap analysis. Although a skills gap analysis can be a good place to start, it only ever measures your people’s skills at one point in time, not how their needs change or evolve. 

It can be more effective to bring in a learning and development (L&D) solution that keeps a consistent finger on the pulse of the changing needs and skills of your team. 

This ensures that you always have a true representation of the skills gaps that exist within your organisation. But that doesn’t mean a skills gap analysis isn’t beneficial for some companies and if you’ve already chosen to complete one then you’ll want to make sure it does everything it can to aid your team’s growth. 

In this article, we explain how to run an effective skills gap analysis so that you can get to the best part—providing your people with the opportunity to develop in and outside of their role. 

Firstly, What Is a Skills Gap Analysis? 

A skills gap analysis is an assessment tool used by many People or HR teams. 

It helps them measure their organisation’s current skills and whether or not they align with the company’s future needs or goals.

Once management knows which critical skills are missing from their teams, they can introduce measures to address these gaps and stay ahead of industry trends. 

Some ways to do this include investing in L&D programmes to upskill and reskill the company’s current employees or by hiring freelancers. 

Make a Habit Out of It 

You don’t want to start a new project or change your business strategy and then realise that your company doesn’t have the desired skills to see it through. 

This is why skills gap analyses shouldn’t be a one-off exercise. 

Instead, it should be an ongoing process to ensure your people's skills are always aligned with current and future business needs, as well as their own professional aspirations. 

What Are the Benefits of Conducting a Skills Gap Analysis? 

Now that you have a better idea of what a skills gap analysis is, let's take a closer look at how conducting one can benefit your business. 

It Will Help You Design the Future of Your Organisation 

Research shows that around 30% of workers in the UK may need to transform their jobs and adjust their skill levels by 2030. 

Some of the reasons for this include how technology, the pandemic and younger generations are changing the nature of traditional jobs and their responsibilities. 

As a result, many managers will have to redesign jobs to ensure that their company can keep up with global and industry changes. 

A skills gap analysis helps you identify roles that will need to be filled in the future, either by making new hires or upskilling current team members.  

This ensures that as your company grows, you have the right skills in place to meet long-term business demands. 

A Skills Gap Analysis Boosts L&D Efforts

One of the other benefits of a skills gap analysis is that it gives managers and teams a better idea of the competencies they need to improve. 

This allows companies to use learning and development programmes and platforms more effectively. 

Instead of spending money on one-size-fits-none training, companies give their teams access to learning resources that account for each person’s unique learning needs and preferences.

Choosing learning materials that are best suited to the individual makes the training programmes far more effective and engaging. 

Not only will this help team members stay engaged with their learning and make progress in their careers, but the company will benefit from their new skills and knowledge. 

It Can Improve Your Hiring Strategy 

Sometimes your company may require technical skills that cannot easily or quickly be taught.

A skills gap analysis allows you to spot these skills shortages in advance so that you can find job candidates with these skills before you need them. 

This allows you to build balanced teams with diverse skill sets. It’s also much easier to recruit people once you know exactly which skills you need to fulfil a role. 

How to Perform a Skills Gap Analysis 

In this section, we’ll show you how to run a skills gap analysis to support the L&D efforts of your company.   

You can also use these steps to create a skills gap analysis template for your company to use in the future. 

Step 1: Plan the Analysis

A skill gap analysis is usually performed on two levels: the individual and the team level. 

Before you begin, you will need to make a list of people who can help you find out where skills gaps exist within your company. 

This will include holding meetings and skill assessments with each team member, as well as team leaders and managers of different departments. 

It’s also a good idea to hold a company-wide meeting to let people know why the skills gap analysis is being done, how long it will take and what will be expected of them. 

You should also communicate to your teams that the organisation is not looking for shortcomings in performance. 

Instead, the purpose of the process is to identify skills gaps to help the company grow.

Step 2: Measure Existing Skills 

The next step is to evaluate people’s current skill levels to establish where gaps might exist. 

There are many different ways you can measure existing skills. Some of which include:

  • Look at each person’s key performance indicators (KPIs) or personal development plans to see if there are skills that they are consistently missing. 
  • You could also hold meetings with each team member and manager to find out where they think skill gaps are.
  • Each person could fill out a survey where they indicate the skills they would like to develop and how the company can help support them. 

It’s also important that management approaches conversations about skill gaps with sensitivity. 

The best way to do this is to build psychological safety amongst your teams to aid these conversations in being empowering and productive. 

Step 3: Identify Important Skills Needed for the Future 

This step requires a bit of forward thinking. Begin by asking people across departments and teams where they see the company in three to five years. 

This is because they often have a much better idea of what skills are needed within the company for it to achieve its goals. 

Learnerbly’s COO Jonny always asks our marketing team which hire we think we need next. 

Although he and leadership make the final decision, he knows that he needs to listen to our team to identify where skill gaps exist, what skills existing team members want to fill and what ones they do not. 

Here are a few questions to get you started: 

  • What are our long-term business goals?
  • Which skills do we need to get us where we want to go?
  • Which positions currently don’t exist, but might become essential for our company’s needs? 
  • How can we train existing teams to do their jobs well now and in the future?

Many of these questions are also linked to trends in the future of work. Lots of the positions that exist in our current workplaces didn’t exist in the early 2000s. 

One example that comes to mind is the role of social media managers. This position has become integral to many companies due to the rising popularity of digital marketing. 

We know that making accurate predictions about the future of your company is difficult.

However, keeping track of roles that may become integral to your industry is a great way to ensure that you have the right skills available when or if the need arises.

How Does This Work in Practice?

Imagine that a product design department is looking to expand because the demands on their time and the tasks they need to do are beyond the scope of their current team. They would like to take on three more people to become a team of five. 

Some of the questions people managers should be asking their teams are: 

  • Why five people?
  • What does the healthy skills balance of your future team look like?
  • Based on what you want to achieve over the next two years, is that the team that will help you get there?
  • If you could bottle up your team’s current skills and experience, what would you go out looking for? 

Asking the right questions will help you tease out the hard and soft skills that are most necessary to help teams be successful in future. 

It also allows you to start reflective conversations with managers about why they think new hires are necessary and if there are better ways to acquire these skills. 

Step 4: Identify Where the Skill Gaps Are 

The next step is to break down the skills gaps by team and map it against what you think they should have in their wheelhouse. 

You should also think about the future goals of your business and prioritise addressing the skills gaps you need to get you there. 

This information will inform how you address your company’s skill gaps in the next step.

Step 5: Act On the Findings 

Now that you know where skill gaps exist, you can start planning how your company will address them. 

One way to do this is to offer continuous learning opportunities in the areas that need development. 

This could be through in-house workshops or by giving your people access to a marketplace of learning resources.  

Another option is to introduce mentorship programmes to help transfer skills and knowledge between team members and managers. 

As we mentioned earlier, sometimes skill gaps are too wide to solve through upskilling. In these situations, you will have to make new hires or bring in freelancers. 

You can improve the hiring process by screening applicants for the skills shortage you identified through the analysis process. 

You can do this by asking job candidates to complete practical assignments during the interview that analyse the skills you’re looking for. 

This will help you make sure you are hiring people with the skills required for current and future business needs.

Is a Skills Gap Analysis Enough? 

To prepare for the future, you need to know which skills your company and its people will need to be successful. 

Although skills gap analyses can be useful, they can miss important details about your teams, especially over time. 

Learnerbly is an online L&D marketplace that works well alongside (or instead of) a skills gap analysis. We have a whole article on why this could be your best option.

In a nutshell, our interactive platform shows you what kind of learning your people prioritise, which informs you of where their skills gaps exist. 

With Learnerbly, your teams can access curated content that is personalised to their interests, goals and learning preferences. 

This allows you to continuously improve your L&D efforts to upskill and reskill your people for the future. 

Most importantly, Learnerbly helps you ensure that you always have the right people with the necessary skills on board. 

To discuss how Learnerbly can help your business and empower your people, please get in touch here.

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