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The Importance of Tracking Skill Development on the Journey to Close Skills Gaps

leadership

By Debasis Dutta

 

Organizations face mounting pressure to adapt to emerging technologies, shifting market dynamics, and changing social landscapes in today’s rapidly evolving landscape. With generative AI emerging as a prominent force, new technological innovation is poised to reshape modern workplaces across diverse sectors. This dynamic backdrop highlights a significant shift in how traditional careers and their requisite skills are perceived in our fast-changing world.

 

The Imperative for Skill Development

IDC predicts that by 2026, 90% of organizations will face skills gaps, costing more than $5.5 trillion worldwide in delayed product releases, reduced customer satisfaction, and lost revenue. Recent Skillsoft research also shows that 66% of IT leaders report grappling with skill gaps within their workforce, a trend they expect to persist for the next one to two years. This stagnation serves as a clarion call for organizations to proactively ready their workforce for the future.

 

To maintain competitiveness in today’s global market, organizations must ensure their workforce possesses the necessary skills to drive innovation and fuel business growth. Addressing the complexities of heightened demand for skilled professionals necessitates building a workforce adept in technical and non-technical areas. This entails hiring skilled professionals and retaining existing talent through strategic upskilling and reskilling initiatives.

 

Reasons to Track Skills Development

With every organization heavily reliant on constantly evolving technology, the rapid pace of change significantly contributes to prevailing skill gaps. To tackle this challenge, employers must first know their workforce’s proficiency. This can be done through skill benchmarks—short diagnostic assessments tied to specific learning objectives— to assess, fortify, index, and track in-house skills development. While traditional, normative-based assessments compare learners’ knowledge to the average of other learners, which may not match the level of proficiency each organization requires to be successful, skill benchmarks’ criterion-based tests measure capabilities against specific objectives defined by leading subject matter experts. This allows organizations and learners to determine if they are objectively proficient in certain skill areas and successfully retaining and applying gained knowledge in the workplace.

 

Tracking skills development in this way enables organizations to:

 

  • Understand the Diversity of Skill Levels: No two employees are the same — every workforce comprises individuals with varying expertise and competencies. Leaders need to measure their teams’ capabilities to gain valuable insights into the diverse skill sets present within their teams and ensure conceptual understanding and mastery. By understanding the breadth and depth of skills across different roles and departments, employers can make informed decisions regarding resource allocation, project assignments, and talent development initiatives, using data to drive workforce transformation.
  • Identify Areas of Strength and Improvement: Tracking skill proficiencies provides employers with a clear picture of their workforce’s strengths and areas for improvement. By analyzing a skills dashboard, employers can identify emerging trends, gaps, or deficiencies in specific skill sets to address skill gaps before they become detrimental to performance or hinder business objectives. Whether through targeted training programs, coaching opportunities, or strategic hiring decisions, employers can take proactive measures to enhance their workforce’s capabilities while eliminating redundant or irrelevant training.
  • Provide Individualized Feedback for Personalized Development: Tracking skill proficiencies empowers employers to provide personalized feedback and development opportunities tailored to each employee’s strengths, weaknesses, and career aspirations. By leveraging skill data, managers can deliver more meaningful feedback, set realistic performance goals, and design customized assignments to facilitate specific skills growth. This individualized approach not only enhances employee engagement and satisfaction but also fosters a culture of continuous learning and development, driving improved performance and retention rates across the organization.

 

In a world where the only constant is change, the willingness and ability to learn, adapt, and grow have never been more critical. The ability to track and measure skilling capabilities is indispensable and foundational to organizational success. By tracking skills development, organizations can pinpoint skill gaps, offer personalized development opportunities, and cultivate a culture of continuous learning and growth, ensuring readiness for the challenges and opportunities of the future.

 

(The author is Debasis Dutta, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Solutions, Skillsoft, and the views expressed in this article are his own)