The changing workforce: Develop skills or risk skills gaps at crucial times

A new generation of “millennials” are rapidly replacing retiring baby boomers

What are the implications for companies as the skills and experience of the baby boomers disappear into retirement with them?

According to a report by PWC, millennials already form 25% of the workforce in the US and over half in India. By 2020, it’s predicted, nearly half the global workforce will be millennials. But as this tech-savvy generation takes over, do these entry-level employees really have all the necessary skills to succeed?

Reports on this generational shift indicate significant skills gaps

PWC reported that four out ofIMG_1038 five chief executives said that “they don’t think they will be able to find the right people to work for them”. It’s a paradox that is plaguing the changing workforce.

New employees come equipped with current technical knowledge but lack other aspects of succeeding in the organisation that are expected by employers, David Smith wrote in the Harvard Business Review.

While employers perceive the new talent as overwhelmed by the “real world,” employees feel unchallenged. What is missing is work-relevant training that encourages an employee to understand the business of your business, he adds.

Developing your entry-level staff is absolutely necessary

We are often asked, “What if we train our people and they leave?” The more important question is, “What if we don’t train our people, and they stay?”

It’s a fact that the millennial generation do not have the same job commitment that the baby-boomer generation did. It is reported that over half of entry-level employees do not expect to stay at their first job for more than two years. The positive side of this is that it’s an opportunity for employers to make their mark as a company that’s willing to provide training opportunities and growth – a quality that will make your company more desirable and in turn, attract good talent.

Talent management expert Josh Bezrin wrote in a Forbes article: “Your ability to attract, develop, and retain young leaders will make or break your company in the coming years.”

“The way we move people around, the way we appraise people, the types of rewards we provide, and how we think about careers all need to change. Many of these changes throw sand in the gears of HR,” he points out.

Giving employees the right skills and training

IMG_0981Entry-level employees have the base skills necessary to do work in their field but they won’t come equipped with company-specific skills. While the tendency might be to expect employees to “figure it out”, the climate is changing and graduates are flooding towards jobs that offer formal training. As we mentioned earlier, gaining that competitive edge with an attractive development programme will increase your talent pool and encourage employees to stay. It will also get your team working towards the same company goals.

In a recent interview with Radio New Zealand, Debbie Francis, partner at PWC, said that employers felt that “less than 50% of their internal HR function was ready to meet this challenge”. But getting this HR team ready is one of the biggest steps towards developing this plan, she said.

How can you find (and fix) the skills gaps?

Working with individual businesses, we find that one of their greatest struggles is to identify and define roles and responsibilities.

By clarifying what a person’s role is and giving them key performance indicators, you can better decipher if they have the capabilities to do it, as well as defining how they fit into the larger company picture.

Jan Alley & Associates use a process called PIPE (Profit Improvement through Performance Enhancement) to define the flow from individual, to team, to company results. By clarifying what needs to be done and how to do it, we have found that companies have increased productivity, improved employee engagement, and job satisfaction.

This process will also identify where the gaps are in your company

From there you can create individualised training plans that will give your employees the necessary skills to succeed. While training is often perceived as expensive, cultivating an environment that encourages employees to stay will save you money by not having to replace individuals in the long term.

To have an open discussion about how our PIPE process can help you find the gaps in your employees skills set, and how to implement a better development program, give us a call on 09-579-8566 or email me.

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