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Employee Skill Development: What Skills Do They Need?

Employees switch jobs more often today than ever before. According to a study done by LinkedIn, recent graduates now change up to three jobs during the first five years after graduation. This is a trend that’s worrying a lot of businesses. Their top young talent aren’t afraid to switch jobs if a better opportunity to progress their career comes up.

Many companies are, as you can imagine, quick to blame the lack of loyalty by the younger generation. But the more likely cause is the fact that companies don’t provide enough growth opportunities that help their employees develop skills and shape the future direction of their careers.

Many companies still haven’t established an efficient strategy for career development planning. Even if it’s formally addressed, it’s usually more of a bureaucratic procedure than an actual plan that’s based on the needs of the employee and the company.

But Why is Employee Skill Development So Important?

According to a recent survey by Towers Watson, opportunities to learn and progress in a job was ranked as one of the top reasons why an employee would be drawn to a new organization.

Employees today have a good understanding of their career goals and are always looking for opportunities to grow and reach their potential. If their current employer doesn’t have sufficient employee skill development programs, they’ll start looking for one that does sooner or later.

This is especially true for the top talent on the market. People that are more driven to succeed will be the ones that are attracted to opportunities to grow the most, and these are the employees that are the most important ones for a company’s future success.

An added benefit of employee skill development is that it helps keep employees engaged and motivated over time. As long as there’s a clear plan to follow and goals to reach, an employee is much more likely to remain driven to improve. According to Gallup, employees who are engaged in the workplace are 27% more likely to report “excellent” performance.

Employees are the most important asset of any organization, so you need to protect and invest in them like you would any other asset. Skill development opportunities can contribute to better employee retention, as well as an overall increase in employee productivity.

If a company can take the time and allocate the resources to make sure each employee feels as if they have a place in the company’s future plans, this can not only help retain current employees, but build a reputation that attracts top talent from its competitors. But to start developing a comprehensive employee skill development planning strategy, companies must first identify the gaps between their business goals and the capabilities of their workforce.

Skills Gap Analysis

A skills gap analysis helps employers identify the difference between what the company needs to achieve its goals and what the current workforce can offer. This can help understand the biggest gaps that prevent the company from moving forward and fill them by either hiring new positions or aiding employee skill development.

Today, companies can utilize a learning management system that can make the entire process much easier. It can track numerous employee metrics such as skills, education, competencies and any previous or current training. These can then be matched with the company’s goals, which allow employers to establish a clear benchmark for different roles in the company.

With a learning management system, employers can define the areas in which additional training is needed, as well as those in which the candidate already meets the requirements. The software can help to not only identify gaps, but also effectively fill them. In fact, it can even serve as a platform for training and development, easily integrating multiple eLearning solutions, webinars, classes, conferences and much more.

Learning management systems even allow the scaling of employee development to the point of automation, where you can help close skill gaps in the entire organization instead of having to coach each employee individually.

However, before moving into the implementation of a learning management system, it’s important to understand what the most important skill sets are to develop in employees.

Which Employee Skills Should Organizations Focus On?

While it’s not difficult to see the benefits that professional development can bring to organizations, it’s important to understand the bigger picture of learning management, which consists of a few key areas.

There are a few essential capabilities that employees must continuously improve on in order to grow and progress their careers, and it’s up to the employers to make sure that all of these areas are incorporated into the learning process.

Industry Awareness

It’s easy to assume that industry knowledge is a given for an employee that’s already working in the company. After all, what could be a better way of understanding the intricacies and new trends in the industry than by being an active part of it?

Well, the truth is that keeping up with the new developments and trends of a specific industry can be difficult. Technology and best practices are shifting faster than ever, so even the most eager-to-learn employees sometimes fall behind if a learning management system isn’t properly implemented.

Incorporating workshops, industry-specific conferences and learning materials about new developments can all be effective tools in making sure that your workforce is ahead of the curve in your industry, instead of trying to catch up to what the competitors are doing.

Communication

Developing strong communication skills in the workforce is one of the toughest challenges organizations face, but it’s also something that’s essential to ensure that the company functions efficiently on every level.

From the day that a new employee joins the workforce, there has to be a clear strategy for how a company promotes and encourages communication between colleagues, as well as between different level positions in the company.

Having a system for effectively sharing information and then making quick adjustments according to feedback is essential. This system can not only reap huge benefits for the company, but make the workplace more pleasant for current employees, as well as more appealing to prospective candidates.

Technology

Finally, it’s easy to understand why a strong grasp on technology is important in almost any industry. No longer is it enough to have just the most basic of computer skills.

Today, companies must develop a strategy for keeping the technological proficiency of their employees up to date. Industry-specific software solutions are now a reality for most businesses, so there has to be a system in place for teaching the essentials of using that software quickly and effectively.

Luckily, software solutions are becoming more intuitive and easy to use each year, but that also means that software platforms are changing faster than ever before. As such, both the organizations and the employees must be ready to adapt quickly.

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