Top 3 Tips on How to Close Skills Gaps

Today we're going to take a look at skills gaps. If you’ve been reading some of our blogs lately, you will have seen that we have been advising fellow businesses on how to make their mark on the industry in 2019 by adopting various tactics in order to maximise sales, optimise their ecommerce website, and remain compliant with important legislation.

However, it occurred to us that we are assuming that you have the requisite capabilities in order to achieve the aforementioned objectives. Skills gaps are no stranger to the business world, in fact, they can resurrect themselves frequently if they are not closed properly. Let’s face it, technology is constantly evolving, and each year it feels as though we businesses are battling against a new software update, a new marketing trend, or even a whole new product all together. Can you relate? If so, then you’re in the right place, because Hopewiser understand the trials and tribulations that firms of all sizes go through each year. But we also know how to overcome them, after all, we haven’t been going for nearly 37 years for nothing.

If you find yourself facing skills gaps, then you’re not alone, but it’s imperative that you act fast in order to remain competitive in the market. At the end of the day, if you don’t have the necessary skills to provide a quality service to your customers, we’re sure that there is a competitor or five lurking around the corner waiting to pounce. Luckily for you, we’ve created a guide on the top three ways to close skills gaps.

Business meeting

1. Hire Young People

You may recall our blog from last year, “Why Your Business Should Hire Young Talent”, however, for those of you who don’t, it explored a headline from DataIQ which stated, “70% of firms braced for data skills shortages this year”. The article went on to suggest that hiring young university graduates with a fresh, innovative outlook on the sector may be a solution for businesses to help to close skills gaps.

This appears to have been the case, as DataIQ revealed more recently that a skills gap in the digital sector has now narrowed but “more needs to be done”. According to the leader in data and analytics conversation, “The latest Deloitte Digital Disruption Index shows that 18% of digital leaders now believe school leavers and graduates are entering the workplace with the right digital skills and experience – up from 12% just six months ago”.

This is an impressive statistic, and it would seem that hiring young people is having an overall benefit on organisations’ personnel, as a quarter of the study’s respondents expressed that their current workforce has sufficient knowledge and expertise to execute their company’s digital strategy, increasing from 16% since 2018.

Hopewiser has been proud to employ school leavers and university graduates since the 90s, and 2018 saw the arrival of numerous fresh-faced individuals, eager to make a difference and help the firm succeed.

Ryan joined us in May on what started as a six month industry placement to supplement his Master’s degree in digital marketing, read more about his success story in an interview with the University of Salford.

As the summer continued, the company also opened its doors to sales graduates Stephanie, Rachael, and Robbie, as well as trainee support analyst, Rodrigo, and trainee test analyst, Alex. Each of them have come from varying academic backgrounds, but they all share the same passion for working hard and achieving to the highest of their ability.

Graduates

If you’re pondering over the idea of drafting young graduates into your workforce, but aren’t sure whether you’ll be the right match for each other, then perhaps consider hiring them on a fixed term contract and see where it goes from there. You may find that they prove essential to your business and can help you effectively achieve your goals in 2019. Even if it doesn’t work out, at least you can say you’ve tried, and you will have also helped the youth of today in gaining credible industry experience. No one will condemn you for that.

2. Invest in staff training

Another way of setting the wheels in motion on the road to closing skills gaps, is by investing in training your current workforce. As we said before, technology is constantly changing the ways in which we work, not to mention how we live our lives, so it’s vital that you keep your staff updated with the latest knowledge and skills on how to fulfil their job role effectively. Not only will this benefit your business in terms of bettering the services that you provide, but it will also help your colleagues with their own personal development.

According to freely available data from the Office for National Statistics, between January and September 2018, 10,767 employees in the UK received job-related training. The age group with the highest recorded level of training was 35-49 with 3,607 individuals. At the other end of the spectrum the lowest number of trainees by age group was 170, which fell into the 16-17 age category. It could be argued though that many people of this young age are still in full-time education, and therefore, may not be employed. This is further supported by the 18-24 age group, whereby 1,687 employees received training during 2018. This is not a surprising statistic, considering that a high proportion of this demographic will have left education (either graduating or bypassing university) and entered into employment.

Pie chart

Additionally, the fact that less individuals in the 18-24 category received training as opposed to the 35-49 group suggests that there was less of a need for the younger employees to receive training. This further supports our original argument for hiring young people, as more and more students are leaving education with the requisite knowledge to help close industry skills gaps. This could be in contrast to older demographics, whose learnt methods may be outdated, thus emphasising the need for more training.

A recent example of where Hopewiser saw an opportunity to build on one of their staff members’ skills was when we sent Office Supervisor, Gareth, to train in Management tactics at The Spectra Group in Altrincham. Gareth said:

“Having already trained in this subject area it was beneficial to receive a refresher course as it gave reassurance that I was fulfilling my job requirements to the best of my ability, and elaborated on my current knowledge. It was also helpful to hear of other people’s experiences, and we were able to take advice from one another to implement into our own job roles.”

Gareth

3. Outsourcing Technology

Lastly, another optimum way to close skills gaps in your company is by outsourcing technology. There are a number of reasons why skills gaps occur in the first place, and the list of reasons range from such things as a lack of tangible assets (such as your own technology), lack of industry knowledge, and competitor threats. Whilst this may be through no fault of your own, outsourcing technology can help to bridge gaps that may appear in your businesses infrastructure, meaning that you can focus on driving the firm whilst letting an industry professional take care of the more nitty gritty areas.

Take a moment to think about what areas in your business could do with some good old TLC. Perhaps you’re suffering from a data skills gap, and are worried about how compliant your company data is now that the new GDPR has come into effect? Whilst the GDPR was put in place to give consumers more rights over their personal data, businesses should see it as an opportunity to finally get their data in order. Considering that those organisations found to be in breach of the regulations could be liable to huge fines, it’s important to analyse the integrity of your data as soon as possible.

EU flag legislation

In December 2018, an article revealed that 50% of organisations are still not GDPR compliant, even though it’s been nearly 8 months since May 25th when the regulations came into force. What measures has your business put in place to ensure the compliance of the data you hold about your customers? If the answer is “I haven’t”, followed by the notion of you’re unsure how to do so, then maybe outsourcing a data cleansing expert will be the answer to your prayers.

Think about it, if neither you or your colleagues have the first clue on how to handle your data, outsource the right technology that will suit your business. A data cleansing provider can offer a bespoke service, also known as a Bureau service, that will tailor the cleansing of your data to your specification. This in effect will save you both time and money in the long-run, bypassing the need for purchasing new software and staff training when you could be training them in other areas. Did you know that business data decays on average by 37% per year, and consumer data by 13%? Cleaning your data regularly will help you keep your database accurate, not to mention compliant with legislation. If in doubt, outsource!

We hope that you have found this guide on how to close skills gaps helpful. Stay tuned for more blogs on how to help make your business more successful in 2019.

 

Sources:

https://www.dataiq.co.uk/news/70-firms-braced-data-skills-shortages-year

https://www.dataiq.co.uk/news/digital-skills-gap-narrows-more-needs-be-done

https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/datasets/jobrelatedtrainingreceivedbyemployeesemp15

https://eugdpr.org/

https://datacenterfrontier.com/50-percent-of-firms-still-not-gdpr-compliant-how-about-your-data-center/