Skills disrupted: bridging the talent gap

Traditionally desirable skills have been disrupted by rapidly evolving business needs, leaving a hole in the workforce that needs to be filled. These days, staying ahead requires a keen understanding of the evolving skills landscape and, with 72% of BCG’s respondents citing talent gaps as their primary concern, this has emerged as a top challenge for companies. As businesses grapple with this talent deficit, strategic recruitment and reskilling/upskilling existing resources have proven to be effective strategies.

This year’s survey results underscore the severity of the talent gap challenge. Nearly three-quarters of respondents, including people management professionals and other business leaders, highlighted people challenges and talent gaps as their most significant business challenge. Organizations need to address this issue urgently and proactively.

The skill disruption index: navigating the great disruption

To understand the pace of change in skills requirements, BCG created a Skill Disruption Index by analyzing millions of online job advertisements between 2016 and 2021. The Great Disruption, accelerated by the pandemic, demands swift action from employers and stakeholders to keep up with rapid changes.

Digital skills, soft skills, visual communication, and social media skills emerged as major trends in the evolving job landscape. Unsurprisingly, the primary driver of change is the impact of technology – but, perhaps counterintuitively, the disruption creates demand not only in technical fields but also for roles that are traditionally considered non-technical, such as marketing specialists, client support employees, writers, or HR managers.

Strategic mapping and planning: future-ready workforces

Successful companies recognize the importance of mapping their current workforce’s skills and job architecture. Stand out by aligning your workforce development strategy with your organization’s overall business strategy. By forecasting talent supply and demand in key areas, you can identify critical talent gaps and develop a comprehensive plan to address them.

The four-pronged approach includes acquiring new talent; upskilling and reskilling current employees; leveraging flexible, scalable, diverse staffing solutions; and automating processes with technology. The result is a transparent and cost-effective strategy that helps you avoid being caught on the back foot and eliminates the need for on-the-fly reactions to short-term disruptions.

Several factors can contribute to your success. First, a close link between the project and overall strategic planning will align your talent needs with the business’s future strategy. Second, embrace AI-powered tools for accurate forecasting, moving beyond traditional manual processes. Finally, build flexibility into the workforce plan to allow for ongoing assessment and adjustments.

Upskilling and reskilling: a core imperative for future-ready workforces

Despite ranking lower on respondents’ agendas, upskilling and reskilling are crucial for maintaining a future-ready workforce. Companies must continually update their profile of skills and capabilities to adapt to constantly changing business requirements.

Identify future skills needs, prioritize gaps, and tailor training programs for different roles. By using a 10/20/70 approach – 10% formal training, 20% exposure to new practices, and 70% on-the-job instruction – you can foster a culture of continuous learning. You’ll quickly see a significant increase in digital and sustainability skills, positioning your workforce for innovation and better understanding of customer needs.

How to navigate the moving target of talent and skills gaps

As skill profiles rapidly evolve, it’s essential that businesses hunt out talent with new skills while simultaneously reskilling, upskilling, and continuously training existing employees. Big data and analytics play a pivotal role in understanding how best to take aim at this constantly moving target.

The evolving world of work demands a strategic approach to talent acquisition and development. By proactively addressing talent gaps and embracing upskilling and reskilling initiatives, companies can build future-ready workforces that thrive in the face of disruption. The key lies in adaptability, innovation, and a commitment to lifelong learning.

You may also find our article on ‘Talent acquisition and retention priorities in 2024’ relevant, to read further.