The Missing Ingredient to Closing the Skills Gap

We know youve heard it already. Employers around the world find themselves facing a severe shortage of skilled talent. While some still debate the validity of the so-called skills gap, the data strongly suggests it is very much a real issue particularly in industries like manufacturing and technology.

According to the 2015 Skills Gap Report by the Manufacturing Institute, for example, 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled over the next decade, but its expected that 2 million of those positions will go unfilled. Thats an enormous gap.

In the technology sector, 71% of organizations are having difficulty finding people with adequate math and technology skills, and in fact, most highly competitive industries these days are struggling with filling open headcount.

So this begs the question, how do organizations solve the skills gap problem? Heck, is there even really a solution?

We think the only solution to beating the skills gap is learning content.

A large number of companies have tried to beef up their recruiting efforts in order to attract more talented candidates, but this unfortunately is doomed to fail. As you can see from the chart below, job openings have simply outpaced recruiters abilities to fill those positions in a timely manner.

The Missing Ingredient to Closing the Skills Gap

Furthermore, recruiting top talent from the outside quickly becomes prohibitively expensive, especially in a post-recession economy. As a long-term solution, recruiting simply isnt a financially viable answer to closing the skills gap.

So you probably know what we are going to suggest you do somehow find a way to leverage and upskill the talent you already have, right? Youd be getting warmer, but most companies today already have some type of training strategy in place and yet theyre still struggling to get the right talent in the right jobs. Theyre missing something but what?

The missing ingredient

The key ingredient to closing the skills gap is content. While training departments are worrying about adopting learning systems and ensuring theyre tracking course completions, building effective learning content to fuel those systems isnt something many organizations have fully figured out.

Any director of training or instructional designer can build an eLearning course, and then push it out to a likely unreceptive learner audience but this alone doesnt build skills or change behaviors. The traditional course doesnt meet the needs of the modern learner because its simply too much, and often irrelevant, information (for more on this topic, check out this blog that Brandon Halls Chief Strategist Michael Rochelle penned).

The key is to create short, bite-sized content that helps someone immediately do their job better, or improve their skills so they can take on that particular position youre struggling to fill.

Caterpillar is actually a great example of an organization that has put tremendous thought into their learning content strategy in an effort to reduce the time to competence for their employees and overcome the skills gap.

They have broken down their learning into bite-sized chunks that are easily searchable and can be delivered to a learner anywhere they are and on any device. This approach is helping them reduce the time it takes their technical workers to reach a level of advanced proficiency from 14 years down to five. If you want to hear how Caterpillar specifically closes skills gaps, check out this recorded webinar here.

In the end, organizations themselves are the ones responsible for closing skill gaps. Relying on recruiting alone is far too costly to counter the problem. Learning is absolutely the solution, but most organizations overlook the most critical component, and that is the actual learning content ovide to your employees. If you bake that missing ingredient into your learning recipe, youll be well on your way to developing the talent you need to stay in business for years to come.

Xylemes learning platform helps organizations create and manage more effective learning content so they can close skills gaps and increase employee performance. For more information, visit or Contact Us.

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