Learning & Development

Most Employers Don’t Understand the Skills (and Gaps) of Their Workforces

Years ago, the key resource available to many companies was their physical capital. In an industrial economy, the primary drivers of productivity and profitability were machinery and other equipment used in the production of goods. While workers needed to be competent enough to operate this equipment and reliable enough to show up for work, labor was otherwise largely a commodity. skilled workforce

The Value of a Skilled Workforce

In the modern economy, successful companies recognize that it’s their workforce that represents the most important driver of their productivity and profitability. Companies vie for top talent, because it’s these employees that will help them outcompete their competition and continue to innovate and skillfully react to a dynamic business environment and global economy.

Shockingly, new data collected by human capital research firm Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), collected from more than 1,300 HR and business executives across 80 countries, found that most companies don’t know the skills and capabilities of their workforce. Taken a step further, this means that companies don’t know the skill gaps their workforces face. Take a minute to think about this in the context of the previous reference to the industrial age and imagine a manufacturing company not knowing the capabilities and deficiencies of its equipment and machinery. It’s almost unthinkable. Yet the i4cp data suggests that this is the situation a majority of businesses they surveyed are in currently.

Businesses Fail to Understand Skills and Capabilities

Here are some of the specific numbers behind the study. Among the respondents to i4cp’s workforce readiness survey who represented organizations with 1,000 or more employees:

  • Only 12% consider upskilling or reskilling efforts in their organizations to be effective.
  • Only 15% indicate their organizations are highly effective at analyzing the gap between current workforce capabilities and future business requirements.
  • 27% believe LinkedIn knows more about their workforces than their organizations do.
  • 39% say it’s easier for their employees to find jobs externally than internally.
  • Most firms are not clear about what workforce readiness means and most leaders don’t know their role with respect to workforce readiness.
  • 43% of those surveyed don’t have a process for analyzing workforce readiness.
  • Just 10% of those surveyed reported having an employee skills database or inventory with profiles for all employees.

In the modern economy, a company’s people are its greatest asset; but surprisingly, many companies are woefully in the dark with respect to the skills and capabilities of their workforces. By extension, these companies are also woefully in the dark about the skills and capabilities their workforce lacks. The companies that will be best positioned to outperform their competitors are those that can identify the necessary skills to succeed in their industry and find and train a workforce that possesses those skills.