Guider’s 7 Techniques to Close Skills Gaps in 2024

1 minutes

In Learning and Development, staying ahead means not just identifying skills gaps but actively closing them. Insights from LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report 2023 predict that 25% of skills are now redundant, a figure set to double by 2027. The urgency is clear. From this, Guider presents an actionable roadmap to navigate this challenge, ensuring your workforce remains agile, skilled, and ready for the future. Here’s how:

1. Understand why skills gaps occur

Skills gaps, referring to the disparity between the skills your workforce possesses and the skills your organisation needs to achieve its goals, can emerge from various sources. Recognising these causes is the first step toward bridging these gaps. Here are some key reasons that skills gaps occur:

  • Rapid technological advancements and AI
  • Evolving business needs 
  • Global expansion
  • Remote work 

Rapid technological advancements

The pace at which technology evolves, especially with AI, has significantly altered the skill sets needed in the workforce. Since 2015, the demand for expertise in emerging technologies has surged, leaving a gap between the skills employees currently have and those required. In the past year, conversations around AI have increased by 70%

Evolving business needs

As markets evolve, so do the strategies businesses employ to stay competitive. This evolution often requires new skills that the existing workforce may not possess, leading to a misalignment between employee capabilities and business objectives.

Global expansion

The expansion of businesses on a global scale brings immense opportunities but also presents challenges that can create skills gaps. Navigating different regional markets, cultures, and regulatory environments requires a diverse set of skills and knowledge. Globalization demands adaptability and a broad understanding of international business practices, often leading to gaps in local market knowledge and cross-cultural communication.

The rise of remote work

The increasing trend towards remote work, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has transformed the way organizations operate. While offering flexibility and access to a wider talent pool, remote work necessitates skills in digital collaboration, time management, and self-motivation. Additionally, it challenges organizations to maintain a cohesive company culture and ensure all team members, regardless of location, have equal access to learning and development opportunities.

2. Align L&D and organisational goals

To reduce the risk of skills gaps, it’s essential to ensure your L&D strategies directly support the overarching goals of your organisation. 

Misalignment 

When we refer to “misalignment” L&D and organisational goals, we often mean miscommunication of goals and objectives.  Businesses become exposed to shortcomings in skill development and, as a result, mistakes become more common and additional urgent training leads to rising costs. 

CIPD’s Learning at Work report stated that the top 5 organisational goals in 2023 were:

  • Achieving growth targets
  • Reducing costs
  • Increasing productivity
  • Addressing skills shortages

Whereas the most common goals for L&D professionals in 2023 were:

  • Retaining staff 
  • Improving wellbeing
  • Succession planning
  • Increasing leadership capability

Realigning your objectives 

To mitigate this, L&D professionals must communicate and accurately demonstrate how their objectives align with the organisations future trajectories. L&D professionals should always know what metrics they intend to measure and how this will be translated into organsational forecasting. 

To provide an example:

Organisational GoalsL&D Professional GoalsAlignment 
Achieving growth targetsIncreasing leadership capabilityEnsuring our leaders are fully equipped with the skills to reach and exceed growth targets 
Reducing costsRetaining staff Retaining top talent will reduce costs in onboarding, training and development.
Increasing productivityImproving wellbeingAccuruately monitoring and improving employee wellbeing to increase both individual, team and organisational productivity 
Addressing skills shortagesSuccession planningCreating a sustainable, effective strategy for knowledge sharing to close skills shortages. 

3. Embrace Technology and AI

The digital age is here. LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning report 2024 demonstrates that 4 in 5 people want to learn more about how to use AI in their profession. At Guider, we believe that using AI to power human connections is the key to closing skills gaps, and keeping them that way.

Upskill in AI

The surge in AI’s relevance across all sectors necessitates a concerted effort to upskill employees in both understanding and utilising AI technologies. This involves not only familiarising them with AI concepts but also providing practical training on how AI tools can optimise workflows, enhance decision-making, and foster innovation. By investing in AI education and training, organisations empower their teams to leverage AI effectively, ensuring they stay ahead in a competitive landscape.

Harnessing AI for your L&D objectives 

As mentioned, misalignments more often come from miscommunications. Demonstrating the effectiveness of your L&D strategies is crucial to align to the organisational needs and to gain repeatability of your successes. 

The best way to track and monitor L&D effectiveness is to leverage AI and new technologies for yourself. 

Align in real time 

Mentoring, peer learning or skill development software can simplify the complexities of programme management,  built to ensure visibility of your initiatives. With Guider  advanced analytics and reporting, you can access a wide range of metrics that help you demonstrate ROI and make data-driven improvements to your employee’s learning experience in real time. 

4. Identify skills gaps through staff input

To bridge the gap between current capabilities and future needs, organisations must actively engage their workforce in identifying skills gaps. This involves creating a culture of continuous, self-directed learning and leveraging technology to foster engagement and collaboration. Here’s how to make it happen:

Encourage continuous learning

Learning in the flow of work: Create an environment that values and encourages continuous learning. Utilise technology to provide accessible, flexible learning opportunities that allow employees to develop at their own pace and according to their own interests and needs.

Leverage Peer-to-Peer Learning: Encourage knowledge sharing among employees through structured peer-to-peer learning programs. This not only helps to close skills gaps but also builds a stronger, more collaborative team culture.

Use Technology to Drive Engagement: Implement digital platforms that facilitate the creation, sharing, and tracking of learning programs. These technologies can offer personalised learning experiences, recommend courses based on skill gaps, and track progress towards learning objectives to encourage more users into learning. 

Gaining feedback

Encourage Self-Reflection: Create channels for employees to reflect on their own skills and career aspirations. Encourage them to identify areas where they feel they could improve or where they have a keen interest in developing further.

Collect Feedback on Learning Needs: Use anonymous surveys and feedback tools to gather insights into the skills employees feel are lacking within the organisation and what learning resources or courses they believe would be beneficial.

Formalise Feedback Mechanisms: Implement formalised programs and platforms to collect, manage, and analyse survey data accurately. This structured approach ensures that feedback is systematically gathered and acted upon, leading to more effective skills development initiatives.

5. Personalise learning experiences

Customise learning paths to meet the unique needs and aspirations of each team member. This approach fosters engagement and ensures that training is relevant and impactful.

Personalisation drives engagement 

Engagement in learning initiatives comes from personalising learning to the individual. Ensuring that your workforce can learn what they want, when they need it will improve user engagement in your initiatives. 

Guider’s personalised learning experience 

At Guider, we believe in choice-driven development. Our algorithm sorts mentors by compatibility in terms of skills, experience level and goals set. But at the bottom line, our mentees have the freedom to make their final choice. This balance between algorithmic matching and personal preference enhances engagement and ensures mentees are invested in their growth.

6. Create targeted programmes 

Integrating Learning and Development (L&D) efforts to directly address skills shortages and gaps is vital for any organisation aiming to thrive in today’s fast-paced environment. This strategy involves a collaborative effort across departments, leveraging L&D expertise to design targeted programmes that address specific needs. To effectively implement these programmes, it’s crucial to understand your current L&D metrics and align them with both the short-term and long-term goals of the business.

Personalise your programmes

Ensure that the feedback you receive from your workforce is reestablished into your future programmes. This alignment helps to ensure your workforce knows you are prioritising their learning outcomes that not only address individual development needs but also contribute to achieving business goals.

Targeted DEI programmes

At Guider, we encounter businesses with many DEI related challenges. Our experts help you to identify these challenges and create a bespoke programme to gain visibility, track and resolve them over time. 

Here’s an example: 

Identified challenge: Reduced representation of minorities in senior positions.

Objective: To enhance well-being and skills metrics across our workforce of people of colour (POC) with a targeted programme that includes all POC employees and any employee resource groups.

Method: Implement a comprehensive DEI programme focusing on unconscious bias, inclusive leadership, and career development planning. Supplement this with mentorship programmes pairing POC employees with senior leaders to facilitate knowledge transfer and professional growth.

Long-Term goal: Achieve a sustainable increase in the representation of diverse groups in senior positions year on year.

After implementing a targeted programme with Guider, Reed saw a 500% increase in sign-ups and are markedly closer to reducing the disparity of women in technology.

Targeted leadership development programmes

Identified challenge: Skills gaps identified in leadership capabilities affecting individual and team performance and well-being (evidenced by increased sick leave and burnout rates).

Objective: To accurately assess leader skill levels, confidence, and well-being, and provide personalised self-development pathways for improvement.

Method: Develop a leadership development programme that includes assessments, workshops, and coaching sessions focused on critical areas such as emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, and strategic thinking. Utilise L&D metrics to track progress and adjust the programme as needed.

Overall Goal: Improve productivity and support the achievement of growth targets through enhanced leadership capabilities.

7. Create a future-ready workforce

Investing in your workforce 

Develop essential soft skills

Communication: As the top skill demanded in job postings, mastering effective communication is critical. It enhances teamwork, client relations, and problem-solving. Investing in communication training can pay dividends in operational efficiency and conflict resolution, making it a cornerstone for a future-ready team.

Adaptability and resilience: Equipping your workforce with the ability to adapt to change and bounce back from setbacks is more important than ever. Provide resources that encourage flexibility, creative thinking, and a positive attitude towards change. This ensures your team can navigate the uncertainties of the future with confidence.

Emotional intelligence: High emotional intelligence leads to better teamwork, leadership, and customer interactions. Encourage practices that increase self-awareness, empathy, and emotional regulation. These skills are invaluable in creating a supportive and productive workplace environment.

Check out Guider’s 10 non-negotiable mentoring skills you need for 2024

Celebrate success and learning

Milestone recognition: Acknowledge and celebrate the completion of training programmes, successful project outcomes, and personal growth achievements. This recognition reinforces the value of continuous learning and encourages others to pursue their own development paths.

Create a learning culture: Sharing success stories and learning experiences in team meetings or company-wide platforms can inspire others and highlight the tangible benefits of personal development and targeted programmes. This inspiration ensures longevity and continued engagement in your initiatives.

Closing comments 

Adapting to the future to mitigate skills gaps requires more than just technological readiness; it demands a workforce skilled in communication, adaptability, emotional intelligence, and creative problem-solving.  By following these 7 essentials, you’re not just preparing for 2024; you’re setting the stage for a future where your organisation thrives through empowered, skilled, and adaptable teams. Let’s make 2024 the year of unparalleled growth and learning with Guider.

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