How To Identify Skills Gaps in Your Business

Graham du Plessis

Posted: November 7, 2023

Table of Contents

Despite some 77,000 jobs being available in South Africa, employers are struggling to fill them – because nobody has the right skills to do them. This often forces companies to look for talent overseas, and to date, some 300,000 local jobs have been outsourced to foreigners. Deloitte predicts that unless the problem is urgently addressed, labour and skills shortages will be business’ biggest disrupters in the coming year.

One way to address the issue is for companies to do a skills gap analysis and then actively pursue practical ways to close these skills gaps and get more South Africans to work. Here’s how. 

How To Identify Skills Gaps

Once you’ve identified the skills gaps in your business, it will guide you toward the areas of training and hiring you should focus on. Follow these steps to get a clear picture: 

  1. See what shortages there are across industries

An important first step is to look at the prevailing skills shortages in South Africa. Recent research by Career Junction shows the biggest shortages are in the tech and financial sectors, but there are gaps across other industries, including health, marketing, design, media and arts, business and management, and engineering.

Soft skills are equally important to be competitive in the tech age. According to ManpowerGroup, the human/power skills companies need to train their employees in urgently are critical and analytical thinking, self-awareness, problem-solving, creativity and innovation, resilience, and adaptability. Learn them here

  1. Talk to your leaders and managers

Conduct surveys and discussions with people in leadership and management positions – they are most likely to know exactly where the talent shortages are that prevent them from meeting their current and future goals. Before this happens, team leaders should talk to their co-workers to get an on-the-ground feel for where they need help and whether upskilling or hiring new talent will solve the problem. 

  1. Do a skills gap analysis

Running a skills gap analysis will help you identify the skills needed to meet your business objectives. It should be done regularly as part of a talent audit, but also when:

  • There’s been a change in an employee’s responsibilities
  • You need new skills for a new project
  • You’re not meeting your business goals
  • You’ve changed your business strategy
  • You start using new technologies
  • Your business is scaling up or down

A skills gap audit should be done both on the individual and team level to determine whether interventions such as training, mentoring, or succession planning will fill the gaps or whether you need to employ more people. 

A basic outline of a skills gap analysis for businesses

Start by listing your business objectives and key outcomes – from high-level business goals to more granular objectives. Consider trends in your industry and new roles and responsibilities that may become essential to your company’s future growth. 

Map different roles to the objectives and desired outcomes and consider the skills needed to attach to each of the roles. Then, rate the skill level you need for each role and how urgent the need for each skill is. 

For example, you may have a full contingent in your finance department, but none are versed in FinTech, which is an area you’re keen to enter. Or, your marketing team is performing well, but you need someone who is up to date on the latest digital marketing practices to reach your sales targets. 

Looking at company data (KPAs, annual performance reviews, 360’s, and technical assessments), how many of the required roles that you’ve mapped are already in place among your employees, and how well do they perform these skills? Digging through these points could show that you have the right people, but some need upskilling in the latest industry best practices, or it could reveal that you need to start recruiting new talent. 

Addressing the skills gaps

Once you identified where the skills gaps are, it’s time to map out how you will close them. 

  1. Form partnerships with leading ed-tech institutions that can help you identify courses that address specific skills gaps. 
  1. If the skills gaps are short-term but require deep or advanced competencies, consider outsourcing them to freelancers, consultants, or agencies.
  1. Mentorships, internships, apprenticeships, and job shadowing are useful for SMEs that don’t have a big L&D budget. 
  1. Take a more in-depth approach to hiring by asking candidates to do a skills assessment test and focusing job ads on the knowledge, skills, and abilities required rather than education or experience.
  1. Ensure every employee has a Personal Development Plan (PDP) that includes how they will improve their skill set – from soft skills needed to perform at their best to new hard skills required by changes in the industry.
  1. Capture each employee’s skills (hard, soft, and those acquired in the workplace and out) and store the information under an employee skills profile where it can be easily referred to and updated.

Close the skills gaps at your company with MasterStart

MasterStart SA not only provides skills advisory services, but we distribute a range of online short courses that help companies close existing skills gaps.

Our courses are backed by leading business schools and universities, and we deliver knowledge through humanised learning – learning that’s intentional, supported, social and where learners connect to more than just information.

Contact us to find out how we can upskill and develop your teams and prepare your business for a robust, resilient and prosperous future. 

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