Filling an internal skills gap as a small business

skills gap

The knowledge that your business possesses a skills gap can be a frustrating situation for SMEs, for those in technical industries there’s the additional pressures of finding a candidate with the necessary qualifications and standards for the field.

How can you as a smaller sized company work to fill these gaps internally?

The initial stages of filling a skills gap tend to be set in stone, start looking for someone with the required knowledge and experience. But the recruitment process can be long, costly and results in another wage packet to send out every month. Working on a case by case basis there are many businesses who simply can’t afford the additional employee, even if they are the missing puzzle piece to complete your skills set.

At Professional Academy we deliver a number of business qualifications and apprenticeships to help businesses just like yours plug the hole, here are some of our recommendations for SMEs to consider:

Take on an apprentice

Apprenticeships are one option, externally or from within – There are many misconceptions surrounding apprenticeships and the profile of the apprentices who hold these positions.

To start with, those over the age of 25 are more than welcome to become an apprentice, there’s no cut off point, there are changes in the funding options but the total cost remains much lower than recruiting an employee while the skills will be delivered in time.

Another inaccuracy is the belief that an existing employee can’t decide to take on an apprenticeship to learn while working. Having someone you already know and (hopefully) like become an apprentice ensures your company is investing in the team while helping propel the business forward.

Up skill through professional qualifications

We see thousands of businesspeople develop their skills which can lead to the business earning back their investment with time. If you have a specific skills issue, chances are there’s a course out there to provide the necessary tuition to close the gap.

Enrolling an employee onto a qualification program doesn’t mean you are left with a man down while they learn, while workshop sessions are available just as popular are in-house sessions delivered to groups or distance-learning.

Tap into the graduate market

Thousands of university students graduate each year, while this option lacks experience they do have a solid base to build upon. Looking for first class graduates or two-ones can present you with a variety of candidates to choose from.

Most will have some degree of work experience from their time studying, once you clear through the riff-raff, providing someone with their first opportunity can make it easier when it comes to wage negotiations.

Outsource, when possible

If there’s a stage where you truly feel unable to cope with the sheer amount of work that’s sitting in the to-do pile, left to fester thanks to a lack of employees with the skills to take it on maybe it’s time to consider outsourcing.

You could work out a two-way system that benefits both companies, you provide them services in return for the work they’re taking from you, or, more traditionally, you could decide to simply pay for their services. Whichever route you pursue, the weight being lifted from your shoulders should feel more than enough a reward.

Employee coalitions

What one staff member can’t solve another can, in certain situations there may be times where a certain skill gap can be filled by the joint effort of two or more employees. This isn’t the most effective method of filling the gap but if you’re lucky enough to have the right employees it can save money in a tight spot.

No matter the industry you operate in, the current recruitment market has placed businesses around the world into a situation where there simply aren’t enough skilled workers for the amount of positions available.

Whatever method you pursue to close a skills gap the most important thing is that you are taking steps in some form to creating a team of wide-ranging backgrounds and skills who can tackle any unexpected tasks at short notice without leaving you out of the loop.

Michael O’Flynn, Sales & Marketing Director at Professional Academy