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Human Capital Management

Mind the Double Skills Gap

Mind the Double
Skills Gap

Andy Campbell,
HCM Strategy Director at Oracle @axcampbe


Building a skilled workforce requires new employment strategies, but don’t forget what your experienced employees have to offer

Andy Campbell

Andy Campbell, HCM Strategy Director at Oracle

Today’s headlines would have you believe that there aren’t enough jobs available for young people. A recent report from the United Nations suggests global youth unemployment will hit 71 million this year. In some European countries like Spain and Italy, more than 35% of 15-24 year olds are looking for work but cannot find a job.

In reality the situation is more nuanced. There are many open roles out there but many young people simply don’t have the skills required in today’s job market.

 HR leaders are being challenged to think more like marketers to win the talent war.  

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, has seen businesses rethink the way they work and turn to new technologies like automation and data analytics to remain successful. However, these companies also need staff who understands how to get the most from these technologies.

Recruitment has become an arena of fierce competition in this environment, and HR leaders are being challenged to think more like marketers to win the talent war. Young professionals are increasingly likely to begin their job hunt by checking a “best places to work” list or visiting online platforms like Glassdoor for first-hand accounts of life with a prospective employer.

 HR therefore needs to help the company build a compelling employer brand to attract these prospects.  

HR therefore needs to help the company build a compelling employer brand to attract these prospects. While this demands a broadening of skills, it also presents an opportunity for HR teams to make their efforts more visible to the wider business and add measurable value in the boardroom.

Keep skills in the building

It might be tempting to think the focus is entirely on engaging younger workers, but this is only half the story.

At the other end of the age spectrum is a ticking time bomb with a 10 year fuse. Highly knowledgeable baby boomers are reaching retirement age, and their leaving risks creating a second skills gap with regards to the workforce’s overall experience.

 Historically, knowledge has walked out of the building each time a person retired, but today’s collaboration technologies make it easier for employees to work in multi-generational teams and learn from each other.  

The challenge is to ensure senior workers share their knowledge and expertise across the ranks, and that young workers have the competencies to carry the organization forward. Historically, knowledge has walked out of the building each time a person retired, but today’s collaboration technologies make it easier for employees to work in multi-generational teams and learn from each other.

Multi-age teams are vital, and are actually favoured by young employees. A McDonald’s survey found that young staff who work with people of various ages are 10 percent happier than those who work exclusively with colleagues of a similar age. It’s also worth noting that younger techy-savvy employees have unique skills of their own skills to impart to senior team members.

HR teams are being asked to cover new ground in this respect, and as a result the role has never more dynamic. If they can help the company overcome the impending skills gap on both fronts, HR leaders will continue to prove how vital talent management has become to the modern business.