Talent Shortages in the Workforce Pool

Talent shortages are frustrating to employers but with 10 million unemployed in the United States, is there really a shortage of talent or are skills gaps the underlying issue? The conversation surrounding skills gaps is full of conflicting theories, but one thing is clear: they do exist and employers are capable of fixing the issue. Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder, surveyed more than 2,000 employers and estimated that 80% of them say they are concerned about skills gaps, but only 40% plan to do anything about it. As an employer, when you face hiring or promotion challenges within your workplace, where do you look for answers? If you’re not starting with the mirror, you’re starting in the wrong place.

Should I Invest in Growing My Own Workforce?

The short answer is YES. In order to reap the benefits of skilled employees, businesses must invest in talented professionals that have the basic skills required but need real-world experience to enhance their capabilities. One of the main reasons that employees leave their jobs is they don’t see any opportunities for promotion or growth. These departures create job vacancies resulting in risks with new hires that can be costly. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates the cost of a “bad hire” to be around 30% of the employee’s first year earnings. Many times, companies would rather gamble the cost of a new hire instead of investing in the cost of quality training, yet one is a quick fix while the other is a long-term solution. Businesses are familiar with the downside of constantly hiring but again, less than half are willing to take steps towards retaining solid talent. When employers know what to expect from their existing staff, they can shift their resources to focus on internal development, eliminating the risk – and cost – that comes along with constant recruiting efforts.

The foundation of any business or organization is only as good as the skills used to deliver the goods or services offered by them. Having considerable skills gaps will eventually begin to show, causing lapses in employee productivity and company reputation. Companies need to prioritize the importance of skills training. Investing resources in developing talent rather than fighting over the limits of the talent pool will drastically improve retention rates and save the company money on the unavoidable costs and resources associated with new hires. Employees see the value of a company that invests in them because they know that in doing so, the company is committed to creating a future for them.

Local, Real-World Examples

IN-HOUSE TRAINING TO BUILD EMPLOYEE SKILLS. Local company Powell’s Plumbing recognized a need for building up their staff’s training and experience. Through partnering with Laurel Ridge Workforce Solutions Corporate Training, Powell’s took part in a customized training program that brings in a licensed industry professional to provide in-house, hands-on training for employees that are working towards completing the first level of their plumbing apprenticeship. They used a workforce credential grant, FastForward, which helped the company save over $14k in training costs. FastForward is a short-term workforce training program where Virginians can earn industry credentials and certifications, all while gaining hands-on experience in an in-demand industry. The plumbing program through Laurel Ridge Workforce Solutions is a FastForward program so qualified students can save at least 2/3 of the cost of tuition. Powell’s is also looking forward to training other plumbers in the community, thus doing their part to help bridge the skills gap in the local plumbing industry.

A SHORTAGE OF SKILLED WORKERS CREATED THE NEED FOR A TRAINING PROGRAM. In Fauquier County, there was an overall industry need for skilled trades within the county and surrounding area. Businesses there recognized a skills gap, which led them to reach out to Laurel Ridge Workforce Solutions for help. As a result, a customized training program was created to help local businesses retain more qualified employees because they got the skills training they needed to help their businesses thrive. Reaching out to local entities such as community colleges is a great way to receive quality training at an affordable cost.

FRONTLINE SUPERVISION TRAINING FOR NEWLY PROMOTED EMPLOYEES. In another scenario, a local manufacturing company saw an increase in demand for their products. To satisfy that demand, they ramped up their production capacity by 70%, which drastically increased the need for workforce talent to not only operate the machinery but to also supervise all of the incoming new employees. As a result, undertrained employees were promoted due to longevity, which put a lot of people in positions that they weren’t quite ready for. In partnering with Laurel Ridge Workforce Solutions, a tailored program with a custom curriculum was created to help these new frontline leaders succeed through leadership and company culture training. This company made the decision to move towards a more employee-focused environment in order to quell the employee burnout and stress associated with rapid change. In turn, they satisfied a skills gap, developed new leaders, and improved company culture, all by implementing skills training.

In the end, businesses must accept more of the burden of training. Talent shortages are cut even shorter by skills gaps and building a skilled workforce lies in the hands of the employer. If employers aren’t willing to contribute to skilling, reskilling, and upskilling employees, then these self-inflicted skills gaps will continue to exist.