Identifying your company’s skills gaps – where to start

Successful recruitment and workforce management isn’t about reacting to immediate capability gaps as they arise. It’s about being proactive and working to a carefully planned recruitment strategy, which involves identifying skills gaps before they become a major issue. If you’re unprepared, your business could suffer.

Planning ahead to mitigate skills gaps has never been more important for businesses within the IT, digital and technology sectors. Research from the Open University, entitled ‘Bridging the Digital Divide’, found that a huge 88% of organisations admit that they have a shortage of digital skills.  This negatively impacts everything from growth and productivity to efficiency and competitiveness. The shortage of digital skills is harmful for the UK as a whole too, costing the economy up to £63 billion a year.

How to conduct a skills audit

To give yourself a crystal-clear picture of your organisation’s digital skills capability and to identify gaps, you need to conduct a skills audit. The results will give you a solid foundation for a recruitment strategy which fills gaps and plans out a pipeline for sourcing talent in the future.

Here’s where to start:

  • Seek expert advice. If time is short and you don’t have the expertise or resources to carry out an effective and thorough skills audit, it’s best to bring in the experts. You could simply get advice from a digital recruitment expert or bring a specialist service to carry out the audit for you.
  • Get management and your staff on- A successful skills audit needs time and money behind it, and it also needs the whole team on side. Reassure everyone that all data is secure and confidential, and that no jobs are at risk (quite the opposite).
  • Create a competency framework. This will include all of the skills, knowledge, experience and attributes needed to carry out each role effectively.
  • Create a survey. A questionnaire is the first stage of gathering data. You’ll need a list of roles within the organisation and a corresponding list of skills needed for each role. Crucially, it should aim to ask insightful questions which produce tangible, easily comparable results.
  • Conduct one-to-one interviews. It’s important to talk to your team individually about their skills, training requirements and development needs. The results of each meeting will supplement your survey results.
  • Collate and analyse the results. With all of the data collected, you should find it easier to identify skills gaps and the need for in-house training. You can use this vital information to create a short and long-term strategy for opening new roles, recruiting new talent and developing existing staff.

Furthermore, has some useful advice to bear in mind:

“Conducting a skills audit is a multi-step process which requires time and effort. Collaboration with HR departments can be crucial in creating a competency framework will help guide employees on an organisation’s values and its requirements for achieving its objectives. Maintaining clear communication throughout the process will also ensure that employees responding to the skills audit questionnaire are kept in the loop.”


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles @

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