Written on: 23 February 2022
Written by: Frances Hardcastle
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A skills gap analysis is a useful activity that can help you identify the skills you need to meet your team's business goals and shape your future training and recruitment strategy.
In this blog, we'll take you through what a skills gap analysis is, how to conduct one, and what to do with the information you gather to strengthen your team's performance.
A skills gap is the difference between the talents that you or your team currently have, and the abilities you need to achieve your future goals.
In the digital and tech sectors, skills gaps can emerge due to industry-wide trends such as rapidly evolving technology and competition from industry disruptors, or through organisation-specific issues such as staff departures, a shortage of specialists locally, and underinvestment in training.
Skills gap analysis is a tried and tested concept with roots in management theory. As a practical tool for workforce planning and team development, it is an equally useful exercise for team leaders and strategic directors alike.
A skills gap analysis can be used for a range of different purposes, including the following activities:
We consulted our resident HR superstar Matt Welch, and asked him to share his advice for conducting a skills gap analysis:
“There is no fixed way to do a gap analysis – there’s a whole range of approaches and templates that can be a good fit, depending on your goals. But whichever method you choose, there are a few key principles to keep in mind throughout.”
“The most important thing is to define the scope of the activity and identify what you want to get out of it,” Matt explains. “Once that’s clear, you’ll be able to focus on the skills and abilities that matter to you and your team.”
“When working through the skills gap analysis, it’s important to stay grounded and keep your constraints in mind,” Matt advises.
For instance, most marketing teams would like to be able to produce broadcast-standard video and custom animations for social media, but if your budget is limited to a Manager and Junior Marketing Assistant, this isn’t an achievable aspiration.
A more realistic skills benchmark could be the ability to customise existing animation templates in Canva and to undertake training in mobile video production to improve your team’s skillset.
“One of the biggest mistakes you can make on a skills gap analysis is assuming it’s a one-off task,” says Matt.
If you take a one-and-done approach, you’ll have a file full of ideas that ultimately don’t go anywhere. You need to ensure that evaluation is built in.
While doing your analysis, come up with actionable goals and plan to repeat the cycle so that you can measure your progress and update your objectives.
Starting a skills gap analysis can be a daunting prospect if you haven’t done one before, but by following a few simple tips, you’ll be able to break down the process into manageable steps and get maximum value from the exercise.
You shouldn’t try to cover everything all at once. Do you want to explore the current range of skills in your team and compare them to skills needed for a specific project, or do you want to look at development goals for individuals? The most effective gap analysis activities are those that concentrate on a particular area.
Before you can identify the skills gaps in your organisation, it’s important for you to ask yourself the following:
Consider your company's values, your USP, and where you might want to go in the near and distant future. Think of the skills your company might need in the coming months and years.
Methods such as SWOT Analysis and Root Cause Analysis can be useful at this stage.
You could also ask team members what skills they think they’re missing – on an individual and team level. Their views can prove an invaluable resource and involving others can help them feel invested in their future skills development.
Once you have a list of skill areas to audit, it’s time to start your analysis and map out your current skill levels. There are lots of tools and templates you can use to benchmark your current state, including Traffic Light Skills Audits and Self-Assessment Evaluations.
After determining where you are now, it’s time to look to the future and set some goals for where you’d like skill levels to be. Link these targets to your wider team objectives, so that it’s clear what an investment in each skill could achieve for the business.
When you’ve mapped out where you are and where you’d like to be, you need to turn insight into action and look for ways to enhance skills within your team.
When it comes to bridging a skills gap, there are a whole host of options for building skills in your team, ranging from free online training or highly targeted commercial short courses to established professional development programmes which target multiple skill sets, such as a workforce development apprenticeship.
Performing a digital skills gap analysis is an excellent way to identify training needs, map out career development, and create the team you need to fulfil your business goals. To find out more about workforce planning and professional development, take a look at our related articles: