A multi-faceted approach could be the best way to address the skills gap in the workforce.

Does your business have an extra $800,000 lying around? In practical terms, that's what the skills gap is costing businesses on an annual basis, according to CareerBuilder. When organizations are unable to fill the positions they need to operate in an efficient manner, that contributes to a host of additional costs.

This isn't an insurmountable issue. Employers that take a practical approach to the skills gap analysis with a holistic talent strategy can reduce the impact and cost of this challenge.

The Real Cost of the Ongoing Skills Gap

The limitation on calculating financial costs of open positions is that it only looks at the specific role and what work isn't getting done for each day the job goes unfilled. Other items to factor in are harder to quantify:

  • Employee Morale — Workers picking up extra shifts and tasks to cover vacant positions can become overwhelmed and stressed.
  • Work Productivity — It's simply not possible to maintain the same quality and output of work while a team is shortstaffed.
  • Employee Turnover — Mounting stress can lead employees to quit or resign in favor of employers with more balanced teams.

Knowing there is definite cost to a skills gap that leaves critical roles unfilled for any length of time is a good start, but employers must also develop actionable strategies to reduce these on-going revenue zappers.

Defining the Problem

One of the issues employers often face when approaching the skills gap is that solutions depend on perspective. Learning professionals might believe training is the solution. Compensation professionals might believe higher salaries are the answer. Recruiting professionals might believe better talent acquisition strategies are the way to go.

The starting point for addressing any skills gap, assuming there is one, is to define what it looks like for the specific business. Once a specific skills gap is identified, it's time to start taking steps to rectify the issue.

Implementing a Skills Gap Analysis

The approach an employer takes to combating a skills gap varies depending on industry, size and other factors. The best way to examine this is through real-life examples. According to Business Roundtable:

-Best Buy is working to bridge the opportunity gap by helping underserved youth receive technical training. While the number of jobs requiring technological skills continues to grow, the number of people being trained is not keeping pace, leading to a very apparent gap in talent availability. The business has helped more than 4.5 million youth with its local programs to gather those skills for use in future employment.

-Comcast uses an internal approach to help workers connect training with hands-on application, a common area where available skills might not match up with the needs of the employer. By using simulations and other practice opportunities, learners can cement critical skills and get up to speed faster to help the organization achieve its goals. According to its metrics, retention has improved by up to 30 percent in areas where this experiential learning has been implemented.

-Walmart takes a blended approach, supporting not only its internal staff but also local community initiatives. Its "Academies" training program teaches fundamental skills to entry-level associates and prepares them for leadership or tech-assisted roles. More than 225,000 workers are expected to complete Academies training in 2017. The well-known employer has also worked within the retail industry to help develop a credential designed to support retail worker skills development. RISE Up stands for "Retail Industry Skills and Education" and aims to help individuals gain valuable skills for current and future employment.

Employers are working internally and externally to identify and minimize any skills gaps that are hampering performance or preventing future success. In spite of the skills gap's ability to dominate headlines and garner attention, these and other firms are continuously working to solve the problem. These organizations are pushing against the perceived boundaries to create more opportunities for their workers and help recover potential lost revenue before it ever becomes an $800,000 problem.

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