Addressing Skills Gap With Training: How Can You Make It Work

The labor industry grapples with an expanding skills deficit, posing a significant risk to the nation’s enduring economic well-being. The labor force needs more qualified individuals to meet the escalating demand for high-skill positions.

Given that a top-tier workforce remains the paramount factor in determining business triumph, the issues associated with securing top talent can significantly impact an organization’s competitive edge in the present and future.

Employers must strive for a world-class, highly skilled workforce to tackle the skills deficit. Achieving this goal demands recruiting from nontraditional labor sources, providing comprehensive employee training, fostering partnerships with educational institutions to enhance graduate employability, and engaging in global competition for exceptional talent.

This guide outlines actionable steps employers can follow to implement these crucial practices.

Identify Untapped Talent Sources

To confront the current talent shortages, employers should explore nontraditional and increasingly diverse talent reservoirs, including the following:

Seasoned professionals

Older workers constitute a valuable talent pool for organizations today. With decades of experience and skill development, mature employees offer a wealth of knowledge.

Second-chance hirees

Recruiting individuals with prior criminal records is gaining momentum. Although candidates with criminal histories often face extra scrutiny during the hiring process, numerous HR professionals, managers, and employees are open to working with and hiring individuals with such backgrounds.

This approach can be a significant source of talent for forward-thinking organizations.

Differently-abled individuals

Companies that successfully integrate candidates with disabilities into their workforce often experience benefits such as increased revenue, higher net income, reduced turnover, lower recruitment costs, enhanced productivity, and improved customer engagement. Employers should make it a central part of their hiring strategy to include people with disabilities.

Global talent pool

Recruiting international workers can be highly advantageous, especially for specialized roles that could remain vacant for an extended period if limited to domestic candidates. Tapping into a global talent pool can substantially enhance an organization’s skill set.


Employers who actively attract and hire veterans often discover that these individuals outperform other employees and have longer organizational tenures. Veterans offer unique experiences and skills to the workforce, making them invaluable assets for companies looking to enhance their talent pool.

Revamp Your Recruitment Approach

To avoid the costs associated with a poor hiring decision, recruiters, HR professionals, and hiring managers frequently flag potential concerns in resumes, such as age, criminal history, disabilities, and immigration status. To ensure that you don’t overlook talented individuals, adopt the following practices:

Emphasize qualifications

When reviewing resumes and job applications, concentrate on the qualifications, skills, and abilities necessary for the position. Older workers often bring decades of experience, expertise, and well-honed skills. At the same time, veterans possess highly transferable qualities like leadership, teamwork, and meticulous attention to detail, which can be valuable to most employers.

Recognize intangible qualities

Look beyond the obvious and acknowledge non-tangible skills a candidate may possess, such as determination, loyalty, a drive to succeed, and a strong sense of purpose. Seek out signs of passion and a willingness to learn.

Encourage personal narratives

Offer applicants opportunities to share their stories. You can encourage them to include cover letters, pre-recorded video interviews, or short questionnaires. These tools allow candidates to express themselves more fully, providing a more comprehensive picture of their potential.

Redefine diversity

Expanding your perspective on diversity is vital. Beyond the usual considerations of race and gender, explore socioeconomic diversity, age diversity, and other factors. A holistic approach to diversity can uncover a broader range of talent.

Embrace career changers and nontraditional candidates

Instead of dismissing resumes from career changers or unconventional candidates, assess the skills and experience they’ve gained through previous jobs or other life experiences. Adapt your thinking to recognize the value that diverse backgrounds and career trajectories can bring to your organization.

Streamline Your Hiring Procedures

In addition to reevaluating how you assess resumes, refining your hiring processes is essential to ensure you get all the skilled talent. Here are some important suggestions:

Target relevant qualifications

Focus your job advertisements on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the role rather than emphasizing unnecessary criteria like education or extensive experience. Ensure that your ads welcome all interested candidates and express hiring preferences without discouraging any particular group from applying.

Make your careers website accessible

Ensure that your organization’s careers website is user-friendly for individuals with disabilities. This includes features like screen readers, easy navigation, and accessible content, making it inclusive.

Review application software

Regularly assess your application software to ensure it recognizes resumes of qualified individuals who could contribute to your team.

Examine rejected applicants to identify potential hires who may not have noticed by screening algorithms. Adjust software keyword filters to recognize synonyms for standard job titles and skills, as job titles can vary widely for similar work experiences.

Provide candidates a voice

Allow qualified job applicants the opportunity to explain why they are the best fit for your job opening. Understanding an applicant’s background and motivation is crucial.

Ask questions like, “What skills do you possess that make you an ideal candidate for this position?” Invite them to include any relevant training they’ve received, whether on the job, in college, through military service, seminars, reading, or other related work experiences.

Remove unnecessary barriers

Eliminate obstacles such as mandatory criminal history checks or pre-employment tests when they aren’t essential and have the potential to exclude qualified candidates. Some jurisdictions have implemented “ban-the-box” laws that postpone inquiries about a candidate’s criminal history until after an interview or a provisional job offer.

Leverage specialty resources

Use niche job boards and specialized tools to actively seek out and recruit from various candidate backgrounds. Consider collaborating with organizations to support your efforts in recruiting, hiring, keeping, training, and promoting individuals with disabilities.

These partnerships and resources can significantly enrich your talent pool while fostering inclusivity and diversity within your workforce.

There are job boards for recruiting a workforce that spans various age groups, promoting age diversity in your team. These resources expand your talent search beyond traditional channels.

Establish or Expand Training Initiatives

Employers should explore partnerships with local educational institutions, technical schools, and certificate programs. These collaborations offer the advantage of supplying employers with a pool of applicants actively acquiring the skills needed for the job.

To further enhance the quality of applicants from these programs, consider providing them with relevant materials, examples, or case studies from your organization. This results in candidates who are better acquainted with your company and ensures a better fit.

The more information and support you offer to these programs, the more effectively they can align with your specific needs, ultimately leading to candidates better suited for your organization.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)-registered apprenticeship programs adhere to national standards for registration with the DOL or an approved state apprenticeship agency.

Businesses registering their apprenticeship programs with the DOL can access several benefits, including a nationwide network of expertise and support at no cost, potential tax credits in many states, and access to funding and other resources from federal programs.

This can significantly bolster your training and development efforts while contributing to a highly skilled talent pool.

man standing in front of people sitting beside table with laptop computers
Addressing Skills Gap With Training: How Can You Make It Work 7

Image by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

Address Skills Gap By Investing in Your People

Concerns of a looming recession mark this unique economic landscape. Yet a persistently competitive job market. Organizations must seek more focused strategies to bridge their skills gaps in this environment, where training budgets may face increasing constraints. The approaches detailed above offer a path for companies to discover tailored learning programs that best serve the needs of their employees. Organizations can adapt to the evolving workforce demands by adopting these approaches while optimizing their training investments.

Featured image by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

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