Though no doubt many have been forced into it, more companies are training workers for positions that need to be filled, according to a survey by Accenture. In the poll of 400 executives at large U.S. companies across industries, 46 percent said they are feeling the impact of the STEM skills shortage — and that the skills gap is hurting business. For those facing or anticipating a shortage, 66 percent foresee a loss of business to competitors, 64 percent face a loss of revenue, 59 percent eroding customer satisfaction and 53 percent say they’ll face a delay in developing new products or services.
The biggest area of need is for IT skills (44 percent), followed by engineering (36 percent), R&D (29 percent) and sales (29 percent.) Data analytics is one area where companies are being forced to create the capabilities they need, often by building teams with a range of skills. In IT, opportunities for professional development can be a significant lure for job candidates.
Accenture found that 52 percent of workers are receiving formal training through their companies. That’s after training was slashed during the economic downturn. A previous report from the company found that just 21 percent of workers received employer-provided formal training between 2006 and 2011.
Nearly half — 46 percent – of the executives in Accenture’s survey said they’re concerned that they won’t have the skills they need in the next one to two years. The reasons: Forty-one percent said they can’t attract the right candidates, 38 percent would hire more people if they were getting qualified candidates, 26 percent can’t pay what candidates want and 19 percent didn’t anticipate the skills they’ll need. Meanwhile, 35 percent admitted that they have not invested enough in training, while 51 percent expect their company to increase training over the next two years.
The report offers advice for companies to boost their hiring success:
- Find a balance between formal and informal learning: Embedding learning in everyday work – shadowing others, mentorships or learning from peers through online forums or employee-produced podcasts – can help formal online or classroom training become more relevant and more effective.
- Embrace new ways to develop skills: Forty-two percent of respondents said they have added mobile delivery of training, while 35 percent use social media, massively open online courses (27 percent) and/or gamification (13 percent).
- Expand your candidate pool: Rather than focusing too closely on a specific set of skills, look at more general skills that can easily be developed to perform the job.
- Screen talent based on newly emerging data sources: Rather than scanning for key words on a resume, look for line samples of a candidate’s work, assessments that gauge a person’s cultural fit and motivations, and social media contributions that can reveal a candidate’s interests.
- Invest earlier in the talent supply chain: Leading companies are partnering with colleges and universities on curricula to ensure students have the necessary skills when they graduate. Others are setting up open training programs for specific regions, with first dibs on hiring the students.