Report

Closing the Skills Gap – IBM’s enterprise guide

Skills availability and quality are in jeopardy

The skills challenge will not dissipate; in fact, it’s increasing in severity. Global labor markets are only tightening, as unemployment rates continue to decline. Compounding the issue, new skills requirements continue to emerge, while other skills are becoming obsolete. And while digital skills remain vital, executives tell us soft skills have surpassed them in importance.

Amid all this, the half-life of skills continues to shrink, while the time it takes to close a skills gap has ballooned. As organizations scramble to meet their talent needs, many are making adjustments to their education and experience requirements just to fill roles. Organizations must find ways to stay ahead of skills relevancy.

How can organizations help close the gap?

In this report, we offer a roadmap to guide executives toward action to address this critical issue. Our recommendations are based on insights from multiple IBM Institute for Business Value research initiatives, including surveys of thousands of global executives representing multiple industries in dozens of countries, as well as performance benchmarking data from hundreds of organizations globally.

Through research and analysis, we discovered certain skills development tactics that have a strong impact on closing skills gaps. We have crafted a set of key recommendations that leverage the common principles of these tactics as a foundation: personalization at scale, increased transparency, and leveraging the ecosystem. These recommendations leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to assist organizations in closing skills-related gaps.

Which skills matter most?

Executives’ responses indicate workers require a blend of both digital skills and soft skills – also called behavioral skills – to be successful in the workforce. As we revealed in our 2016 report on global skills, “Facing the storm,” executives have placed a high value on digital skills. In fact, the report indicates that six in ten cited fundamental and advanced technical capabilities in math, science, and computing as their most sought-after workforce capabilities. Our latest research reveals that a shift is occurring; executives’ views regarding the priority of critical skills have taken a turn from digital and technical to behavioral. In 2018, soft skills dominated the top four core competencies global executives seek (see Figure 1).

Why the growing importance of behavioral skills? A number of factors are likely at play. The last few years have been marked by significant investment in technical skills. Indeed, entirely new areas of expertise, such as data science and machine learning, have saturated nearly every industry in a new business environment laden with powerful technology. While organizations still struggle to address gaps in technical skills, there have been signifi- cant efforts and investments to address these gaps at multiple levels to lessen the impact on organizations.

Executives are now tasked with continuously innovating and succeeding in this constantly evolving landscape. And they recognize that navigating it requires individuals who can communicate effectively, apply problem-solving and critical-thinking skills to drive innovation using new technologies, and draw and act on insights from vast amounts of data. It also calls for creativity and empathy, an ability to change course quickly, and a propensity to seek out personal growth. Expectedly, teamwork and organizational flexibility top executives’ list of most important attributes for successful innovation.

Three recommendations for closing the gap

1. Make it personal

2. Turn up the transparency

3. Look inside and out

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ The enterprise guide to closing the skills gap | IBM

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