The role of HR in combating a widening skills gap

3 min read

Human Resources teams have a crucial role to play in ensuring their organisation doesn’t suffer at the hands of a growing skills gap - what steps can be taken to prepare and protect against this detrimental trend?

Less talent means less growth

A significant mismatch between skills available and what is needed to help organisations grow already exists in the UK and has been augmented by Brexit with less overseas professionals risking a move. This has directly resulted in a significantly limited pool of skilled individuals, particularly across IT and technology.


Many businesses have made addressing the skills shortage a priority, and those that don’t address the issues will suffer sooner than they may anticipate. Away from hiring externally, companies should be utilising their existing workforce by investing in development and training programmes. Continual support of employees should be frontlined by HR and L&D teams - there are numerous long term benefits that include improved retention rates and boosted productivity.

Creating the next generation of leaders

The most noticeable crisis seems to be at the management level, with research showing that the professionals of today lack leadership skills. If you can identify employees who you think will make strong leaders, it’s important to invest in their future - professionals move roles much more frequently now than in recent decades, so in order to get commitment from employees, organisations must commit to their futures. Exposing the more junior level employees to a variety of work at an early stage in their career means you can build leadership into their working patterns and increase their confidence.


For example; Lloyds Banking Group has implemented a 30-day  ‘development’ challenge to instill a desire for leadership across their workforce, resulting in greater motivation, improved productivity and 7,000 potential leaders being trained.

Encourage employees to upskill themselves

Having the opportunity to undertake personal development is a popular benefit sought after by professionals when they are considering a new role - it can also act as a powerful retention tool. By offering employees a few days each year when they can undertake training courses relevant to their role, they will look favourably on the organisation for supporting their professional development. In turn, the company will reap the benefits of having staff members with improved skill sets.

Make sure your focus is internal

Due to the difficulties of sourcing and onboarding professionals for manager level roles, the best step you can take is to consider the resources you already have - your existing employees. Whilst this does mean that you need to plan well in advance, if you install the right practices and retain these individuals, your organisation will be generating a long line of leaders who could all slot into a senior level role when a position needs to be filled. If they have been with your organisation for a long time, they will know all processes and fellow staff members.