The skills shortage has been a problem since the dawn of the modern corporate system. Both companies and employees have not been able to keep pace with the rapid changes in almost every industry. The lack of skilled staff can obstruct or even stop some long-standing operations.
 
Many manufacturing-related jobs that require a highly specific skillset are going unfilled. This situation is the result of an entire generation heading towards retirement without passing on their skill-set to younger generations.
 
With a skills shortage, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Here are the four main ways to prevent and address a skills shortage:
 
1. Focus on Your Existing Employees
 
The people employed at your firm are already familiar with its culture, regulations and expectations. They know each other and have developed a sense of belongingness to their workplace. If they also feel that the organization invests in employees by upgrading their skills regularly, then they might not have a reason to leave. Investing in training and development can help increase the overall capabilities of an employee and their level of job satisfaction. One creative way to develop a junior employee is to pair them with a senior one to learn new skills in a hands-on fashion.
 
Author Ankit Sharma is a 2019 40 Under 40 honoree. He owns Kitply, a Vancouver-based wood products company.
2. Build a Talent Pipeline
 
This strategy is considered to be the best when it comes to preventing a skills shortage happening in the first place. The idea is to create a pool of talent, within your organization, that will be used to fill positions in the future. This pool of skilled individuals can be acquired in many ways – one of which is through an internship program.
 
3. Introduce a Referral System
 
An employee referral system helps to land the most suited talent for a particular job since existing staff are likely to recommend someone they know shares the same value system. This approach can also increase the overall employee engagement and give them a sense of importance at their workplace.
 
4. Re-examine the Hiring Criteria
 
Organizations often have stringent and unrealistic hiring criterion. Finding the ‘perfect fit’ of skills, talent, and values for the role can be more difficult and expensive than hiring people based on their potential and attitudes. Relaxing some less important criteria such as educational background will get you a diverse workforce that can manage different tasks and develop additional skills over time.

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