New Gartner research reveals urgent workplace skills gaps


Is upskilling a mission-critical priority for your organisation? New data from world-leading research and advisory company Gartner reveals 58% of the workforce need new skill sets to do their jobs effectively. 

For many organisations, addressing critical skill gaps is a key priority. HR leaders are finding it increasingly difficult to source and develop talent with the most in-demand skills. Technological disruption, the global pandemic and other rapidly evolving business trends have only accelerated this urgency.  

According to the data, the total number of skills required for a single role has increased by 10% year-on-year since 2017. In addition, one in three of the skills required for an average 2017 job posting in IT, finance or sales are now obsolete. 

If your organisation froze hiring in response to COVID-19, you’re not alone – 74% of organisations chose this path of action. Whether your organisation has begun hiring again or is still in a freeze, don’t overlook key talent on hand! Assess your current employees with skills closely matched to those in demand. Identifying skills adjacencies is an important first step to closing the gaps.

Garter suggests the following three key actions to address skills gaps. 


Gain better insights into employee skill sets

To leverage skills adjacencies, collect information about your current employees’ skillsets to map out secondary and tertiary upskilling potential. You could do this by examining employees’ key performance indicators (KPIs), conduct skills assessments, surveys or interviews. You could also empower and encourage managers and team members to maintain a portfolio of skills visible to your HR team. 

Obtaining an in-depth, comprehensive picture of your organisation’s current skills isn’t necessarily the objective. According to Gartner, many leading organisations collect high-level skills data comprehensive enough to keep up to date, without being exhaustive. This keeps the task scalable and saves it from becoming too difficult, time-consuming or unmanageable. 


Mobilise skills adjacencies

After mapping out the current existing skills in your organisation, it’s time to understand and leverage skills adjacencies. What are the most urgent skills gaps you need to address? What secondary or tertiary skills could you build on? 

For example, your current technical employees with knowledge of Python are likely to be successful in gaining new machine learning or topic modelling skills, given their skills proximity.  

Read more: Why upskilling works for attraction and retention

If your organisation is large, has the budget or needs to act quickly to address immediate skills needs, consider partnering with a data science team, or using machine learning and other data processing tools. These scalable solutions help you identify and unlock skills adjacencies efficiently, minus the grunt work. 


Adjust career path strategies to encourage flexible progression

Traditional career models are based on the assumption roles remain relatively unchanged for years and people can only progress by moving up the ladder. Harnessing skills adjacencies is upending this model, allowing you and your team members to identify new, exciting career pathways. 

Fluid, unrestricted and untraditional career models are healthier and more attractive for both organisations and employees. In fact, eight out of ten employees state upskilling has made them more productive and they’re better able to contribute to their team’s successes. Organisations agree, with 91% stating they’ve seen an increase in overall productivity from upskilling initiatives. This creates a positive cycle of increased productivity, better results and happier, more engaged employees. 

Leverage employees’ skills adjacencies by breaking down the belief “progress” can only operate in an upward trajectories and title changes. This empowers them to be dynamic and ready to change course as your organisation requires.  

Leveraging skills adjacencies is one of the most efficient ways to “expand your talent pool” without going to market. Tackling urgent skills gaps in your organisation can seem insurmountable – but identifying your current skills, mobilising skills adjacencies and upending traditional work models will empower your organisation to achieve sustainable, long-term growth and success.