Here Is How You Can Identify And Close Skill Gaps In Software Development
The skills gap is real. There’s no way around it and it has only been increasing exponentially. Nearly one-third of employers surveyed in the Future Of Work 2022 report by Monster agree that the IT skills gap has increased from a year ago. 87% of employers say they have trouble finding qualified talent as a result.
Also, the acceleration of remote/hybrid work and the heavy dependence on technology has led to different and newer skills being required from employees and employers alike. A McKinsey study shows respondents leaning toward skill-building as the best way to close the skill gaps rampage in this industry. Social and emotional skills like empathy, compassion, and adaptability have been spotlighted.
The need to address the skills gap is more urgent than ever. Building a future-ready workforce begins with skill transformations—providing opportunities for your employees to upskill continuously so they are better prepared to handle the rapid changes the tech industry is known for.
Wondering where to start? You’re in the right place. In this article, we see what an IT skills gap means, how to identify skills gaps, how to perform a skills gap analysis, and strategies for upskilling your employees. Read on 🙂
Understanding the technology skills gap
It’s an exciting time to be a software developer. Changes are taking place not only in advanced technologies like net development machine learning, AI, and data science, but also in how we work, emphasizing soft skills like communication, understanding, and adaptability.
But here’s the catch—for software development teams to remain in step with the rapid changes in the industry, they must place upskilling at the center of their strategic approach. Over 50% of employees say their employer doesn’t understand their current capabilities. This leads to employers offering the wrong kinds of training or worse, offering no training at all.
Before you know it, there will be too big a gap between required and needed skills; productivity will take a hit and employees will feel demotivated. To put it simply, you have a skills gap problem on your hands. A technology skills gap is when your existing workforce’s skill set doesn’t align with the skills they need to do their jobs.
How do we bridge this? By conducting a skills gap analysis on an individual, departmental, or company-wide level at periodic intervals. The results of this analysis will help inform training requirements, employee development plans, and hiring strategies.
Skills gap analysis: A definition
Rapid digitization in the tech industry means that certain jobs will disappear due to automation, while others will change in terms of their core tasks and responsibilities. You should also factor in all the changes brought about by the remote/hybrid work models of today. This is where the IT skills gap widens and job descriptions evolve to better suit work requirements.
Enter skills gap analysis—think of it as a planning tool to ensure that your tech team is equipped to meet the demands of your organization as well as adapt to the ever-changing needs of the tech industry.
You, as a manager, can uncover gaps in your tech teams, organize employee training plans, and set career development goals. Assess the employee’s (in this case, the developer’s) ability to perform each task to a required level.
Determine what skills and knowledge are currently missing in your development teams and which of those skills are essential for your organization’s performance. Then curate individual learning and upskilling paths for each developer on the team.
How to perform a skills gap analysis
Now that we’ve discussed what an IT skills gap analysis is, and why it’s important, let’s dive into how to conduct one:
Define the skills needed for a particular job description
Before you get started with upskilling and training programs for your teams, it’s crucial to decide the scope of your skills gap analysis. If it is at the individual level, then you need to evaluate each employee’s skills against the existing job description of their roles. If it is at a team/company level, focus on whether the team detail-oriented and has the required skills to complete an upcoming project.
We are delving into the individual skill sets of in-house developers in this article so that would be the scope of the analysis here. In this case, team leads can help you with uncovering the skills gaps of the individual employees in their respective departments.
Based on these findings, you can formulate a tentative plan of action that narrows down the skills gap at your company.
Track market trends to identify key “future skills”
Keep an eye on key trends in the tech industry and what type of skills come to the forefront in 5 or 10 years. This will help you set your target range of skills needed accurately. Make use of skills identification software as a helpful starting point to map the relevant target skills.
With the tech industry rapidly evolving, developers and companies alike need to stay abreast of the latest technologies, languages, and advancements in their fields to remain competitive. Evaluate and determine the skills you will need in the future by answering these questions:
- Which jobs could become automated?
- What skill sets are currently on the rise?
- Which currently (not yet defined roles) will your company need?
- What new skills would our employees need to do their jobs well in the future?
- Does the hiring process align with our new skills requirements?
Rank your target skill sets by the level of importance. Assign a numerical value between one and ten for each:
- Level of importance (1-10)
- Level of proficiency in skill required (1-10)
Use this rating as your baseline when measuring your employees’ current skills.
Also, read: Building Future-Ready Tech Teams
Review the current skills of your employees
Identifying your target set of skills will help you to determine your “distance” to those skills. Now that you have your ratings in place, the next step is to evaluate where the skills gaps lie. To measure individual skill levels, you could use:
- Employee surveys
- Skills assessments
- Interviews with employees
- Feedback from 360-degree performance reviews
- Analysis of KPIs for teams and individuals
Use data to plan for and close the IT skills gap
By now, you will have a comprehensive list of skills gaps that need to be addressed. Generally, skills gaps are addressed by a combination of two methods: training and hiring.
#1 Training to close the skills gap – Assess your employees and create individual learning paths for them that focus on the areas that you’re looking to upskill. Once you have a plan in place, provide the resources to train your employees. The right training can help you close gaps between current and desired skill levels. You can offer:
- Team-level workshops
- Employee mentorship programs
- External certification courses
- Employee skills assessments
- Internal hackathons
We’ve discussed them at length in the next section of this article.
#2 Hiring to close the skills gap – If your skills gaps are too expansive to minimize with training, consider hiring contingent workers to bring new knowledge and skills into your company. Up your hiring game by:
- Incorporating rigorous screening of candidates for skills your company needs, into your hiring process. You can use pre-employment coding assessments to ensure your candidates are a good fit for the team.
- Sourcing passive candidates via social recruiting when hiring for niche skills. Use Boolean search strings for better results. Recruiters need to think outside the box if they want to hire the best talent out there.
Also read: The Ultimate Guide To Social Recruiting
Make the IT skills gap analysis an ongoing activity
Solving the skills gap will only work out when you act on the data from the skills gap analysis and insights and bake it into your team objectives. You have to run the analysis on an ongoing basis for it to have maximum impact.
Effectively, that means ensuring you build these insights into your approach for talent acquisition, talent reviews, and succession planning, as well as, of course, reskilling, upskilling, and career planning.
Closing the gap: How to upskill your in-house development team
There is one answer that stands out when asked how to close the skills gap—upskilling. 67% of Indian respondents say their organizations are prioritizing skill-building as reported by McKinsey.
Now on to the next question; what specific upskilling methods can you add to best equip your developers with the skills of the future? Here is a mix of internal and external training programs that you could rely on to do the job:
Organize internal workshops for all your tech teams at reasonable intervals during which someone from each team shares their knowledge, tips, and tricks for how they resolved some problems. You could also ask them to prepare a presentation and quiz the developers attending these sessions to increase their participation.
Another option would be to bring in professional training firms that hold seminars and provide hands-on experience for your developers. Asking industry experts to come and conduct workshops at your company would be a highly engaging and informative experience for your tech teams.
Employee mentorship programs
Pair senior and more experienced developers with freshers so they can pass on their knowledge to them. They can guide and teach junior developers, which also increases teamwork and knowledge transfer.
A smart workplace mentoring program improves culture, keeps new hires engaged, and provides a supportive environment for learning.
External certification courses
Set aside a budget for external training courses. Encourage your teams to do courses on Udemy or Coursera that also hand out certificates on completion of the course. There are a variety of courses available for developers to upskill in or learn new skills like Full-stack, DevOps, Blockchain, and so on.
Employee skills assessments
This is where HackerEarth steps in. To be ready for the future is to be intentional about the steps you take right now. As an organization focused on driving innovation continuously, you have to start with your employees. Nurture them, engage them, and provide them with ample opportunities to upskill or re-skill at every stage of their career.
HackerEarth’s L&D platform helps employees to assess themselves and identify skills gaps. Once these are defined, you can then curate individual learning pathways that will help your team upskill, grow and be ready for future challenges in the ‘present’.
Continuously run employee skills assessments across 41+ programming languages and 80+ skills, and analyze progress with insight-rich reports provided by our platform. You can effortlessly benchmark your tech team’s performance and track their growth.
Keeping your team sufficiently engaged given that everybody is working remotely is crucial for productivity. Our internal hackathons bring different teams together to enhance cross-team collaboration and participate in real-world challenges to brush up on their skills.
Doing this will help close the gaps between their current skill level and your desired skill level. Also, your employees are more likely to stick with you because you are investing in their career development and coming up with creative solutions to keep them engaged.
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