Identifying Skill Gaps: Lessons from the IT Industry

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Identifying Skill Gaps: Lessons from the IT Industry.

Over the last 10 years my company has had to handle several IT training projects where we were asked to identify our clients' learning needs and tailor our training programs to have these needs addressed. This article discusses some of those learnings.

By Dr. Michael Baron.

Identifying Skill Gaps

A particular emphasis has always been placed on identifying the skill gaps linked to fulfilment of the company's specific business and technical processes. Our efforts have resulted in development of a number of skill gap identification strategies and patterns that are discussed below.

Workplace Performance Analysis

Workplace performance observation is arguably one of the best strategies of identifying skill gaps. Traditional forms of observation have long been coming under a lot of criticism for putting employees under additional pressure due to being watched. Contemporary IT environment enables training consultants to substitute observation with the so-called ''output analysis''. Once IT staff members log into their systems, it is easy to observe their online professional activities from transaction processing to the new system design. The data collected as a result of such ''modern day observation'' is going to include not only identification of the tasks completed but also how long it takes the employees to complete the respective tasks. This approach makes it quite easy for a training consultant to pinpoint both the tasks that the employees failed to complete fully as well as the tasks that could not be completed on time.

Staff Feedback Analysis

Just because there is a wide range of technology-powered tools and patterns available (as with the method outlined above), it does not mean that the old skills analysis methods should be regarded as outdated and mercilessly dropped from training consulting practices. Staff feedback remains a very useful source of suggestions for possible improvements needed. In order to make it work well, training consultants should aim at creating non-threatening environment where their clients are at ease to talk about their skill deficiencies.

Task Swapping

Unfortunately many employees spend a lion share of their time on a very limited range of workplace tasks and duties. This makes it difficult for a visiting training consultant to pick up broader skill deficiencies while on a short-term project. A simple solution to this problem is to make arrangements with the management to get the employees to swap their duties and responsibilities around.

Written By Dr. Michael Baron, Baron Consulting, CEO. © 2009. Printed with permission.

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