It’s important for employers to make sure they have skilled employees to fulfill the tasks required to make their business a success. We’ve become used to hearing dire news about future skills shortages in the UK economy. An annual survey (Download PDF) of 1000 UK SMEs cited finding skilled staff as the greatest challenge they faced – the manufacturing sector expressed the greatest level of concern about finding skilled workers, followed by technology and construction.

Small to medium sized enterprises are being urged to take action and help is already being made available – in a boost to productivity and business growth, a fund of £7.8m has been made available to East Midlands SMEs to upskill staff where employees lack the required training or qualifications. One hotel business which identified a skills gap in customer service has already benefited from the initiative.

If you’re not sure your employees have all the skills to do the job you may need a skills audit.

What is a skills audit?

A skills audit (sometimes also called Training Needs Analysis or TNA) is one way of addressing the skills gap. You can use it to find out about the knowledge and skills of your employees. It will provide your organisation with information about training, development and recruitment needs. A skills audit can take place as a one-off but it is recommended that employers undertake it regularly to build an accurate picture.

What are the benefits of a skills audit?

  • Knowing the skills of your employees is an important part of workforce planning and ensures your firm has the appropriate competencies to give it the competitive edge.
  • Plugging any skills gaps identified is a way of future-proofing your business against changes in your sector or the direction of your own business.
  • Once you know where the skills gaps are in your business you can set out to plug them either by recruitment, whether immediate or as natural wastage occurs, or by training and developing the skills of existing staff. If opting for the latter, you may also be boosting job satisfaction, employee wellbeing and ultimately productivity.
  • Armed with knowledge about your employees’ skills you’ll be able to put together more effective and balanced teams.

How to conduct a skills audit

  • Decide on the scope of your audit – is it industry-specific skills (eg. particular certificates and qualifications) or will it include other skills too such as supervision, leadership etc?
  • Avoid being short-sighted and look ahead to coming years and expected changes in your sector affected by for example technology or changing working practices, or even a planned change of direction for the business.
  • Identify a lead person within your firm and provide a full and positive explanation to staff about the process and the likely benefits to them and the company.
  • Check the existing information you hold about the skills of your staff – this may be from their original application combined with up-to-date feedback from their line managers. Organisations with an automated workforce management system will find this task easier as they can check the skills which are logged and they’re easily accessible.
  • Map tasks to skills required by the company at present and for future projects and contracts to identify any skills gaps and any under-capacity.

The Chronologic Workforce Management System can help you identify the skills of your employees and log new ones. The HR module  provides a useful and cost-effective way of collecting and gathering HR information in one place.  When planning rotas and schedules you can ensure that the correct skills allocations are made and that appropriately skilled staff are on-site.

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