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How to close skill gaps faster

Aligning learning with business goals

There’s a wide gap between a company’s strategy and business goals and the skills it will take to get them there. New technologies and their digital capabilities are accelerating so quickly, there’s a risk that a majority of the current workforce is under prepared to help companies achieve their goals.

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According to PwC’s 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey, 79% of CEOs surveyed said they’re  concerned their organizations won’t have the digital skills needed to meet the demands of emerging roles. The solution is to focus on preparing for the future by adopting a mindset that can improve employee experience in ways that grow the people you have and attract the top talent to your organization. 

For a lot of companies, growing talent means trying to fill skill gaps with upskilling programs, but more than 80% of those companies aren’t gaining traction. They’re not seeing a reduction in skill gaps or the mismatch between the talent they have and the skills they need. One core reason: most companies don’t have a clear understanding of the skills their workers already have compared with the skills they’ll need to help the organization succeed in the future. So the gap widens even as learning chiefs invest in new programs and employees sign up for them. 

As HR, executive and function-area leaders try to address the limitations of development programs, they’re still under pressure from CEOs and employees to provide more skill building opportunities that will help individuals and organizations succeed. Business leadership might attempt to predict the kinds of skills that the future demands. But these predictions can be imprecise, and it’s common that what employees learn in upskilling programs and what turns out to be needed don’t line up. 

Businesses don’t need to endure this cycle of mismatched skills and needs. The solution lies in taking a hard look at the issues with traditional skill-gap analysis and recruitment and adopting a more dynamic and holistic approach. Using data to pinpoint underlying organizational needs can better inform the kind of upskilling that can fill the gaps.

Where the traditional skill-gap analysis and recruitment fall short

Traditional methods of understanding skill gaps and emerging competencies tend to be manual, fragmented or piecemeal. HR systems that gather and analyze employee performance and feedback are often separate from the data a company might gather about future skills. It’s also hard to make predictions about future roles that will require skill sets an organization might not have in-house or even need yet. 

The pace of technological change and advancement doesn’t help the traditional skill gaps analysis process. Industry trends for roles, and the skills needed to fill them, constantly fluctuate. By the time hiring managers get a handle on a trend they’re piecing together, it may have shifted. 

What’s more, hiring managers may not have any labor or workforce data to work from at all in order to make projections about the skills they’ll need. Or they might rely on buzzwords without knowing how those “buzzworthy” skills apply to their business. For example, a recruiter might search for “AI” without understanding what specific skills are needed to drive success in their company’s existing or emerging roles.  

A skills mismatch can also happen when recruiters write requirements for roles that don't align with what a business needs. For example, a recruiting template might require a hiring manager to enter a certain number of years of experience – but what if it’s the ability to use a brand new coding language? No one is going to have a lot of experience in that area yet. 

While executive or HR leadership may have insight into some aspects of workforce skills and gaps, most aren’t using a holistic live view that instills the confidence to develop forward-looking workforce strategies for sourcing, training, growth and succession planning.

A dynamic approach to closing the skills gap

Today’s workforce demands coupled with the rapid pace of change means the time between skills development and application is shrinking. At PwC, we responded to this problem with a dynamic approach to corporate learning that cultivated our people’s digital skills. 

Within the first year of our upskilling program, we saw top line growth and enhanced employee experience. Nearly three years into our journey, 75% of our people say the technology they now know how to use helps them work more effectively. Plus, more than 80% of teams reported they developed digital skills and now seek out new ways to use these skills and technologies. 

The smarter way to attack workforce planning and upskilling problems is to move the needle on skill development, retention and immediate applicability to enterprise-wide efficiency and growth. Companies need a practical solution that integrates information from the external, industry-specific and market forces at play with their own internal company data. 

We’ve used our own upskilling experiences to build a platform to help other organizations identify the skills they need and design and deploy learning that gets results.

ProEdge: An upskilling platform for your entire organization

ProEdge gives you a data-driven approach to upskilling. This cloud-based platform helps streamline skill gap analysis, recruiting and corporate learning by delivering a more realistic snapshot of your workforce skills profile. ProEdge is an end-to-end upskilling platform that identifies the skills your organization needs to compete now and in the future and helps you bring digital transformation to life.  

Our technology-driven insights draw from millions of marketplace data points to help uncover what you need to succeed in the future. Then the platforms delivers relevant content to your employees based on the skill gaps and needs identified in that first step. Your employees also enjoy access to a cloud-based sandbox of tools where they can practice digital skills and complete scenario-based projects to earn credentials. Finally, to scale the benefits of upskilling across the organization, ProEdge provides an internal social exchange where employees find and distribute the digital assets to improve efficiencies and ways of working.

Plan: A deeper dive into the first step 

The foundational component of ProEdge is Plan. Plan offers a systematic, data-driven approach to understanding your current workforce profile – highlighting areas of strengths and development opportunities in objective, straightforward ways you can view as easily as you would on a smartphone app. Using this data, leadership teams and human capital administrators can develop robust, forward-looking plans while taking into account the needs of individuals, teams, functions and the enterprise. 

Plan’s strong foundation includes more than 200 million data points from more than 25+ sources as well as insights from PwC subject matter specialists. The job market data we aggregate and synthesize also includes over 10,000 occupations, 100M resumes, 10M job listings and 500,000 skills.

ProEdge’s skills analysis capability was engineered from the ground up and will constantly evolve to reflect changes in your industry and function.

Plan solves the problems of identifying skill gaps by gathering information from internal and external sources so HR and executive leaders can access current data in real-time about the market and their organization. Imagine the power of making talent decisions based on objective data rather than subjective opinions, anecdotal evidence or outdated information.

How does Plan determine where your gaps lie? 

Plan gathers the company labor data and combines it with workforce profiles and online professional network data. Then, it runs this accumulated information through models to identify potential gaps relative to industry trends. Your leadership teams and staff can run scenario-analyses, develop workforce plans and monitor progress through a simple, intuitive, dashboard-like experience. 

Plan’s underlying data-driven approach can empower you to make strategic and operational decisions with confidence.

So what do you do with your existing systems? Using our Flexible Extensible Platform architecture, data from your human resource, learning management and enterprise resource planning systems can be integrated into ProEdge without IT heavy lifting.  

Plan provides the ability to answer big questions

  • What is our current workforce profile?

  • Where are the biggest gaps in skills, and how do we measure up to our industry peers?

  • Are there trending and emerging skills we need to consider investing in?

  • How do we build and assign learning pathways that close our workforce skill gaps? 

And Plan is just the beginning of the ProEdge journey. It sets the foundation for an end-to-end journey, including personalized learning (with Learn), hands-on skills development (with Create) and citizen-led innovation (with Share). 

ProEdge uses industry-leading machine learning algorithms to enable a personalized, relevant experience for leaders, administrators and learners. The platform delivers precise skills mapping that enables robust, individualized learning pathways. These pathways then empower employees to learn the skills that can elevate the digital acumen of an entire organization. 

ProEdge gives people the ability to improve their ways of working and build solutions that drive efficiencies. This is the answer to the problem of mismatched skills and roles and trying to make learning stick.

Download the eBook here

Take the first step on a new path toward transforming both your organization and the learning experience of your employees.

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