The Forage Talent Resource Center

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How You Can Solve the Skills Gap

It’s easy economics - just create more supply. 

There’s a new solution to solving the skills gap, and it’s all about supply. 

The growing global skills gap is an unavoidable topic. It’s been keeping CEOs around the world up at night for years now, with nearly 80% citing concerns about the skills pipeline. Meanwhile, talent leaders are left grappling with all things skilling, upskilling, and reskilling. 

This is unsurprising - it’s economics. As the demand for skilled talent far outweighs the supply, employers are left waging a war for talent, the likes of which have never been seen before.

Those in the “supply” category - the talent - aren’t blind to this. They read the same headlines and they hear what employers are saying. Our study of nearly 2000 students around the world found that only 14% believe college provides the skills needed for workplace success and 98% want more practical training. But they’re limited with what they can do about it. 

In order to have the right skills for a particular workplace, they need opportunities to gain those skills. College and universities aren’t the solution to this. They focus on providing the theoretical and technical foundation - they were not established to provide skills for specific workplaces. Broad-brush skilling programs are a step in the right direction, but, similar to colleges and universities, they cannot accommodate for the nuances in skills required for different workplaces. A software engineer at Walmart is not the same as a software engineer at JPMorgan.

The closest solution is the traditional internship program. But, unfortunately, this is far from perfect. Why?

  • They’re not scalable. This means employers must rely on hiring signals that limit entrance to a relatively select few - and are forced to limit the supply they create. 
  • The interns don’t always know what to expect - and, as NACE’s 2021 Student Survey Report found, a notable portion come out of the internship choosing not to pursue the role. This means an employer has invested precious time and resources to skill a finite “supply” of early talent that has gone off elsewhere.
NACE's 2021 study found that only 57.4% of interns want to continue working with an organisation after they finished an internship.

How can you build supply? By preskilling.

To close the skills gap, we must increase the supply. What’s the best way to do this? Build it yourself through preskilling. It’s the only “skilling” term talent leaders should worry about. 

Preskilling encapsulates the intersection between the workplace, skills and career exploration. Through workplace-specific training, it lets someone build skills that are relevant to a workplace before even becoming a candidate. This closes the skills (and, let’s face it, career awareness) gap. 

By front-loading opportunities to gain workplace-specific skills, employers benefit from a larger supply of talent that:

  • Knows what they do, how they do it and what qualities talent needs to be a success 
  • Has the skills and awareness to hit the ground running from day one
  • Has made an educated, empowered and specific decision to apply for their workplace (goodbye, high attrition rates)! 

A version of preskilling already exists through the traditional internship program. But, as we know, there’s room for improvement. 

So, how does this new form of preskilling occur? Fortunately, it requires significantly less work for talent teams (the epitome of overworked and under-resourced). The new form is virtual job simulations. 

Virtual job simulations provide a day-in-the-life experience of an actual role at a specific company. The work isn’t real, but it feels real. By being virtual, always-on and open-access (that is, there are no limiting entry requirements for anyone), talent can gain the skills and capability to be a success in workplaces all around the world. Whether it be an M&A lawyer at Latham & Watkins in the US or a consultant at Accenture Nordics, anyone anywhere can build the skills to meaningfully contribute to a future employer. 

And it works. Virtual job simulations have a demonstrable impact on skills, confidence and career awareness. Our studies across more than 3,000 students and a platform-wide analysis of over 50 virtual job simulations found:

  • 88% gained new practical skills
  • 99% felt more confident applying for a role
  • 66% changed their mind about a particular career path.

Over 400 colleges around the world and major global employers like Amazon, Cognizant and the Big Four consulting firms have already incorporated preskilling into their strategy.

If you want to solve the skills gap, build the supply - through preskilling. You can learn more about how here

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