From education to employment

How can organisations best train and assess the skills of their employees?

John Kleeman

Counting the cost

Many organisations across the UK have long identified growing skills gaps (I prefer to refer to this as a ‘skills shortage’, but more on that later) across the workforce. As far back as 2019 BC (Before Covid), reports were emerging from industry that the required skills to fulfill modern work were starting to become scarce. One such report from the Learning and Work Institute (L&W) found that the UK skills shortage will end up costing the country as much as £120 billion by 2030.

While this date may have seemed like the far-flung future back in 2019 is now starting to poke its head above the horizon and the pressing need to address this skills shortage is being more keenly felt than ever before. 

There are many different factors that contribute to skills gaps, but perhaps the factor which is most prevalent is chronic under-investment in workplace skills development. The same L&W report identified an urgent need to focus on improving transferable skills early on in career development.   

It is my belief that the ‘skills gap’ is rather a skills shortage. We have the talent in the UK, but our challenge is ensuring this talent is nurtured and given access to the tools to gain the skills required in today’s workplace. 

Looking beyond traditional training 

To address the skills shortage, we must examine how we are preparing our young people for the world of work. Skills suggest as digital / data literacy, data analysis, critical thinking and use fo AI have either taken a backseat or been completely overlooked. Schools and universities have a key role to play in providing industry-relevant training courses to pupils, however there is also an obligation for industry to look beyond the often-rigid structure of traditional education.  

Organisations are starting to wake up to this fact. Many have, or are, developing robust in-house training, assessments and certifications, which are providing the opportunity for employers to hire workers who show promise and upskill them while on the job.

Providing learning and certification opportunities can give organisations a competitive edge when it comes to recruiting and, moreover, it can boost productivity among employees, allowing new recruits to gain job-specific skills while on the job.  

Proving Knowledge

While organisations can review recruitment strategies, one of the biggest challenges they face is qualifying and ‘proving’ the knowledge of employees enrolled on training programmes. (Let’s face it, ROI is often a key consideration when it comes to getting sign off at board level.)

For organisations recruiting globally, this can be a real challenge, particularly when onboarding inexperienced hires.And for learning and upskilling to be successful it must be accessible, relevant and reliable regardless of location or language.

This poses the question – How best to fairly assess your investment in people?

One answer is online assessment. For example, the Questionmark platform offers valid, reliable and secure assessments with facilities for remote proctoring and ‘Instant Translate’ to help candidates and organisations bring more inclusivity, equity, and accessibility into the assessment process.

Online assessment can also provide organisations with a full data set of test results that can help to identify areas of strength and weakness within training programs and where further training can be rolled out to ensure an employee is able to demonstrate the required skills for their role.

By John Kleeman, Founder of Questionmark

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