Conduct a skills gap analysis in 5 simple steps

When employers want certain skills and their employees don’t have them, it falls to HR (Human Resources) or L&D (Learning & Development) to conduct a skills gap analysis. Because a shortage in the skills department will have an impact on employee performance, which, in turn, will impact company growth.

C-level executives know this all too well: according to Adecco 92% of US executives have complained that their workforce are not equipped with the skills their business needs to succeed.

So how can you go about successfully acquiring and analysing the data to address these skills shortages? Follow these five simple steps to lay the groundwork for a more profitable future for your business.


1. Explain what you’re doing, and why

Too often, the work of L&D and HR professionals is overlooked by performance-driven businesses. Mostly because L&D and HR roles definitively focus on people – which means showing the positive impact your efforts have on the bottom line can be challenging.

But one sure way to get recognition is by telling your business how the skills gap analysis you’re conducting will benefit them, and the business as a whole.

Organise a meeting with all line managers and C-level executives so you can explain what a skills gap analysis entails. Explain why you – or the external consultant you’ve hired – are taking the time to review the skills levels of the company’s workforce. Explain the benefits the process holds for them, and the numbers their performance is judged on. This will get them on board so that if you need their cooperation, they’ll be only too happy to oblige.

2. Plan who you’ll assess, and who will lead

You can choose to conduct a skills gap analysis on two different levels:

Individual

This form of analysis identifies the skillset one single job requires, and assesses them against the skills the employee actually has.

You’d choose to go down this avenue if an employee received a poor performance review; needed to upskill to get a promotion, or take on a new project; or if their duties changed.

Team or company

Assessing on a team or company-wide level involves assessing skill levels across the board.

This level suits results-driven businesses that wish to harness HR and L&D efforts to address a company’s struggle to meet business goals; a change in strategy that’ll require acquiring new skills; or an introduction of a new technology that’ll require new expertise.

Once you’ve decided on who you’ll assess, it helps to assign a project leader, or leaders.

If you’re analysing on an individual level, you’ll just need a team leader.

If you’re analysing on a team or company-wide level, you’ll need a team leader, your HR team and – if you’re looking to carry out the process as objectively as possible – an external consultant on hand to see the process through.

3. Identify a list of key skills worth measuring

Whether you’re choosing to conduct a skills gap analysis on an individual, team or company-wide level, listing the skills critical to your endeavour comes next.

Consider both hard and soft skills in the pool of job descriptions you’re assessing, along with company values and business objectives.

To be thorough (and encourage employees to participate in company growth), think to conduct a survey to ask the relevant employees what skills are missing. It’s also worth thinking beyond existing skill sets, and consider what else the business may need in the next five to 10 years.

Once you’ve got a complete list, before you proceed you’ll need to narrow it down to the most critical skills. You could choose to prioritise based on two sets of criteria: the importance of the skill to the big picture (on a scale from low to moderate to high), and the skill level required (on a scale from poor to good to excellent). Or you find it easier and more practical to use a sliding numerical scale, using say a five-point system (one being low and five being high for skill importance; and one being poor and five being excellent for skill level required).

Whichever method you choose, document your prioritisation clearly in a spreadsheet and stick to one consistent grading system.

4. Conduct your analyses with accuracy

It’s now time to take that list and set your analyses of current skills in motion.

Use all possible methods at your disposal to ensure you acquire the most comprehensive data possible. Consider the following methods:

– Feedback from performance reviews

– Interviews with employees

– Assessments and surveys

You could use these methods to expand on your spreadsheet you created to document your critical skills. For example, based on your analyses you could compare your existing data of the ‘skill level required’ to the ‘actual skill level’ per employee. If you pursue this, ensure you stick to your rating method you followed when assembling your list of key skills to analyse.

5. Devise and implement a plan of action

Once you’ve done the heavy lifting, you’ll have full transparency of the skills gaps you’ll need to fill.

There are two ways to bridge those gaps: one is hiring; the other is training.

While hiring may, to some, seem like the easiest and most obvious option, according to SHRM’s “The Global Skills Shortage” report, those same skills gaps you’ve discovered within your organisation are likely to exist in the job market.

Out of the 83% of their surveyed HR professionals who’ve struggled to recruit eligible candidates in the last 12 months, 75% believe that their difficulties are caused by skills shortages in their pool of job applicants.

Which means that due to the current job market, offering training programmes to bridge the gaps is often the most viable – not to mention cost-effective and beneficial – option for all.


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