Five strategies to creatively tackle the skills shortage

CHIEF OF STAFF FIVE: According to a recent ManpowerGroup Singapore survey, Singapore's talent shortage levels are at a 16-year record low.

Human Resources (HR) leaders throughout the region are responding by ramping up hiring, but such a strategy can be difficult to navigate in isolation as high value talents have plenty of options to choose from in a highly competitive market.

But, strange as it might seem, the answer may lie outside of the recruitment team. These five strategies aim to increase the skills and human resources available to an organisation without necessarily expanding hiring.

1. Retrain existing employees

Many HR teams are now focusing on upskilling or reskilling existing employees to counteract the effects of talent shortages, tailoring them to fit the specific skill gaps in their organisations. A great way to do this is to offer in-house training, where a skilled employee or an external trainer is called in to share their expertise.

This method allows the company to account for future skill shortages and improves employee engagement. Ninety-five percent of employees in Asia reported of learning a new skill recently and self-improvement has been found to be a valued criterion in whether an employee stays or goes.

2. Reshuffle workforce skills

An often overlooked aspect in dealing with talent shortages is to reconsider the skills that already exist in the organisation. Many companies doing a serious deep dive into current processes may find that they already have the skills they need, but aren’t utilising them effectively.

For example, someone with a strong sales background might also be able to flourish in marketing, or someone with engineering skills might suit a role as resource manager.

3. Utilise interim employees

Between freelancers, consultants, contractors and more, it’s time for leaders to reimagine what employment looks like in their organisation. Talent, in the typical labor market may be growing thin, but the gig economy has only increased the number of free agents.

Interim workers can help to fill skill gaps in an operation quickly without breaking the bank. They have become an increasingly popular option as interim employees with varying levels of flexibility, availability and skills allows leaders to employ them based on a project-to-project basis within many budgets and timeframes.

4. Partner with universities or education facilities

Businesses that partner with universities offer value-added opportunities like industry-specific training for students, while allowing schools to tout higher job placement rates. Meanwhile, the companies themselves get an endless supply of talent, future-proofing the organisation while also getting talent that has been curated specially for the company’s skill needs.

The National University of Singapore business school, for example, has partnered with the likes of Alibaba, Huawei, KPMG, Lazada, Ernst & Yong, TikTok, and plenty of other brands that has increased the desirability of the learning institution.

5. Rethink hiring criteria

Waiting for the perfect candidate that can fill all the role’s gaps could leave a vacancy open for weeks to months, leaving existing employees to cover for the role which will not only lead to burnout and increased turnover, but also creates less than optimal work.

Either reconsidering the experience needed to fill the role, or hiring candidates who only meet most of the criteria, could be a way to rethink hiring without hurting the company. With training, leaders can help these new hires grow into the role and it may lead to better results than waiting for the perfect candidate to emerge.

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