It’s getting increasingly difficult for companies to find the skilled workers needed to drive their business forward.

According to SHRM, 75% of those struggling to recruit talent say there is a shortage of skills among applicants. Even among employees, a report from Gartner revealed that 70% haven’t mastered the skills they need for their jobs. Given this discrepancy, it’s no wonder why building critical skills and competencies within an organization is the number-one cited imperative for business leaders.

What’s contributing to the skills gap?  

In Canada, part of the problem stems from demographics. Canada’s growing economy and aging population are eating into the pool of skilled workers.

Another challenge is matching skilled workers with jobs that make good use of those skills.  Skilled workers in Canada are more highly educated than ever. As of 2018, 58% of Canadian workers earned a tertiary qualification. 

Rather than a lack of talented workers, the skills gap is a breakdown which fails to match the most talented, educated and well-trained workers with jobs that suit their talents, and additionally neglects to help them develop the specific skills necessary to put those talents to good use. 

The process of learning and development transcends the onboarding process – it’s ongoing. The skills needed today will be dated in the years that follow. As many as 19% of employees believe their skills will be irrelevant in just three years. With proper training, your employees can reskill to use their talents to meet new challenges and grow your business. Before you can reskill your workforce, you need to know which skills are missing.

How to identify the skills your organization needs

Using the method of talent gap analysis, you can determine your organization’s projected skill and hiring needs to fill the gaps and build a more competent, committed and creative workforce.

Step 1: Determine needs

The talent gap analysis can take place on two levels: individual and organizational. Analyzing at the individual level allows you to determine the skills required to perform in a role and use that as a rubric to measure a person’s suitability for that role. At the organizational level, you can analyze whole teams to determine what skills are necessary to perform their function and where the team falls short. 

By charting the ideal skills each role and team needs to succeed, you’ll have a clearer picture of where you are and where you need to reach once you complete the next step.

Step 2: Take inventory

Take inventory of the skills and talents your workforce already has through interviews, assessments and surveys.

Record specific job experience and education, but also keep track of broader skills, talents, competencies and interests. This can be valuable information when matching people with suitable roles, and you can find skills-tracking and competency-matching software to help you with this analysis. 

Group skills into a hierarchy based on immediacy, applicability, and sustainability. Immediate skills are those you need right now or soon. Applicability is a measurement of how easy it is to transfer from a learning environment to use in a work environment. Sustainable skills are measured on endurance, or how much potential they have to stay relevant through changes in the market and technology.

Step 3: Find the gaps

Once you take inventory, you can see what you’re missing. From that pre-analysis in step one, you can create an action plan to address the gaps in an individual or team’s skill set. Can the gaps be improved through training? Are they more suitable for a different role in the organization? Using your vision map as a guide, you can see which roles and teams are filled with the most skilled individuals and where you need to create plans to bring them up to speed. 

How to build and access missing skills

You have three options for addressing skills gaps: training, recruitment and realignment. 


With the inventory of your workforce’s skills, you can reshuffle roles and teams to make better use of those capabilities. 

For example, Hilton Hotels and Resorts keeps a detailed record of employees’ skills and talents so they can activate those employees when needs arise that require their skills. For example, bilingual employees can help penetrate new markets. According to Matthew W. Schuyler, Hilton Worldwide’s Chief Human Resources Officer, “We’re creating an internally mobile talent market where there is a natural push and pull for skills.” 


Many employers believe they’re investing plenty in training and professional development. But if 70% of employees feel they are not masters of the skills required for their jobs, as Gartner found, there’s a disconnect.

Training is the most straightforward way to address skills gaps among your employees. It also boosts job satisfaction and reduces turnover. When Indeed asked job seekers what could have helped them stay at their company longer, the number-one response (42%) was more effective onboarding and training.*    


Finally, recruitment can help you address a skills gap in your company, and there are ways to change your recruitment process to access a greater pool of talent: 

  • Look beyond specific skills to focus on finding candidates whose broader competencies make them trainable for the skills you need. 
  • Access key skills by hiring freelancers.
  • Ask yourself who is being excluded from your usual networks.  For example, some companies are dropping their degree requirements. 

The skills gap is a problem that requires a multipronged response. With some creativity and flexibility, we can improve our ability to match talented people with jobs they’re suited for and train them to keep their skills sharp and relevant.

* Indeed Survey, n=542