Before I start please be advised that I am writing about this topic from an Australian perspective. The comments and points I discuss in this article may not apply to your particular location if you are not currently living in Australia.
Sometimes there is a bit of confusion between a skills shortage and a skills gap. So, let me try to explain the difference. A skills shortage occurs when employers find it difficult to fill a skilled job vacancy when they are offering market based wages, standard working conditions and the jobs are in easily accessible locations (think cities and highly populated regional areas). Often, the employer will need to offer a higher salary and/or better conditions to fill the job.
A skills gap applies to candidates and is the difference between what skills the candidate has and what skills are needed by the employer to get the job done. This means that some people don’t have the right skills for the jobs that are available. They could be underqualified (such as a kitchen hand not having barista training or skills) or overqualified (such as an overseas trained accountant working as an accounts payable clerk to gain local entry level experience).
Skill gaps can occur because of technology, such as artificial intelligence and automation; education, while we have lots of graduates there are gaps in the basic skills such as literacy, numeracy and IT; and training, graduate roles are declining and the practices of taking on trainees is diminishing. Employers are prioritising experience over potential.
This presents a problem for both businesses and candidates. For businesses, it means there are less qualified and/or experienced staff and jobs take longer to fill. This can then have a further flow on effect, possibly resulting in lost productivity (not making and selling enough widgets), not being able to expand the business, overworking existing staff who may then suffer low morale from stress.
For candidates it may mean the need to retrain which can be a very daunting prospect. Firstly there is pressure to make the right decision regarding what course to undertake, followed by the time and effort to learn the new skills and the potential cost, including course fees other expenses such as equipment and course materials. All of this may need to be juggled with an existing job and family commitments.
If you believe that the skills gap might impact you there are some things that you can do about it, including a self-analyse of your existing skills, finding ways to close the gap (undertake training/get different experiences), know your work related strengths and be confident to sell yourself in order to get the job you want.
Let me help you to demonstrate your appeal to an employer by developing a strong resume and a crafted cover letter.
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If you have enjoyed this article, come back soon as I am going to write more on the skills gap next week.