Seven ways an LMS can fill skills gaps
A 2019 report by the UK’s Learning and Work Institute estimated that the skills deficit will cost the country £120 billion by 2030. The need to upskill and reskill our workforces is clear, but where do we start? A good place is with an LMS.
Identifying the gaps
At the macro level the problem may be obvious and stark, but how do you identify skills gaps at the micro-level of individual organizations? That requires an analysis and audit of current levels and an understanding of what skills will be needed – not only to bridge the current gap but also to meet future requirements.
Where there’s a lag in performance, you need detailed analysis into the cause of this and the deficit between current and potential performance. That potential is measured against an organization’s values and goals and in terms of the competencies required to carry out roles and tasks.
You can start by conducting an audit of current skills levels from the top down throughout the organization. Rate each skill according to its importance and need. Then measure the competencies and skills of the people in your organization. A simple formula identifies the gap: desired skills – available skills = current skills gap.
How an LMS helps
The calculation is simple once you have the data, but you need tools to assess competencies and skillsets. An LMS allows you to check skill levels by assessing retention of knowledge after training and using simulated, performance-based assessment tasks to check current skills levels.
Assessment data is recorded and stored in the LMS and you can easily run reports or dashboards, making it easier to keep track of skills. Analytics tools allow you to identify trends and quickly pinpoint gaps. Visualizing the gaps paves the way for prioritized and customized learning interventions.
Closing the gaps
Analyzing where the gaps lie is only half the job. The LMS completes the task by providing the means to bridge those gaps.
1. Creating learning paths
Your skills audit will probably throw up a range of differing abilities and competencies across the organization. That’s barely surprising given the varying levels of experience and expertise among employees. There will be some who will need to upskill and others who may need to reskill completely. Given the complexity and urgency of bridging gaps across the organization you can’t trust it all to a uniform training program. What you need are individual learning plans and paths formulated and delivered by an LMS. These pathways allow for individual development, tailored to the requirements of the job role, tasks and potential trajectory of the person involved. You can use the LMS to monitor and check progress and to personalize the learning required to move along the path.
2. Increasing accessibility
Once you’ve personalized your approach to training, you have to support it by allowing people to access what they need where they need it. Training is too often behind closed doors. But by digitizing content and using an LMS to curate and deploy it across devices you open up information and knowledge and allow individuals to take charge of their learning. They are the people confronting the skills gap in their jobs daily and are most incentivized to act to plug the gaps in their knowledge.
3. Enabling just-in-time learning
Sometimes when we talk of a skill gap it’s in an abstract and general way. We often overlook the fact that skills gaps appear at pressing moments when someone is prevented from doing their job or moving on.
The concept of just-in-time learning addresses the need for immediate access to information that allows people to address a problem or find a solution in the here and now. Because it can host and serve up targeted information in a variety of formats an LMS makes just-in-time learning a reality. It facilitates a micro-learning strategy that allows people to find the right information at the right place and time and digest it quickly.
4. Embedding learning in the workflow
To have real meaning and impact learning needs to be part of working and to be located fully in the workflow. The nature of skills gaps is that they aren’t uniform, can arise anywhere and need to be addressed urgently. We need to move from courses to resources that keep people in work performing and learning while they’re doing so. Learning by doing and applying what you’ve learned in your work are the most efficient ways of acquiring and retaining knowledge. By providing the resources employees need, at the point of need, an LMS keeps people in work and responds to their individual learning and development needs. From an organization’s point of view, it means less expensive and disruptive training and keeps people performing.
5. Enabling better performance
As well as enabling these training interventions and strategies, an LMS is a useful tool for monitoring and assessing progress. It can record how often information is accessed and when and how it’s used, so L&D can adjust their learning resources and approaches accordingly.
It enables regular assessments and checks on knowledge retention and application. Its personalized recommendation and notification features alert people to learning opportunities to upskill and reskill. A series of automatically generated reminders help employees keep to learning paths, and a system of digital badging recognizes KPIs, performance and achievement and motivates learners. Digital certification with built-in expiry dates helps maintain compliance and underlines the need to keep skills current. These features and the data and insights they produce support the monitoring and evaluation of performance to identify emerging skills gaps.
6. Expanding the learning base
An LMS is not a static tool. It’s an agile, flexible, and responsive training resource and support mechanism. It can curate large quantities of learning resources ranging from whole digital courses to small posts from individuals. LMSs can also be used to record informal learning, those ephemeral moments where knowledge is passed from an experienced hand to a less experienced colleague. Skills gaps are erratic, so the fact that some people lack certain skills doesn’t mean that others won’t have them. One way of closing the gap between individuals’ skill levels is to encourage knowledge sharing.
An LMS can be a tool for capturing and then sharing knowledge that resides in individuals and disappears when they move on. Learning Management Systems act as a conduit for peer-to-peer and social learning and mentoring. These lateral, less formal avenues to upskilling have a more immediate and lasting impact.
7. Enabling continuous learning
Learning paths emphasize that learning is a continuum. LMSs make continuous learning a reality. They provide a holistic approach to training accommodating instructor-led, blended and social learning and diverse forms of content. The LMS repository can be constantly added to and quickly updated. Content can be repurposed and adapted for different audiences. Assessment tools help create a feedback loop that enables you to identify gaps and address them swiftly, fast-tracking reskilling. The continuity of learning delivered in the workflow places your training ahead of the curve.
Benefitting from a Leaning Platform
The skills gap is real and growing. In Learning Management Systems, we have the tools to identify where gaps are occurring and the means to eradicate them. Using a Learning Platform to make learning continuous not only removes current skills gaps but also helps ensure disparities don’t recur and future gaps don’t arise. The benefit to people is that they receive the training they need to perform and progress. The benefit to the business is that you realize the potential of your own employees, improve staff retention and development, and keep reskilling in house, positively impacting your organization’s ability to perform and remain competitive.
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