A 6-Step Skill Acquisition Strategy for Success

Strategic skill acquisition initiatives can increase revenues and reduce attrition. Simply put, they help companies recruit today for tomorrow’s roles.

Organizations often resort to hiring new employees when talent problems arise, but it is not always an optimal solution. It is often expensive, time consuming, and disruptive. For instance, a study by Center for American Progress found that hiring a new employee to replace a lost one can cost up to 213 percent of the previous one’s salary. Therefore, in the current digital economy, it makes sense for companies to focus on a skill acquisition strategy that retains employees rather than a policy of constantly hiring new employees.

Intangible aspects such as recruiting components, onboarding, lost productivity/engagement, customer service, and cultural impact often are unacknowledged. A WorkTrends.com study found that one in every three employees wants to change jobs within the first six months. However, upskilling can positively influence employee retention and motivation.

For companies embedded with modern technologies, such a strategy also can help them capitalize on industry trends and adopt preemptive measures for future developments. Anticipating skill needs in the knowledge economy can enhance a company’s reputation as an attractive workplace, and that makes it vital for success.

Today’s workforce is dominated by Millennials, a group that wants to add value and deliver impact. Rather than fancy perks at the office, this generation is more concerned with job satisfaction and career advancement. A skills acquisition strategy, thus, can cater to such aspirations and motivate Millennials to stay longer and work harder.

When it comes to skill acquisition, companies must decide which skills to impart and how. This requires intricate planning and choosing the right training partner. This is a costly process, but it ultimately costs less than hiring a new employee for every role. These six steps can shape an effective process.

The 6-Step Skill Acquisition Process

1. Weigh Skills Deficit Vs. Potential

Before beginning, organizations should determine which skills need to be developed and where the gaps lie with existing employees. Locating these gaps and filling them with trending skills can boost morale and loyalty. It also can result in reduced recruitment costs. To determine if a company needs training, hiring, or a mix, it needs to ask itself:

  • What skills are needed?
  • Can these skills be incorporated into the skillsets of current employees?
  • Can skills be taught to multiple employees?
  • If so, which of these skills are needed the most?

2. Assess Comprehensive Process Goals

An organization that sets and pursues clear training objectives from the beginning reaps the greatest benefits. Such objectives ensure that training is conducted with the long-term vision of the company in mind, and that its ROI is measurable. This also aids in teambuilding and the standardization of processes/skills. The goals need to indicate:

  • Key skills to be taught
  • Outcomes of these skills
  • Merging skills with company objectives
  • Effect on billing and profits

3. Choose Specialist Training Providers

Training processes can benefit from the expertise provided by specialist vendors. While pinpointing an ideal trainer based on courses, methodologies, and price is an arduous task, it is profitable in the long term. Some key aspects to remember are:

  • The vendor’s core competency
  • The dominant training model
  • Course structure and assessments
  • Real-world instructors and updated material
  • Tracking and certification availability

4. Incentivize Training for Impact and Adoption

Successful training needs to engage a larger audience. Some employees are self-motivated, while others require incentives in order to partake in training processes. The best incentive programs enhance performance levels by 44 percent and don’t have to be expensive or monetary in nature to succeed. Some common examples of good incentives are:

  • Public praise and completion certifications
  • Networking events and graduation ceremonies
  • Gift cards or corporate branded gear
  • Paid time off or flex-time options
  • Job promotions (or avoiding penalties for non-completion)

5. Measure Collective Results

No training mandate is complete without accurate measurement of results. With the right tracking mechanism in place, progress can be tracked, obstacles can be monitored, and success can be celebrated. Most vendors provide detailed monitoring dashboards to calculate ROI and share feedback. This is especially necessary for larger organizations. Some of the metrics to measure are:

  • Course engagement and experience
  • Meeting point of learnings and preset objectives
  • Behavioral change in employees and company
  • Improved long-term productivity, retention, revenue, and morale

6. Predict Future Roles and Prepare Employees

The end goal of training is to set up companies for a future in which they can predict industry trends and future opportunities for their employees. Filling roles internally with adequately skilled employees already on the payroll is indicative of a well-oiled machine. Strategic skill acquisition initiatives can increase revenues and reduce attrition massively. Simply put, it allows companies to recruit today for tomorrow’s roles.

Skill Training Is an Investment, Not an Expense

With strategic training programs, companies can nurture relevant skills that meet immediate and future needs. While this process requires hiring trainers, building modules, and measuring progress, the immediate and long-term benefits outweigh any demands on resources, such as time and money. Armed with e-learning and virtual classrooms that make flexible training possible, employees now can be trained anytime and anywhere. Ultimately, companies need to start viewing skill training as a crucial investment and not a frivolous expense in order to succeed.

Krishna Kumar, founder and CEO of Simplilearn, reimagined education for future working professionals. Kumar strongly feels that technology can be used to make learning more accessible and to personalize the learner experience. An entrepreneur at heart, Kumar believes in continual improvement and the need to stay focused on achieving goals. This remains the guiding philosophy at Simplilearn. What started in 2009 as a blog in Bangalore, India, has transformed into the multinational e-learning company, Simplilearn, one of the largest digital economy training providers in the world today. Simplilearn has a blended learning approach and combines online classes, live virtual classrooms, projects, and teaching support. Before Simplilearn, Kumar was the co-founder and COO at software product company TechUnified, which he exited in 2007 after selling it to a publicly held company. He started his career as a software engineer with Infosys and has a Bachelor of Engineering degree from NIT, Surathkal, India.


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