The U.S. workforce is in the midst of a tech talent shortage. There are currently not enough skilled tech workers to meet the demands of the booming tech industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job openings in the tech industry are projected to grow 13% from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations. Additionally, McKinsey asserts that finding skilled tech talent will be a formidable challenge in the years to come.

It’s clear that the workplace of the future will continue to demand tech skills. So how can organizations and workers adjust to meet this growing demand? A key way to future-proof your workforce is to gain a clear understanding of the areas in which your technologists have high levels of expertise and areas where they may be struggling. This concrete, data-driven knowledge can be achieved through skills assessments. Here are some ways you can utilize skills assessments in order to close employee skill gaps and execute towards business goals.

Skills Assessments: The What and Why

Skills assessments are tools used by employers and individuals to gauge competency in key subject matter areas. Simply put, a skills assessment is a way to evaluate how fluent someone is in a given skill. Skills assessments come in a variety of forms and areas of focus, ranging from soft skills to hard skills, to technical skills.

Skills assessments can be powerful tools for demystifying skills gaps, allowing businesses to make objective decisions on how best to close those gaps. Research suggests that up to 87% of companies have skills gaps within their organization. Oftentimes, these skills gaps are related to technical proficiencies in areas with large impact to businesses, such as cybersecurity and cloud computing, making these gaps detrimental if unaddressed.

This is where skills assessments come in. By utilizing skills assessments, organizations are able to take factual data into account when deciding how to best upskill their employees. There are a variety of different skills assessment tools on the market that test for proficiency in tech skills. A variety of organizations also offer skills assessments that target soft and hard skills. The most important element is choosing the right skills assessment for your employees that will give you the best information on how to close their skills gaps.

Finding Synergy Between Data and Practice

All good business decisions should be based on data. Identifying and closing skills gaps are no exception. According to research from PwC, data-driven organizations are three times more likely to see significant improvements in decision-making than organizations that rely less on data.

So how does data-driven decision making help organizations in practice?

Consider this scenario:

Suppose an organization has anecdotal evidence to support the idea that the biggest skills gap among employees is related to automation of business processes. Leadership sinks valuable time and resources into helping their technologists become more proficient in automation technologies. Meanwhile, the organization suffers a major cybersecurity breach because the technologists were not up to date on current cybersecurity best practices.

If that organization instead had invested in identifying skills gaps through data driven tools such as skills assessments, there could have been a stronger alignment between data and action, allowing the organization to put the right resources into the right places. While this example is hypothetical, it’s meant to draw attention to the risks of making business decisions without data.

According to Statista, in 2021, U.S. organizations spent over $92B on corporate training and development programs. With this level of investment being put into strengthening the workforce, it’s more important than ever to ensure that this investment is making a difference. Resources like skills assessments help ensure that technologists are getting the development opportunities that they truly need.

Building Future-Proof Teams

Making the proper upskilling investments through data-driven insights goes beyond an organization’s bottom line. If done correctly, upskilling initiatives have the potential to transform an organization’s talent from the inside, making them better prepared for the future.

This is especially true for technical roles. In 2022, every company is a tech company. One of the best things that organizations can do for themselves is ensure that their technology teams are constantly learning and developing their skills. Tech skills that were relevant just two years ago are becoming obsolete today. Obsolete skills coupled with the growing tech talent shortage makes investing in closing your employees’ skills gaps a business imperative.

For most organizations, closing these skills gaps will take more effort than just diagnosing the problem. It will necessitate a cultural shift that forces companies to create from within the talent they desperately need. Skills assessments are an essential first step into an organization’s learning transformation, allowing businesses to objectively identify the areas where their employees are strongest, and the areas where they are missing the mark. With this data in hand, organizations can set out to create a future-proof workforce.