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2023 – it’s all about soft skills…

In a recent report from SHrM, HR professionals were asked to identify existing the skill gaps in their business. 37% of respondents found gaps in the areas of problem-solving, critical thinking, innovation and creativity. 32% of respondents confirmed that the ability to deal with complexity and ambiguity was a weakness, closely followed by 31% of respondents who said there were gaps in communication skills.

This position has not improved over the last 2 years with over 50% of respondents feeling that the skills shortages have worsened or greatly worsened in that time. So how do we bridge the skills gap?

The most effective remedies identified were:

  • Provide on-site training to employees
  • Starting/expanding training programs to help improve skills of new hires
  • Hiring external workforce
  • Increasing compensation
  • Improving retention efforts for current employees.

The results for Europe show that 45% of respondents feel that training is the solution and a further 49% a combination of training and hiring.

For hiring to be the solution, the way we conduct recruitment needs to change, with a greater weight put on exploring how people behave and develop solutions / outcomes, not what they developed.


Technology will also influence workforce strategy. A recent article by McKinsey that looks at the effect that automation and AI will have on the workforce, backs up the SHrM findings. They espouse that in the future there will be a great demand for social and emotional skills such as leadership and managing others, whilst data inputting and processing skills etc will decline (as well and manual and physical skills). Demand for higher cognitive skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, decision making, and complex information processing, will grow to 2030.

Organisation impact

Companies will need to change shape whilst addressing these skill shifts to stay competitive. 3,000 business leaders in seven countries were surveyed and the results highlight a new emphasis on continuous learning. Also, employers will need to encourage more cross-functional and team-based work. Jobs will need to be redefined to reflect the new tasks and the agility of companies will need to improve.

With the current difficulty in filling vacancies (just look at the number of jobs advertised on LinkedIn at the moment) hiring might not be viable, so surely a good route to closing this gap is to create a learning curriculum that not only develops technical skills but also soft skills.

How is your L&D curriculum looking? Is it ready for these new challenges?

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