The biggest skills gaps and how you can narrow them?

What are the biggest skills gaps and how can you broaden your portfolio of skills

Based on data collected in the annual Global skills gap report, communication is one of the main skills that employers think graduates lack. This data echoes research carried out by gradireland as part of the graduate salary and graduate recruitment trends survey which found that 46% of employers found graduates to be lacking when it came to that specific soft skill.

Why is this the case and can you do anything about it?

One reason as to why this shortfall exists was suggested by Cheryl Cran, a management coach and author of The Art of Change Leadership, “As technology continues to infiltrate how we work, our human interaction skills need to be upgraded”.

As technology improves, the need for face-to-face interaction has become less prevalent. Meeting requests can be sent via e-mail, texts are sent instead of phone calls and questions can be asked via e-mail even if the person’s advice you are seeking is ten steps away from your desk. Many jobs require you to meet with clients daily as well as dealing with your colleagues and members of the public. In a group meeting you will need to vocalise your points in a clear and concise manner rather then expressing it through e-mail.

If technology is negating the need for human interaction, how can you improve your communication skills?

There are many opportunities at third level to greatly improve your communication; joining clubs/organisations which require you to deal with people regularly, engaging in a team sport, start a part-time job. These may seem like small and maybe even obvious steps but given that employers are citing communication as a skill lacking amongst graduates, it may not be as obvious as it first appears. Improving this soft skill could really give you the edge when it comes to interviews for graduate positions.

According to the Global skills gap report, A lack of knowledge and communication between students and employers is likely driving these skills gaps. Whilst this falls on both students and employers to fix, educators do have a responsibility to communicate what skills students should be developing whilst at university. Part of the issue is likely attributable to the fact that some highly valued skills are not necessarily teachable, instead they’re developed over time during one’s professional life.

A sector specific shortfall that was identified was data skills in the medical/healthcare industry and creativity is the second biggest in the technology sector.

These skills may not be directly applicable to those sectors, for example having a great attention to detail and admirable problem-solving skills are vital for jobs in both the technology and medical sector but if you want to get ahead, upskilling in creativity and data could give you the edge when it comes to getting that dream job.

Every individual posses a skill-set and within that set some skills are better than others. It’s important to recognise what skills you need to improve and always be on the lookout for upskilling opportunities. Being aware of your own shortcomings and what graduate employers are looking for in a candidate are vital and with more information available than ever before, it’s important to use all the tools at your disposal in order to get ahead of the competition.