These eight measures to counter the skilled worker shortage will solve your personnel problems
More than 50% of German companies see the skilled worker shortage as the greatest threat to their growth. It places a huge burden on existing staff. Without regular overtime, many companies struggle to maintain their operations. Plus, the skilled worker shortage slows down their growth, and limits or delays innovation. Are we at risk of economic stagnation?
The good news is that there are effective strategies and approaches to reverse this trend. In this article, we’ll suggest eight effective measures to counter the skilled worker shortage. We’ll also show you the potential of eLearning and digital personnel development.
A look at the challenges of the skilled worker shortage
It is taking longer and longer to fill vacancies. What once took weeks is now dragging on for months. The search for qualified personnel is becoming a test of patience. It can take up to 135 days to successfully fill a position (Federal Employment Agency: Skilled Worker Shortage Analysis, 2020). The skilled worker shortage does not discriminate by industry and affects companies of all sizes. According to statistics from the Kompetenzzentrum Fachkräftesicherung (Competence Centre for the Protection of Skilled Workers), there was an average shortage of 610,214 skilled workers in Germany in 2022/23. This has noticeable impacts on the companies concerned. In addition to productivity, corporate culture also suffers. A vicious circle that, in the worst case scenario, leads to the loss of more skilled workers.
The skilled worker shortage explained: A look at the causes
Influence of demographics
The birth rate in Germany has been declining for years, and our society is getting older. This means that fewer and fewer skilled workers are available. Some 3.9 million people are due to retire by 2030, rising to 10.2 million by 2060. All of which leaves a gap that needs to be filled, be it through immigration or through technological innovation.
Many industries are experiencing a rapid evolution of their technologies and working methods. But not every employee can keep pace with these developments. They may first need to improve their digital skills or their ability to use innovative technologies. This requires continuous education and training, as well as adaptability from both the employee and the company.
Competition in globalized markets
Globalization has impacted the labor market. Global networking and digitalization have given skilled professionals more options. Working from home, remote-first companies, etc., have added extra ammunition to the war for talent. Companies now have to compete internationally, and often do not offer the same attractive conditions as global competitors. However, digitalization is also an opportunity for companies to attract international talent and bring new knowledge and innovative technologies into the country.
Changed understanding of the world of work
The “New Work” movement reinterprets the old ideas of work-life balance. Today’s professionals are not just looking for a job, but for a position that offers flexibility and aligns with their personal values and life goals. Work has to fit into people’s lives, not the other way around. Companies that are unable or unwilling to meet these expectations often find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.
The shortage of skilled workers is not merely a matter of availability, but is deeply rooted in the structural changes in the labor market and the shifting demands and expectations of the workforce.
What are the consequences of the skilled worker shortage?
The skilled worker shortage affects companies in a wide variety of sectors. It limits growth and innovation capabilities. Productivity losses delay projects and product development. This is further intensified by restrictions on making the adjustments required to keep up with technological and industry-specific upheavals, such as AI (artificial intelligence). Many companies need to implement these quickly to maintain competitiveness, and train their employees in the safe, effective use of them. For existing employees, this results in an increased workload and stress, which in turn has a negative impact on their job satisfaction and quality of life. For companies, the high investments required for recruitment and training represent an additional high cost factor. In the long term, the skilled worker shortage is an enormous business and socio-economic risk. The following eight measures to counter the skilled worker shortage offer ways and means to minimize these risks.
Eight measures to counteract your skilled worker shortage
1. Ongoing training through eLearning
One key strategy in the fight against the skilled worker shortage is the ongoing training of current employees. eLearning enables staff to learn anytime, anywhere. This aligns perfectly with a world in which flexibility and self-determination in terms of one’s working life are becoming increasingly important. Targeted online courses and interactive learning modules support existing team members in strengthening skills that are in-demand. Regularly offering further training fosters the continuous development of your employees, ensuring they are always up to date with the latest knowledge.
Just imagine: Your workforce acquires new skills when they have a chance during their workday—whether in the office, at home or on the go. This type of training is not only efficient, but also increases your employees’ levels of satisfaction and commitment. eLearning helps you to prepare your company to face the challenges of tomorrow.
2. Activating dormant potential through retraining
Retraining is another effective tool to help you manage skills shortages internally. With targeted retraining programs, you can fully exploit your workforce’s existing, but dormant, potential. Acquiring new skills and competencies encourages staff to adapt to your company’s current needs. These programs give them the opportunity to develop new areas of expertise and bring fresh perspectives to their teams.
Investing in retraining not only encourages your workforce to develop their professional skills, but also increases engagement and loyalty. Investing in your employees strengthens the overall level of competence among your staff and makes your company resilient to the constant changes in the market.
3. Modern, customized, professional training
Future-oriented training effectively prepares tomorrow’s professionals to face current and future challenges. This requires a dynamic and forward-looking approach. Combining traditional education with innovative eLearning approaches creates a versatile and stimulating learning and working environment. It enables you to develop and strengthen the trainees’ core competencies in line with the constantly changing requirements.
On the one hand, this increases the attractiveness of your training programs for ambitious junior staff, while on the other, it also guarantees that your company is continuously supplied with well-trained, adaptable, and appropriately skilled professionals. A modern training strategy promotes the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Trainees become valuable employees who actively contribute to your company and make it future-proof.
4. Targeted recruitment: Specific channels, tailored form of address, success
Optimize your recruitment process by focusing on the channels where your target group spends the most time. Social media, specialist forums and industry networks are real goldmines for potential employees. Develop a way of addressing readers that not only informs them, but also excites them and creates a connection.
Use data and analytics to develop a deeper understanding of your target audience: What motivates them? What skills do they have? Use this to design campaigns that not only attract attention, but also appeal to the very talents that will make the difference to your company. Targeted recruitment is one of the most important strategies in successful staffing. It not only helps you overcome the shortage of skilled workers, but also promotes the further development of the company.
5. Networking: Key to attracting skilled workers
Active networking enables you to establish a presence in the industry environment that attracts talent and fosters long-term professional relationships. Use conferences, trade fairs, online platforms and similar offerings to make valuable contacts and position your company as an attractive employer. Build a robust network that includes not only people in the sector and industry experts, but also educational institutions and other organizations. Maintain a structured off-boarding program and keep in touch with former employees. Give them access to special offers such as newsletters or selected courses. If successful, this creates a lasting network that offers opportunities for future collaboration and recommendations.
Networking gives you access to the recommendations and insider information that make all the difference in recruitment. Strengthening your networking skills and deploying them strategically will help you make qualified contacts for your company.
6. Mentoring 4.0: Knowledge transfer with digital legacies
Implement a mentoring program within your company to ensure the treasure trove of experience your long-term employees hold is preserved and passed on. The value really becomes apparent when skilled workers with a lot of expertise retire or leave the company. Ask these experts to record their valuable knowledge and experience in specially created eLearning courses. These can then become a permanent resource for current and future team members.
Imagine the knowledge and insights of your most experienced professionals remaining in the company permanently, and benefiting new generations of employees. This form of mentoring creates a lasting culture of learning in your company and ensures that valuable expertise is retained.
7. Employer branding: Your brand as a magnet to attract skilled workers
Solidify your employer branding and develop a convincing employer value proposition (EVP) to position yourself as an attractive company. This enables you to clearly communicate what you offer your employees and why it is worthwhile being part of your team. Focus on what makes the company unique, be it development opportunities, corporate culture or unusual benefits. An authentic and appealing brand presentation not only attracts talent, but also promotes loyalty and satisfaction among the current workforce. Positioning your company clearly and attractively helps you stand out from the competition and make you indispensable for qualified professionals.
8. Work culture as the key to success: Quality, culture, processes
Invest in work quality, cultivate a strong corporate culture, and optimize your work processes. This triad is at the heart of every successful company. High quality work ensures satisfied customers and employees. With a positive and inclusive corporate culture, skilled workers are attracted to and remain in the company. Efficient, transparent work processes increase productivity and reduce frustration. Create an environment in which talent can develop and flourish. You’ll see how this is then reflected in a low turnover rate and a stronger employer brand. Your efforts in these areas are a clear message to potential applicants: This is a company that values its people and invests in their success.
The bottom line.
Strategic, simultaneous implementation of these measures both opens up new ways to attract talent and promotes the development and retention of your existing workforce. It enables you and your company to not only meet your immediate staffing needs, but also position yourself as an attractive option for specialists in the long term, and attract and retain them in a lasting employment relationship. This holistic approach is essential to ensure competitiveness. It promotes sustainable company growth in our ever-changing labor market. A proactive, adaptable HR strategy allows you to master the challenges of tomorrow and successfully lead your company into the future.
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