Mind the skills gap eyb magazine


Training, professional development, CPD…call it what you will, we all know we need to do it and most of us genuinely believe in its value but how many of us really understand the return on our investment? How many of us know how to identify and prioritise training needs? And how many of us really get the most from our training budgets?

Here’s how to maximise the benefits, impact and return on training undertaken in your setting.

Where are the gaps?

This identification stage is the perfect time to undertake a skills gap analysis. This involves a number of steps the first of which will of course be sharing your plans with the staff team ensuring they understand why you are carrying out skills gap analysis and are confident that the results will help them and the business…after all shared aims are achievable aims!

Link with business values

Next you need to establish your business values, targets and key performance indicators; this enables you to specify the skills and competencies needed across your team to deliver on your goals. A good way to do this is to split the skills and competencies into must haves and nice to haves, the must haves will include regulatory requirements and business critical skills, the nice to haves are all those extras that bring added value and create a team with a broad and comprehensive range of knowledge and experience. You may want to link this to your setting improvement plan and self-evaluation activity and remember to include transferable and life skills in your reckoning.

Get your team involved

Now you know the skills required and how these support your business aims it’s time to identify the gaps. This can be done on an individual, role specific, room team or full staff team basis. Consideration should be given to each skill, qualification or competency required, stipulate what these look like in practice and does the individual or group being assessed have them in place.  Get the team involved and ask them what they consider are the gaps in their own and the wider team’s skills. At this early stage it’s a good idea to look at your existing training practice, ask yourself pertinent questions such as:

  • What is good about it?
  • What really works?
  • And of course what could be improved?

This is another area where your team will be able to provide valuable information.

Create a training matrix

Armed with your self-evaluation, your setting improvement plan, your clearly identified and shared business aims and your skills gap analysis outcome you will be in the perfect position to identify and prioritise the training needs within your team. You can create a detailed training matrix that shows high level information on training needs across the team, this will then inform a SMART training plan and individual learner profiles for each staff member. This may all sound like a lot of work but there are organisations out there that can help you with this that may provide a free full team skills gap analysis creating all the required reports, showing prioritised training needs and identifying funding and special offers for training delivery.

Well planned, effective and on-going professional development enhances morale, makes individuals and teams more efficient, cascades new practice, knowledge and theories and improves business performance. The impact is measurable and the outcomes for all stakeholders in your setting will improve.

So skills gap analysis is a valuable tool and one that is effective in enhancing service standards and improving business performance, yet still there’s more. Added benefits of effective skills gap analysis are talent spotting to detect those individuals with the attitude and aptitude to be future leaders, supporting succession planning and career development within the team. Even straightforward recruitment can be more efficient if you know the skills of the existing team and can bring in new team members with the complementary skills to complete your line up.

Finally remember it’s an on-going process and applied well contributes greatly to your continuous improvement cycle.

Susan McGhee is Commercial Director for Bertram Nursery Group– Nursery World Nursery Chain of the Year 2013 & BNG Early Years Training