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Workforce Development Is Everyone’s Business…Especially Yours

Reprinted with permission from ATD Publications

February 2016

Ann Parker

Community of Practice Manager, ATD

Eighty-four percent of respondents from a recent ATD survey say there is a skills gap in their organization. This is a staggering statistic, and an especially concerning one for the talent development executive. As a leader in this industry, no one understands better than you the need to develop the capabilities of your workforce today so that your organization thrives tomorrow. The reality that more than eight in 10 people report a skills gap in their workforce is a call to action—and an urgent one.  

ATD defines a skills gap as a significant gap between an organization’s current capabilities and the skills it needs to achieve its goals and meet customer demand. It is the point at which an organization may not be able to grow or remain competitive because it cannot fill critical jobs with employees who have the right knowledge, skills, and abilities. 

During the past 12 years ATD has tracked the skills gap through a series of research studies and corresponding whitepapers. The 2015 ATD Skills Gap Survey was fielded in May 2015, with input from talent development professionals with titles of manager and above, who serve in organizations of various sizes and industries. 

The resulting whitepaper, Bridging the Skills Gap: Workforce Development Is Everyone’s Business, discusses the changing nature of work and reasons behind the skills gap and provides recommendations for talent development professionals on steps they can take to identify and close skills gaps in their organizations. It concludes with case studies to illustrate these solutions in real-world contexts and an action plan for implementation.

Bridging the Skills Gap identifies some of the largest gaps occurring in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields and affecting middle-skills jobs, management and leadership roles, and communication and service capabilities. Many stakeholders are needed to effectively close these gaps, including the education-to-work pipeline, private and public sectors, and vocational training providers. 

You are especially needed. The whitepaper asserts: “Critical to all of this is the talent development professional. With deep expertise in adult learning and understanding of the need to have a knowledgeable and skilled workforce, talent development professionals will likely be the ones who will implement training strategies to bridge skill gaps that exist in organizations.” 

How will you help to close the skills gaps in your organization, starting today?

Author: Ann Parker

Community of Practice Manager, ATD 

Ann Parker is manager of the Human Capital Community of Practice and the Senior Leaders & Executives Community of Practice at ATD. Prior to this position, she worked at ATD for five years in an editorial capacity, primarily for TD magazine, and most recently as a senior writer and editor. In this role, Ann had the privilege to talk to many training and development practitioners, hear from a variety of prominent industry thought leaders, and develop a rich understanding of the profession's content.


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