A team of 7 employees sitting on and around a cluster of desks

Closing the Skills Gap with Mentoring

It's expected that the skills gap will affect nearly every organization. Recent research states that forty percent of organizations currently have skill gaps and within 10 years all but 13% of organizations expect to be in the same boat. What's the cause and how do we fix it?

What causes skills gaps?

There are a few causes of the skills gaps we see today. One being the advancement of technology. What we could only dream of a decade ago are reality and tech is only developing from here. The pandemic brought on many things, and one of them was an acceleration to the already rapidly growing technology space. We're hearing more about machine learning, AI, and the metaverse than even a few months ago.

Organizations have significant needs for soft skills including higher cognitive and social & emotional skills. This is driven by a shift in demand. Decades ago, companies needed workers who had specific hard skills. However, technological advances have made many jobs obsolete. Now organizations need innovators, problem solvers, communicators, and leaders.

How do we close the skills gap?

There are two questions HR professionals want the answers to regarding the skills gap at their organization.

  1. What are the skill gaps at our organization?
  2. How to we close the skill gaps?

The best way to uncover skills gaps is through a skill gap analysis or learning needs analysis. By comparing the skills individuals have with the skills they need now or to be future ready, you can identify the needs of your workforce.

The most common ways organizations address their skills gaps are

  • reskilling
  • hiring
  • contracting

Often, individuals are trained regularly within their departments to stay up to date with new trends in the industry or to adopt new processes or technology. However, your assessment may reveal that many of the skills individuals lack can be acquired through knowledge sharing within your organization.

Reskilling brings the most benefits to organizations and individuals. It is usually the most cost effective, too. 73% of employees report that their organization's reskilling efforts have improved their level of satisfaction. With results like that, many organizations develop internal talent development strategies to address their unique gaps.

Mentoring to address the Skills Gap

Mentoring is the creation of a partnership between two people where the need for knowledge sharing is recognized. Mentors are an advisor to the mentee who seeks to develop their skills within their career.  Sharing knowledge and experience goes both ways and the focus of the partnership can be on both hard and soft skills. The flexibility of mentoring makes it a great option for individualized skill development.

5 Tips for a using mentoring to close the skills gap:

  1. Conduct an annual skill gap analysis Measuring employee skills annually is one way to understand the variety of skills across your organization and truly future ready your teams over time. Additionally it provides insight into the effectiveness of your learning and development initiatives.

  2. Structure Your Program There are a variety of types of mentoring, the one you use will depend the needs of your organization. Are your senior employees missing skills junior employees have mastery over? Maybe reverse mentoring is right. Focusing on critical thinking or problem solving skills? Group mentoring or mentoring circles might provide the just right structure for participants to develop these skills in a group setting.

  3. Market Your Program Individuals are looking for development opportunities and organizations want continuously growing and developing employees. A mentoring program for skills development is a win-win, but only if people know about it. Promote the program, fine tuning the messaging to clearly share the objective. Once established, share success stories to get the right people involved.

  4. Match based on skills When launching any mentoring program it's important to align all elements to the organizational objective you're addressing. This includes matching criteria. Pairing mentees with a mentor that has mastery of the skills they need to develop is a great start.

    Keep the goals of your program top of mind. Losing organizational knowledge due to a high number of retirees? Consider who should gain their knowledge and pair accordingly. We all know that only so much knowledge comes through documentation. Is there a need to reskill? Pair mentees with a mentor who has a role they want to know more about. Through the engagement, the mentor can share their knowledge and experience and advise on career pathing.

  5. Train Mentors Some people think that someone who is good at something would make a great mentor. However, this is not always the case. Training helps people who are willing to be a mentor learn what is expected in their role of mentor and how to fulfill the needs of their mentee. Especially when it comes to mentoring to close the skills gap, make sure your very experienced and knowledgable mentors know how to best support their mentees.

At Insala, we've helped organizations implement and scale mentoring programs that have effectively reduced the skills gap and help future ready their workforce. If you're interested in launching a new mentoring program check out these other resources or book a demo with our team today to discuss how Insala can help you deliver an effective mentoring program.

Additional Resources
eBook: How to Start a Mentoring Program
eBook: A Guide to Marketing Your Mentoring Program
webinar: Your 2022 Mentoring Strategy
blog: Facilitating Leadership Development through Management Mentoring

Judy is the Director of Consulting and Mentoring at Insala. She has over 30 years of experience providing customized human resources consulting services to medium to large organizations across a variety of industries. In the area of mentoring, Judy has designed and delivered workshops, training, and a complete mentoring methodology. Judy’s mentoring process is the foundation of Insala’s mentoring solution we know today. Her thought leadership articles have been published in journals such as The Diversity Journal and Industrial and Commercial Training and she has spoken at many conferences throughout her career.


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