The shortage of skilled workers has by no means been solved by the Corona crisis. Mass layoffs, economic warnings, short-time work: Corona is bringing the labor market to its knees, with no end to the pandemic in sight. However, anyone who thinks they can sit back and relax in the fight for the best talent and best skills is mistaken.

Covid-19 infection rates are rising worldwide, and only a few countries appear to have the new coronavirus under control. This is bad news for the vast majority of companies: The event industry is completely down, tourism and hospitality are once again struggling with border closures and accommodation bans, and industry and trade continue to suffer from massive export slumps. The shortage of skilled workers, which was omnipresent just a few months ago, no longer seems to be an issue in many places. Of course: When it is no longer a question of growth but of pure survival, the recruitment of new talent with specialist skills is naturally at the bottom of the priority list.

Specialist shortage will keep employers busy

However, in the medium term, the shortage of skilled workers will remain a challenge, at least for the digital economy, healthcare, and STEM professions (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). It will reignite the battle for the best talent. These are the findings of a recent survey by international employer branding consultancy Universum. According to the study, 86 percent of global companies firmly believe that new employees’ needs will remain at a high level in the coming year or even increase.

More than every second (56 percent) of the most attractive employers assume that the battle for the best talents and the shortage of skilled labor will intensify in the coming months. For them, recruitment freezes or passive recruiting are therefore out of the question.

They know: Those who stay on the ball now will gain critical competitive advantages in the fight for the best talents and against the shortage of skilled workers after the corona pandemic. To avoid being completely disadvantaged by top employers in the future, companies should not put their recruiting activities on ice completely but rather get themselves in a strong starting position at a good time. Pay particular attention to the following aspects:

Step 1 against skills shortage: Strengthen your public image

Adidas, Google, Bayer, or Bosch – not every company has such a high level of awareness. It will be critical for small and medium-sized companies, in particular, to strengthen their employer brand in a targeted manner. This will not only help in contracting potential candidates but also strengthens employee loyalty and thus counteracts the shortage of skilled workers. A crucial aspect of nipping any likely attempts at poaching from outside in the bud, so that skilled labor does not leave the company in the first place.

Step 2 against skills shortage: Offering prospects

Against the background of scarce resources and limited recruiting budgets, post-corona recruiting should first be focused on strategically important positions and skills. After all, experience shows that these are incredibly difficult to fill. This skill shortage will not change in the future. It makes it all the more essential to convince suitable skilled candidates. Important arguments in this regard: versatile development opportunities and attractive working conditions. This, by the way, is also an excellent way to score points with young skilled workers with high potentials. Because while in the past they were reluctant to commit themselves to a company, this trend seems to be coming to an end: According to a study, one in three Generation Z job entrants wants to stay at their first job for more than four years, while only 6 percent still see their luck in the “Gig Economy”.

Step 3 against skills shortage: Staying in touch

Those who keep their eyes open now, address suitable applicants in a targeted manner, conduct exploratory talks and actively keep interesting skilled candidates on the pole will be ahead in the fight for the best talents after the pandemic. After all, experience shows that it often takes weeks or months to find the potential skilled specialist for an open position. To establish contact with the right skilled employees now is more important for companies than ever. Young employees, in particular, appreciate this: 81 percent of job starters think it is important to stay in contact with employers – even if they currently have no open positions to offer. Thinking ahead is, therefore, the motto.

 

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As part of the digital transformation and dynamic advances in technology, companies and institutions must reckon much more seriously than before with the question: Are our teams still up-to-date? Do they have the skills required for handling the coming challenges? Do we have all the skills internally that we need to achieve our goals? Technical topics and related applications, services and devices are evolving rapidly during this time, so companies should start competence building with dynamic sources such as seminars, training and courses and with instructors who follow this dynamic development also in the real world. The learner should always be in focus, so as a company it makes sense to deal with different learning formats. According to the scientist Hermann Ebbinghaus, the retention and recall by skilled workers depends on the type of material to be learned. Classic classroom training or face-to-face seminars play an important role in the range of analog and digital learning formats. The advantages: immediate communication, promotion of personal learning and practice in a quiet, safe place where the learner can concentrate fully on the learning process and content. Learning is intensified through group interaction, where participants learn from each other and from the trainer.

Classic classroom training, blended learning, XR solutions. Do you want to learn more about learning strategies and formats? Detailed information about classic and innovative learning concepts for increasing your operational excellence can be found here:

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“Not for school, for life, we learn.” The Roman philosopher Seneca already knew that. The logical consequence of this realization is lifelong learning. We will show you how to stay on the ball with the right learning strategy.

App developers, data scientists, Artificial Intelligence experts: Digitization is already creating numerous new job profiles. According to estimates by the World Economic Forum, 65 percent of children attending primary school today will end up in occupations that do not yet exist. On the other hand, traditional craft trades, for example, will increasingly disappear from the scene.

Anyone who wants to gain a foothold in the professional world of tomorrow has to be flexible and open to new ideas. One thing’s for sure: At a time when employees are constantly confronted with changing conditions and requirements, it is important to learn and have the right learning strategies at hand. And not only in studies and training. It’s best to do it for life. Whether education courses, e-learning, webinars, coaching, training, or certifications – the offer of possibilities is vast.

Nevertheless, only every second person makes use of learning strategies. Some shy away from the effort, others fear to fail because of the learning material. No wonder, after all, it has been several years since many employees last went to school. And some people already had a hard time learning back then. This makes it all the more significant to relearn or re-learn the targeted (intentional) or incidental (implicit) acquisition of new skills. With the right learning strategy, nothing can stop learning success, even for adults. You should consider the following points:

  • Set schedule
    Unstructured and unorganized learning rarely leads to success. Instead, you should define fixed learning times for yourself. It is better to learn an hour every day than to spend the whole weekend studying. Tip: An organizer helps you to prioritize tasks and process them in a targeted manner.
  • Define milestones
    Intermediate goals ensure that the motivation to learn does not diminish over time. So set different sub-goals right from the start – and reward yourself if one of them is achieved. The advantage is that you can easily keep an eye on both the path you have already reached and the path ahead of you.
  • Determine personal learning style
    While some people expand their knowledge through the consumption of specialist books, others learn better through listening, watching or trying out. Find out whether you are a visual, auditory, motor, or communicative learner. You can then put together the best learning strategy or techniques for yourself.
  • Use suitable tools
    There are a number of different methods for internalizing the teaching material: from the classic index card system, to notes, mind maps and learning posters, to practical experiments and learning groups, help to anchor numbers, data and facts permanently in the brain.
  • Learning with all senses
    The more sensory channels are involved in the learning process, the better what has been learned is internalized. Who only listens during learning, keeps 20 percent of the teaching material, who uses eye and ear, already 50 percent remain in the memory. It is best to bundle visual, auditory, motor and communicative tools. Because then the memory rate even rises up to 90 percent.
  • Creating (free) spaces for learning
    Just insert a short learning unit on the sofa during the TV commercial break? Forget it! Learning requires concentration. The prerequisites for a good learning strategy are a calm atmosphere, a fixed learning location and regular breaks in which the brain can process the information it has acquired.
  • Bringing in a horizon of experience
    Children usually learn faster, while adults benefit from a wealth of knowledge acquired over the years. Use this so-called “crystalline intelligence” learning strategy and link the subject with your personal experiences and insights. This improves your learning success.
  • Keep moving
    Movement activates the motor centers of your brain that are involved in the processing and storage of information. In other words, content is easier to internalize if you move while learning. So when you’re learning, get up from time to time and take a few steps.
  • Practice, practice, practice!
    Practice makes your learning strategy perfect: regular training enables what has been learned to be permanently anchored in the brain. Never rest on your laurels, but also repeat knowledge that you have already mastered.

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Active competence management: door opener for a successful future

Effective competence management is an important instrument that many companies still criminally neglect. Although digital transformation places new and different demands on employees more than ever before. How can companies meet this challenge? The answer is to establish successful competence management.

Whether it is the first industrial revolution or digital change: well-trained employees and managers have always been indispensable for companies. What has changed with the fourth industrial revolution is the fact that almost every industry is currently experiencing serious upheavals in an unprecedented dynamic asking for a proper competence management. Artificial intelligence and information retrieval systems provide information within seconds, analyze facts and make forecasts faster than any human being can.

The knowledge-based society involves a change of paradigms. Competence management experts know pure technical and methodological knowledge is no longer sufficient to meet the challenges of the future. What is almost more important is what employees do with their skills, how they tackle problems in practice. Especially in complex situations, in which the known rules, old knowledge and skills are no longer sufficient to solve the problem, employees must be able to solve the unknown challenge themselves. And this is exactly what they need, the appropriate competence in several fields of action. This requires new learning spaces and new learning concepts through further training – and the introduction of systematic competence management.

Competencies are not “skills”

But: What exactly is competence management? Active and strategic competence management is an important tool to deploy employees according to their qualifications, to promote their careers and to pursue the competence requirements of the company which are necessary to achieve the goals they have set themselves.

The basis for competence management is a competence model that lists or respectively groups existing and required competences. A competency model consists of a set of key competences selected in accordance with a company’s business objectives. By way of example, these may include:

  • Professional competence: Specific knowledge, skills or abilities required to carry out professional tasks.
  • Methodological competence: the ability to tackle tasks and problems in a structured and effective manner. Learned working methods or solution strategies must be able to be applied and further developed independently.
  • Social competence: This is becoming increasingly important in the distributed world of work and self-organized work and includes all skills that are effective in relationships with other people.
  • Personality competence: This allows a person to act in a self-organized and reflexive manner. This requires the ability to assess oneself, to develop one’s own talents and to develop creatively.
  • Leadership competence: Developing organizational requirements, initiating change, guiding and enabling employees and teams belong in this area. This also includes reviewing performance and providing constructive feedback.

The last example shows that competence clusters cannot be viewed absolutely separately. Because a portion of social competence is necessary for constructive feedback.

Typical challenges, hurdles or errors

In the introduction of a proper competence management there are typical challenges, hurdles or errors like:

  • Identification of too many competences without comparison with the company goals.
  • Lack of or difficult identification of business-critical competences.
  • Confusion of specialist knowledge with competences or a one-dimensional focus on specialist competences.
  • No account is taken of competences that are not currently part of the job description or work organization, but will play an important role in the future.
  • Collecting competences without the participation of employees. They should know through their daily activities what competence they currently need for their tasks or what they are lacking.
  • No involvement of managers in the survey of the required competences.

Effective competence management: success factors

In fact, competence management reflects the corporate strategy. It is therefore essential that the company has a clear plan of what business goals it pursues, how it can achieve these goals and what competences it needs to achieve them.

Therefore, the analysis and definition of areas of competence and the definition of the concrete characteristics for tasks, activities and job profiles derived from them are indispensable. It is also important that the competences of employees are determined independently, comparably and reproducibly. Effective competence management does not only meant to develop relevant competence profiles. It is important to also install an independent competency assessment and assessment of the employees and to counter the results of the competence gap analysis. Developing programs that are suitable for closing these competence gaps is necessary. Those who do not have the necessary know-how in-house are well advised to call in external support.

Advantages of effective competence management

Conclusion: Effective competence management determines the current situation and a forward-looking inventory of the skills of all employees. By defining job roles and their associated competences, executives are able to identify strengths and skill gaps more quickly and thereby actively turn their attention on the employees’ performance drive. To this end, the company is actively counteracting the risk of a reduction in performance and reduced value added.

It makes sense to set up a competence management system as a strategic staff unit within the company. It can provide information on targeted learning opportunities for skills development with the aim of improving individual and organizational performance in order to achieve better business results. Training without added value for the company is a thing of the past, critical skills gaps are identified more quickly and actively closed. And: Experience has shown that effective competence management also increases satisfaction among employees and managers, which benefits the corporate climate, team motivation and thus productivity.