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The widening skills gap has been a concern for well over a decade. Over the next ten years, the Manufacturing Institute Report projects that of an expected 4 million manufacturing job openings, 2.1 million will likely be left unfilled.

To complicate matters, the skills needed for success in manufacturing are changing rapidly. From automation programming to 3D printing, your future workforce will need a different set of skills than their predecessors. How can manufacturers prioritize which skills to hire for now and keep an eye on emerging skills you’ll need five or ten years from now?

A skills inventory is a database that tracks your employees’ skills, certifications, and experience. This comprehensive inventory can include technical skills like CAD programming or employability skills (sometimes called soft skills) like critical thinking.

Let’s examine how a skills inventory works and how it can help you close skill gaps within your organization.

How Do You Create a Skills Inventory?

The first step is to decide which skills to include and how detailed your skills inventory should be. These details will depend on your organization and what information will be relevant to your goals. For example, for an industrial maintenance mechanic, is it enough to simply list “industrial robotics systems” or would including specific competencies like “interpret basic robotic programming” be more useful?

There are a few ways to start gathering the data for your skills inventory:

  • Position descriptions
  • Job specifications
  • Performance evaluations
  • Employee assessments and/or certifications
  • Interviews with supervisors, managers, and employees

Talking to managers and employees is a great way to gather more detail on each role, the specific tasks being done now, their importance, and the skills needed to complete them. Are any skills an employee needs to do the job safely and effectively missing from the position description? Are there relevant industry certifications that indicate if someone is qualified for a position?

Gathering this information can be challenging, especially if you discover skills you hadn’t thought of or did not realize were critical to a specific role. NBS can help get your skills inventory up and running with a Job and Task Analysis (JTA). Our experts work with you to identify the skills and competencies your employees need to be successful in a specific role.

After you gather information, it’s time to create a single searchable database. Depending on the size of your organization, it might make sense to invest in software that will help you track each employee and their competencies. Maintaining and analyzing your skills inventory in an Excel spreadsheet could quickly become frustrating and impractical.

How Does a Skill Inventory Help You?

At first, it can seem like creating and maintaining a skills inventory is just another task to take up your busy HR department’s time. Finding and hiring skilled workers is challenging enough without extra work. But, a skills inventory can help you identify skill shortages within your organization and plan for the future. Let’s take a closer look at how.

Identify Skill Shortages

A skills inventory goes hand-in-hand with conducting a skills gap analysis. A skills gap analysis compares the difference between the skills an employer needs and the skills their workforce currently has.

With an up-and-running skills inventory, it’s relatively easy to measure your organization’s current state. To identify shortages, compare where you are now with the skills your workforce must have to accomplish the company’s short-term and long-term goals.

Plan for Future Skills

Once you identify your skill shortages, it’s time to create a plan to bridge your skills gaps. Do you need more welders to grow your production capabilities within the next year? If you are adding more automation over the next three years, will you need more robot operators and technicians? A skills inventory can tell you exactly how many welders or technicians you need.

Your hiring team can prioritize recruitment based on company goals. Or perhaps you’ve identified an employee who can fill the role with some additional training. A skills inventory gives you real-time data to make informed hiring or upskilling decisions.

Build Your Skilled Workforce with NBS

NBS can help you assess the skills of current employees or candidates. We do this by using industry-specific skills assessments to identify a test-taker’s technical skills and knowledge. Our assessments adhere to incredibly high industry and international standards, making them valid, reliable, and legally defensible. NBS can even work with you to create a custom pre-employment test to validate your skills specific to your organization.

Interested in how we can help you build and maintain a skilled workforce? Let us know what questions you have!