What Can Companies Do To Plug Skills Gaps?

By Cory Maki Cory Maki has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on September 12, 2022

A recent report by Korn Ferry suggests that by 2030, there will be 85 million unfilled jobs due to skills shortages. As almost 90% of directors expect to experience gaps in their workforces in the next five years, it’s beneficial to explore potential solutions. What can companies do to plug skills gaps and navigate talent shortages?

Image credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-hiring-the-woman-5439142/


The most obvious response to skills gaps within a business team is to hire people who have the relevant expertise. This route can be successful provided that it’s possible to find the right people and persuade them to join the organization. Using specialist recruitment agencies and online portals that advertise tech sales jobs, positions for software engineers and IT executives and jobs within the manufacturing and pharmaceuticals industries, for example, can be beneficial to target skilled workers. Headhunting may be an option for some businesses and networking is an effective way to identify candidates, create contact lists and sound people out about new openings and opportunities. 

In some sectors, job adverts attract thousands of applications but in areas where there are skills gaps, candidates are often in a position where they can choose who to work for. This means that it can be challenging to persuade candidates that a business is the right choice for them. They may have an advantage when it comes to negotiating a contract as the demand for their skills far outweighs the supply. As an employer, it’s crucial to be able to compete to attract top talent. 


Research conducted by McKinsey indicates that around 375,000 people could change jobs in the next ten years to meet the needs of businesses around the world. Redeployment is an increasingly popular option for companies. Rather than recruiting for new roles, organizations are encouraging existing employees to change jobs to fill gaps. Businesses can do this by providing training, developing skills and incentivizing moves for staff. Redeploying employees is not only beneficial because it plugs gaps. It also saves businesses time and money because team members already know the company and they’re ready to move from one job to another without worrying about working a notice period or going through onboarding and settling in processes. 

Hiring internally and upskilling

Hiring is often the first response to a talent shortage within an organization but it doesn’t always work. It can be difficult to find candidates with the required skills and convince them to accept a job offer. One alternative is to hire internally and embrace upskilling. If a business owner has talented, driven individuals on their team who want to go far and climb the ladder, it makes sense to offer opportunities and consider hiring internally. Employees can learn on the job, shadow senior members of staff and undertake training to develop new skills to help them progress and take on more advanced roles. Upskilling is beneficial for employers and employees. Employers benefit from a highly skilled workforce and improved staff retention rates. Employees develop new skills, increase confidence and gain access to better salaries. Hiring internally can also save organizations money. 

Freelance and temporary workers

Freelancing has become more common in the last decade. Figures published by Forbes suggest that freelancers will make up the majority of the US workforce by 2030. Going freelance is popular because it hands back control to workers. Freelancing offers flexibility and freedom and it can also be more lucrative. Freelancers can also choose which clients and jobs to accept and they can manage their schedules and workloads. For employers, hiring freelancers can be cost-effective, especially if businesses only require specific skills for short-term projects. Rather than advertising permanent roles, companies can hire freelancers for a single job or a limited number of hours per week for a set period. This often works out a lot cheaper than recruiting new members of staff and it also saves time and effort trying to find suitable candidates and completing training and onboarding. 

Another option to explore is hiring temporary workers. This is particularly beneficial for seasonal businesses, which experience peaks and troughs. By offering short-term contracts during busy periods, companies ensure they have the required resources to cope with surges in demand while saving money on wages during quiet spells. 


Outsourcing offers a cost-effective, practical alternative to hiring for businesses of all sizes. If an organization can’t find talented individuals or they need access to skills for a specific job, for example, outsourcing is a brilliant option. This route involves working with agencies or other businesses rather than taking care of tasks or jobs in-house. The most common functions and services companies outsource include marketing, accounting, IT support, shipping and logistics and administration. Outsourcing enables businesses to access skills and it also frees up time for employees. 


Apprenticeships are designed to encourage people to learn on the job. They are often paid and they give workers an opportunity to get a foot in the door, gain real-world experience and build confidence. Employers can benefit from offering apprenticeships and hiring apprentices but it can be challenging to persuade people to pursue apprenticeships and stick with them. In the UK, for example, almost half of all apprentices quit schemes in 2021. To boost retention and convince people to consider this option, it’s important to make schemes attractive and incentivize training programs through competitive salaries, opportunities to learn and progress and additional benefits. 

Creative marketing to change attitudes

One obstacle facing some employers is the attitude people have to working in certain sectors or roles. In many cases, people don’t want to work in areas where there are skills gaps because they have an impression due to societal stereotypes or media narratives. Some industries are not as fashionable, trendy or cool as others, which may put younger people off going into them, for example. Employers within these fields need to employ creative marketing campaigns to change attitudes and highlight the advantages of careers in industries like technology and research and development. 

Picture source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-wearing-brown-suit-jacket-3184339/

There is a global talent shortage and gaps are appearing in almost every industry. Although employers face challenges, there are solutions. Addressing issues now will benefit businesses moving forward. 

By Cory Maki Cory Maki has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Cory Maki is a former Staff Editor and the Business Development Manager at Grit Daily.

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