What is a Skills Audit & How to Conduct One Effectively

What is a Skills Audit & How to Conduct One Effectively

Skill demands in the modern workforce are always changing. This is why understanding what skills you have at your disposal is more important than ever.

Knowing why and when to conduct a skills audit can help amplify operational excellence. It’s important to understand the key concepts involved, what to look for when identifying skills gaps, and how to apply remedies to address any problems found in the audit.

That’s where this blog post comes in. We’re delving into all of the above and more. So if you’ve come to learn more about conducting a skills audit, you’re in the right place.

What is a Skills Audit

A skills audit is an exercise used to determine the current skills and identify any gaps within an organisation. It’s an essential tool for strategic workforce planning, aiming to align individual capabilities with organisational goals.

Done correctly, a skills audit will help to identify the core skills each role in your organisation needs and where the skill gaps are. In turn, you’ll be able to address these gaps and ensure total competency in all departments.

Download a Free Skills Audit Template

Once you realise the importance of conducting a skills audit, you will need to start planning. In order to save you time (and money) you can download our free skills audit template and get a jump start on the process. The template works with Google Docs but can also be downloaded as a Word Doc if you prefer.

Why Conduct a Skills Audit

Skills audits improve your overall organisational effectiveness. This will allow you to operate at a higher level than your competition.

With an effective skills audit, you’ll be able to:

  • Identify skills gaps within an organisation.
  • Align existing skills with the goals and desired outcomes for the organisation or department in question.
  • Enable effective talent development that works according to a well-planned strategy instead of gut feelings or misplaced assumptions.
  • Enhance productivity and innovation.
  • Ensure that employees are equipped with future workplace skills that will be in demand.

When to Perform a Skills Audit

when to conduct a skills audit thought processA skills audit should be performed regularly to ensure an up-to-date overview of the organisation. Whether conducted annually or bi-annually, regular audits help stay on top of skill shortages before they become a problem. However, there are situations where you should conduct an additional audit.

  • Organisational Change Or Restructuring: Whenever you’re making sweeping changes, it’s wise to precede this with a skills audit. This will ensure that these changes are made from an informed perspective and that operational excellence thrives.
  • New Projects Or Initiatives: A preemptive skills audit will help ensure that you have the skills coverage to tackle new projects or initiatives.

Being proactive can go a long way in preventing the chaos and rushed hires that could result from a sudden skills shortage.

Choosing the Right Type of Skills Audit

Before you plan out your skills audits, it’s important to understand the different types and when to use them.

1. Strategic Skills Audit

This type of skills audit helps to align workforce skills with your long-term strategic goals and objectives. If done correctly, you’ll have a high-level overview of necessary skills and current shortages which can then be addressed effectively.

When to use: This is your go-to audit and is best used once or twice per year. Being proactive with your strategic skills audit means you’ll always stay ahead of the curve.

2. Departmental Skills Audit

This is a more specific audit that’s targeted to a specific department or team. It’s most useful to department managers or team leads in order to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their team. They’ll also be able to identify specific gaps and address them accordingly.

When to use: This audit is often best used at the discretion of department managers and team leads. However, under special circumstances – such as under-performance – it’s a valuable tool that can help reposition a team and guide them on new skills to learn to achieve optimal performance.

3. Role-Specific Skills Audit

This skills audit helps you assess competency within a specific role or function. It’s a useful tool to help make better decisions in recruitment, employee development, succession planning, and addressing specific skills shortages within key positions.

When to use: Best used for informing recruitment strategies, or at the discretion of team leads in the line of employee development. The necessity of a role-specific audit can also be identified with an effective strategic skills audit.

4. Technical Skills Audit

This audit helps to identify and address technical skill gaps within the organisation. It is specifically helpful to those in IT, engineering, manufacturing, or scientific industries.

When to use: The audit is best used at the discretion of technical managers, recruiters, or senior technicians. It can also be requested as an additional step after a strategic skills audit.

5. Soft Skills Audit

There’s no doubt that soft skills (also known as power skills) within organisations are important. Skills such as communication, leadership, problem-solving, teamwork, and even emotional or stress management can go a long way to ensuring effective performance. That’s the focus of this skills audit.

When to use: This should form part of your strategic skills audit, especially for vital skills such as communication. You can also initiate this audit when recommended by a manager or as part of a new project.

Key Components of a Skills Audit

Understanding every aspect of conducting a skills audit is not critical, although a general understanding of the following terms will go a long way to aid planning and ensure effective audits.

  • Skills inventory

A detailed list that contains employee skills, qualifications, and expertise available within the organisation. Generally, the responsibility to keep this list falls on HR in larger companies, or unit managers within smaller companies.

  • Competency frameworks

A set of documents that defines the specific skills, knowledge, attributes, and even behaviours required to be declared competent within a specific role. These frameworks help to standardise competency requirements across the organisation, ensuring better outcomes for recruitment and employee assessment.

  • Organisational goals and objectives

The goals and objectives of the organisation should be kept top-of-mind throughout a skills audit. This will help to align skill development and aid towards sustained future success.

  • Action Planning

This involves the creation of specific action plans based on the outcome of audits. Action plans may include training programs, recruitment efforts, or redeployment of talent within the ranks.

How to Conduct a Skills Audit

Leaders discuss how to conduct a skills audit effectivelyConducting a skills audit typically involves seven key stages, as follows.

1. Define the Objectives

Help all key stakeholders stay on the same page with clear, well-defined objectives. The goal is to obtain a better grasp of your employees’ skills. Another example is fixing a skills gap to ensure you have adequate coverage within the organisation, whether for current operations or a new project. Make sure to be detailed with your objectives so that they can be monitored for success.

2. Identify Key Skills And Competencies

The next step is identifying the core skills required in your organisation or project. This will help to establish what competency looks like within the scope of the audit. Indicate which skills are required for which roles to help the audit and the action plan’s chance of success.

3. Develop Assessment Tools

Create or select assessment tools for evaluating the skills and knowledge of your employees. These tools can include surveys, interviews, self-assessments, or performance reviews that focus on the identified skills and competencies.

4. Conduct the Skills Audit

Use your objectives, competency frameworks and tools to conduct your skills audit. Try to keep things as centralised as possible to avoid any hiccups (like data loss) throughout the audit. Ensure everyone has enough support to complete all tasks assigned to them.

5. Create a Skills Inventory

Once concluded, it’s time to organise and analyse your skills audit results. Create an inventory containing all of the organisation’s current skills. Match this to the key skills and competencies found at the beginning of the audit process, identify any action items, and move on to the next step.

A skills matrix or a competency matrix are tools that help visualise the skills and competencies available within a team or organisation. They can be instrumental in managing a skills inventory by providing a structured and clear overview of the capabilities of each team member.

6. Create an Action Plan

Create a remediation plan to bridge the gap between your desired and current skills. This step can include additional training, individual development plans, or even hiring new staff based on the outcome of your audit. Be sure to prioritise your action plan and set up a realistic timeline to adhere to.

7. Follow Through And Monitor

Implement your action plan and monitor results regularly. On-the-fly adjustments may be required depending on the shifting needs of the modern workforce, employee turnover, or several other factors. Remember to celebrate success.

How to Identify Skills Gaps in an Audit

Throughout your audit, you will identify skill gaps. That’s why it’s important to know exactly how to identify skill gaps in the workplace. Your most critical skills gap can then form the priority item in your action plan.

This step is implemented after creating your skills inventory. This is matched to your core required skills and will result in a list of identified skills gaps. You can then set out the next steps for the organisation to ensure sustained success.

How to Remedy Skills Gaps Identified

Once you’ve identified core skill gaps, add them to your action plan. This aspect of your audit is crucial. Identify free courses, paid training, or in-house learning opportunities to help diversify available skills.

Training is only one half of the solution, it’s also critical to implement ongoing monitoring and evaluation. Ensure that your action plan carefully details each step and the required outcome on the way to the eventual remedy.

Using Technology to Manage Your Next Skills Audit

Employees celebrate a successful skills audit done with technologyBy this point, you’ve likely realised that an army of spreadsheets and PDF documents will create something of an administrative nightmare within your next skills audit. Thankfully, there are tools like Cloud Assess with a host of built-in automation that can significantly lighten the load and ensure the success of your all-important skills audits.

Software of this kind allows you to reduce workday disruption caused by traditional paper-based training and assessment. Using cloud-based software, you’re able to conduct assessments seamlessly in the flow of work. These tools go beyond simple skills audits. You’ll be able to actively manage organisation-wide competency, skills gaps, training and development needs, and a whole lot more.

Maximise the Impact and Outcome of Your Next Skills Audit

Armed with the knowledge contained in this post, you have the necessary basic understanding of how to conduct a successful skills audit. Let the planning and preparation commence!

When faced with a decision on which cloud-based software to use, consider Cloud Assess, a long-standing trailblazer in the industry. With training and assessment, tracking and reporting, and a host of workflow automation tools, you can ensure that much of the heavy lifting is taken care of for you. Try Cloud Assess today by getting started with a free trial.

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