How businesses can tackle skills gaps and an ageing workforce

Employers must focus on the recruitment, retention and retraining of older workers, says Nelson Sivalingam.

Reading time: 4 minutes

With the state pension age now at 65, the age demographic of the UK workforce is altering, and many older employers are remaining in work for longer.

Meanwhile, employers are seeking different skills to fulfil new jobs generated by automation and technological advancement, and, with fewer young people set to enter the workforce, businesses are increasingly concerned about future skills shortages.

By 2030, for example, as many as 375 million workers will need to change their skills and occupational categories to be able to adapt to digital transformation.

From a business perspective, it is more economical and efficient to train a current workforce for the new skills required in digital transformation, since sourcing new hires requires more resources and money.

To bridge the skills gap and adapt to an ageing workforce, then, employers must focus on the recruitment, retention and retraining of older workers. This means it is essential for employers to offer support as the landscape continues to rely on changing, and increasingly innovative, technology.

Drive self-directed learning

To catalyse change, employers must foster a company culture of lifelong learning. Given it is difficult to predict what skills your organisation will require in the next five years, creating an environment in which learning is continuous, responsive and adaptable means all workers will be adept at learning, and supported in regularly upskilling themselves.

Given learning is the second most sought-after workplace benefit, there is clearly appetite from workers to actively participate in teaching themselves new skills. 

An effective way to create this culture is to enable workers to carry out self-directed learning; this method is especially effective for enabling workers to continuously develop both personally and professionally.

Show employees that you value their experience and ambition, and have created an inclusive and diverse workplace

Integrated learning platforms powered by AI can be used to curate and recommend learning to suit specific business goals as well as individual needs, and online training suites allow workers to learn at their own rates and return to previous information if they need to recap, learning at the speed of need.

Use analytics to identify skills gaps

Business leaders can leverage analytics to identify specific skills gaps and respond by providing personalised learning that allows workers to develop the skills they need to improve in their role.

Real-time analytics enable employers to monitor the worker journey towards self-improvement, and to feed back or redirect wherever needed. They also provide employers with a better understanding of where workers may be struggling and what resources might be helpful to bring them up to speed.

AI-powered training tools mean businesses can develop training that meets the needs and goals of employees at scale, and also to create training programmes that depart from traditional methods and the outdated one-size-fits-all approach.

Advanced technology can therefore be used to inform L&D leaders to create the personalised and adaptive learning experiences that employees need. With effective digital learning and on-the-job training creating an efficient and well-trained workforce, companies can benefit from generating 26% more revenue per employee.

Knowledge sharing

IDC data shows that workers spend on average 30% of the workday searching for information. This time is reducing employee productivity and eating into their working day, as well as into the time employees could be using to learn new skills.

However, tools that facilitate knowledge-sharing can be used to enable employees to create useful pieces of information that can be accessed by others through online platforms. This information can be made readily available via online platforms so that employees can access what they need quickly and easily. 

Moreover, knowledge-sharing tools also allow workers to contribute to an organisational memory which means knowledge and skills within your organisation are given longevity and don’t leave when an employee does.

Using technology that enables peer reviews, and means workers can receive coaching from team members, supports social connections and promotes creative thinking as well as the constant exchange of ideas.

Recommend alternative job roles

There is a lot of concern about the jobs that will be lost due to the development and growth of automation technologies, but according to WEF, the reality is that more jobs will be generated as a result. Consequently, companies should instead invest in upskilling and reskilling their workers.



Businesses should use analytics to recommend alternative job roles based on skills matches for employees, and then provide the learning required to reskill the relevant worker.

Work with each one of your professionals to identify their strengths and passions individually, so you can then better understand where they might fit with your business objectives and adapt to the changing needs of the company as technology continues to impact business.

Overall, it’s vital that employers invest in effective methods to train and support workers so they are equipped with both the skills and the confidence to excel in the digital age.

Showing employees that you value their experience and ambition, and have created an inclusive and diverse workplace suitable for all, means companies are in a better position to attract and retain talent, as well as to prepare for future skills shortages.

With advanced training programmes and innovative technology, companies can ensure they are investing in the workers of tomorrow.


About the author

Nelson Sivalingam is CEO and founder at HowNow


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