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Assess your staff. Identify your skills gaps.

You might already have a business plan that outlines your goals, but does your workforce have the skills to help you achieve them? Find out how to assess your staff and identify their training needs. You’ll create the capacity you need in your team and help them develop. It doesn’t even have to be costly.

Work out your team's capabilities and goals


Unless you talk to your employees how will you know what their skills are? It can be easy to overestimate or underestimate their competencies and knowledge. Do you know their career aspirations? How do they match with your own goals for the business? How can you bring these ambitions into mutual alignment?

Show interest

Employees can suffer poor commitment if they feel ignored or undervalued. You’ll motivate and retain staff by showing them you are interested in their progression. You might be happy with them doing the job they’re doing, but are they? Talk about ways to address their goals. What specifically do they want to do? Make sure they have a detailed plan rather than vague hopes. Are their aims achievable within your organisation?

Put the self in assessment

Employees are often the best people to evaluate their own skills level. Let them identify their weaknesses and strengths in a non-judgemental environment. This should be an open dialogue. You don’t want them to feel as if they have to justify themselves. It’s about positive support. Do they have the solution for their own skills objectives?

Plug gaps with an action plan

When you’ve figured out where the gaps are you’ll need to decide how to fill them, through new hires, training or additional support for your employees. When it comes to individuals, can you train them up within your business or will you need outside help? What’s involved: mentoring, work shadowing, a new qualification or just additional responsibility to stretch their capabilities? Remember to factor in any periods of absence. Create a timeframe so they can see and mark their own progress.

Maximise returns on your investment

If their skills development matches up with your own business needs then any time or money invested in your employee should see rewards for them and you. How can you get the most out of their acquired new knowledge or effectiveness? Can they share these new abilities and competencies with other staff, furthering their own sense of accomplishment and passing down the positive outcomes to more of your workforce?

Tools to help with your plan

SCQF employer's guide

Download the SCQF employer's guide for step-by-step guidance on recruitment, training, recognising your organisation's skills needs and choosing development opportunities for your workforce.

The SCQF can also help you gain recognition for your own in-house training programmes, raising the profile of your organisation and attracting skilled employees.

Employer levelling tool

Once you are comfortable with the basics, download the employer levelling tool to help you develop effective job specifications.

Along with support materials, this guide shows you how to assess what education level, skills and knowledge are needed for a job role. As well as making the recruitment process simpler, this will help you decide on training and development activities for specific roles.

Employer Skills Survey

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills’ (UKCES) Employer Skills Survey is a helpful resource looking at issues from vacancies, skills shortages and skills gaps to training and staff development.

The survey was last carried out in 2015. The results show that in that year, employers in Scotland were more likely to have provided training for their staff than employers elsewhere in the UK. The survey delves deep into training and skills trends, identifying skills gaps in the workforce and more.