Newsletter

The Toughest Skills Gaps to Fix

Building Giants Newsletter February 14th, 2017

Some workers in technical jobs have minimal basic skills in math and reading. Perhaps they quit school and got a low-paying job. They may be relying on experience to eventually get them into higher paying technical positions.

This strategy may work for a while. But as the pressures and needs of businesses change, people who were not expected to read technical materials and perform calculations in the past may begin to struggle. As technology and competition change, companies change their expectations for the workforce asking them to use increasingly complex software or to read and follow lengthy and complex procedures. Over time, On-The Job (OJT) training begins to drag and fail.

One long-term idea is to require that all job candidates submit to standardized testing to prove they have the basic skills for the job. These tests must be valid for the specific job that candidates wish to enter. For example, a math test for a mechanic candidate cannot be more complex than the type of math the job requires. For more information on employment testing, see the EEOC’s Uniform Guidelines for Employee Selection.

Pre-employment testing requires a lot of work to set up, but it offers a huge advantage. It allows employers to test prospective employees in a way that predicts their future success in the job. Then employers no longer need to ask “Will they have the basic skills to get through the training period successfully?” and “What should we do with them if they don’t?” Basic cognitive tests measure a candidate’s ability to read, do math calculations and follow and interpret instructions.

Here are some excellent results for a North Carolina window and door manufacturer following the use of valid pre-employment assessments:

  • Performance-related turnover for new hires dropped by 30% in the first ten months.
  • On-The-Job training costs were reduced by 50 percent, due to a greatly diminished need to provide basic skills training before job skills training.
  • The amount of time for performance to reach full competence level was reduced from six months to three months.

Training for new hires can be very costly. If you are frustrated with turnover and long training times, consider designing an assessment strategy, in combination with excellent interviewing techniques, and get a higher, more prepared level of new hire.

On- The-Job Training

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