Skills Analysis in the LMS

13th Mar 2015

Many organisations implement an LMS, fill it with great learning content, offer really useful resources and provide modern tools to connect learners with each other - only to be disappointed when learners don’t use it, or if they do there is little or no improvement in performance. If you’ve implemented a good system and set it up well, why isn’t it working for you?

Identifying the skills gap

There are two big problems that I often see:

  1. The catalogue of learning content may be organised in a way that makes sense from an organisation perspective, perhaps structured by department or role, or linked to a specific development path, but not in a way that makes sense to every learner.
  2. Quite often the problem is simply that the learner doesn’t know what they should be doing. They aren’t using any learning materials because they don’t know what skills they lack and therefore can’t identify which learning materials will help them.

Each of these can be a problem individually, but together they can be a real blocker to learner engagement. What underlies both of these issues is the lack of a clear link between the individual needs of the learner and the available learning content.

Catalogues of content generally have a fixed structure, so when you set them up you have to make decisions about what will make sense to most people in most circumstances. As long as the learner and their needs are close to the average, this approach will be fine. The further away from the average the learner is, the less helpful it will be.

In this situation neither the learner or the organisation are getting the greatest benefit. Your learning management system should be helping you to personalise learning based on individual and organisational development needs.

Linking skill gaps to learning opportunities

Some organisations have a competency framework that defines the behaviours and technical skills required for each role, but if a formal competency framework doesn’t exist, the desired skills and behaviours are usually defined within job descriptions - either way, there is no excuse for not knowing what someone is expected to do in their role.

Where the needs are complex (and where budget permits) it may make sense to invest in a suite of performance management tools, but in practice they are frequently poorly used. The time, cost and sheer complexity of using them often means they are limited to certain ‘high value’ roles.

Most organisations would benefit from being able to do a skills analysis for all of their learners.

Such a tool should allow organisations to record the skills and behaviours they require in a way that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of a team, department or business unit. 

Learners should be able to self assess their competence against the skills and behaviours for their role (or a role to which they aspire) and then have that assessment reviewed and verified by their manager.

Once the assessment is complete it should suggest a range of learning options to fill any skills gap. Doing all of this within the LMS would allow direct links from these suggestions to the learning activities, which could be formal, informal, online, offline, social etc. The learning opportunities are only limited by what’s available in your LMS.

There are many possible benefits:

  • Learners would have clear sight of the skills gap in their current role, or other roles they may aspire to.
  • The organisation would have a view of the strengths and skill gaps across the organisation.
  • Individual managers would be able to identify and act upon skills gaps within their own team.
  • L&D would have a much better view of organisational and individual learning needs.

That last point may be critically important for L&D. The days of expensive and ineffective ‘one size fits all’ training are long gone - every learning activity should offer value to the learner and the organisation. Measuring individual skills gaps not only makes it easier to identify individual needs and match them to the appropriate learning, it also allows you to measure those skills gaps over time and assess the effectiveness of the learning materials.

It does require effort to set up something like this, but there are considerable benefits. What opportunities would you see if you implemented something like this in your organisation?

Find out how Digits can help with the Skills Gap Analysis Tool now!

 If you found this article interesting, you may enjoy reading about Dashboards and Reports - both great methods of keeping on track with development.



About the author
Barry Samson

Barry Sampson is a consultant focusing on the use of technology to improve workplace performance. In 2009 he co-founded Onlignment, a consultancy specialising in organisational communication and learning. Previously he worked in a range of delivery and management roles in HR and Learning & Development before becoming Learning Technology Manager at B&Q where he led a number of award-winning elearning and blended learning programmes.

Want to find out more?

Tweet Barry now!