Real business story

Identify future skills to stay competitive in business

Identifying the skills your business will need in the future is a key part of staying relevant and competitive.

As technology progresses, markets rise and fall and customer expectations change, it’s essential for businesses to adapt in order to survive.

Determining the skills your business will need and being agile enough to bring them into the company can help to set you ahead of the pack.

Look ahead and plan

To identify the skills your business will need in the future, it is important to keep track of advances in technology and industry trends.

For property services provider DMA Group, looking to the future has ensured the business has been at the forefront of innovation for more than 200 years.

Steve McGregor, group managing director, believes that embracing technology and incorporating it into your strategy is the first step towards identifying the skills your business will need.

“Businesses have to embrace technology. DMA Group recognised that it was essential to digitise and automate so the business would become more productive and more efficient. We will always need engineers but we need them to be more tech savvy in the future,” Steve said.

Once you’ve set your strategy in line with trends and future predictions, it’s possible to conduct a skills gap analysis.

Identify the roles you need to reach goals and create an inventory of skills for each. After comparing the skills required from staff against the skills they already possess, you can decide how best to get the skills into your workforce.

"We’re constantly looking to upskill our workforce. Whether that be the core service, product changes, new legislation, trade skills or technology, we are constantly looking at ways to sharpen the saw internally,"

Steve McGregor, MD, DMA Group

Upkskill, mentor and hire

When you have established what skills your business needs, the next step is bringing them into the company.

Training and mentoring plays a huge part of filling any skills gaps within the DMA group. It’s not uncommon for staff to spend 50 years with the company, so training is a constant.

“Upskilling is a prerequisite. We’re constantly looking to upskill our workforce. Whether that be the core service, product changes, new legislation, trade skills or technology, we are constantly looking at ways to sharpen the saw internally,” he said.

The cost of upskilling and training staff is costed and budgeted at the start of each financial year, Steve said.

“Personal development has always been a key element of our business plan and budget, however it is of pre-eminent importance at the moment.”

Adopt different training methods

DMA Group adopts a mix of one-to-one training, classroom education and online learning to upskill the workforce. The business also uses peer-to-peer learning and mentoring.

Time is normally set aside in working hours for personal development within the business. When it is necessary to get the whole workforce together, the company arranges out of hours forums, often with a night out afterwards.

Steve believes companies should be agile when skills are needed quickly. Whether it is hiring or outsourcing, businesses need to be adaptable when it’s called for.

“There have been times when we’ve not been able to find the skills within the team when we need it quickly so we’ve brought expertise in. For example, we brought in user experience expertise. Another example is social media marketing. Where we can’t find the skills when we absolutely need them as part of the strategy, then we will bring those skills in,” he said.

Apprenticeships also play a role in addressing skills needed for the future. Steve added that the business is currently working on an apprenticeship scheme that incorporates modern technology with traditional trades.

Do you know what skills your business needs to develop?

Use this action plan to start future proofing your business

Top takeaways

By planning your strategy based on industry trends and technology, you can identify the roles and skills your business will need in the future.

Training, upskilling and mentoring staff regularly will ensure your business has the skills and knowledge it requires in the future.

When it’s not possible to find the skills within your business, or they are needed quickly, companies must be agile enough to hire or outsource.