A skill shortage occurs when employees lack specific skills to achieve a company goal or when there are not enough employees with the needed skill set to reach that goal. Skill shortages negatively impact your company by reducing productivity, morale, and limiting growth. In contrast, skilled employees are dedicated and efficient and are required to stay competitive in severe market conditions and satisfy ever-increasing customer needs.

The skills gap is hitting the wood industry hard, and we need to identify and fix it now. Good cabinet shops and mill workers are poised to excel in the long run as they are already addressing such issues to forge a stronger foundation.

Here are four ways to recognise and address a skills shortage at your company:

1. Conduct Regular Skill Assessments

Identify a skill shortage by conducting regular skills assessments such as simulations, electronic testing, or plain old pen-and-paper. The idea is to develop an understanding of the required skills to be successful in a particular business function or equipment. The results of the assessment can be used to compare an employee’s current capabilities against the required skill-set.

Tip: Keep the results of assessments in a Skills Inventory document, an ongoing tally of who can do what. An up to date skill inventory will help you identify the right employees for the project.

2. Set Benchmarks

Skill shortages can also be determined by benchmarking. High achieving companies often take their top performers and set their achievements as benchmarks or the ‘gold standard’. Each employee is then given the task to do their best to meet those standards. By following this technique, you not only encourage higher performance but are also able to identify the employees who are struggling to reach the benchmark. Support the employees in achieving higher goals through additional training where they are lacking or coaching and mentoring.

Read more about the importance of mentoring in Why do we all need a mentor.

3. Determine Key Performance Indicators

Setting and following Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is a way for companies to ensure the development and progress of their employees. KPIs are measurements of how the company is doing and how a particular employee is contributing to the company’s success or failure. These indicators often include:

  • Retention of employees
  • Compensation
  • Distribution of benefits

KPIs are considered as one of the best tools not just to identify employee’s performance but also to recognise a skills shortage.

4. Enlist the Current Skills

Make sure you are well aware of the skills your employees already have. Often, many company leaders are not aware that a current employee may already have a basic level of the required skill. Upgrading existing capabilities within the company may be more cost effective than hiring a new employee. Once you have a clear idea of what skills are already within the company, you can quickly draw a line between what you have and what is required.

Check out the Top 4 Ways to Prevent Skills Shortage at Your Cabinet Company.

Hire and Train Right

Recruiting, onboarding and training the right people is the easiest way to overcome a skills shortage. Once you have recognised the shortages, you can hire and teach people who have the skills your company lacks.

Get more out of your employee development program with 4 Ways to Increase the Effect of Employee Skills Training in a Wood Shop.


An award-winning visionary entrepreneur running a successful multi-million dollar business in the often overlooked and seldom understood building products industry. Currently in the process of accelerating operational excellence through leadership and business development. Our business model is scaled to fit the value chain of our customers so we have lots of repeat business and unlimited growth potential.