There are numerous techniques to conduct a skills audit based on the context and strategy of the organisation. It is vital that the first step in implementing a skills audit is to analyse the organisational context and strategy in relation to the objectives of the skills audit. The context of the organisation may be identified based on time available, logistical issues, primary reasons for the skills audit and the prevalent socio-political environment. The organisational strategy provides the basis for alignment of skills to current and future organisational needs. This alignment is essential to ensure consistency with business strategy and value of skills audit results.
The process to be followed essentially consists of the following:
- Determine skills requirements
In order to determine skills requirements, an organisation should identify current and future skills requirements per job. The end result is a skills matrix with related competency definitions. Definitions can be allocated against various proficiency levels per job, such as basic, intermediate and complex.
- Audit actual skills
The actual skills audit process is outlined below and involves an individual self-audit and skills audit. Results are collated into reporting documents that may include statistical graphs, qualitative reports and recommendations.
- Determine development needs and plan for training/restructuring
Once skills audit information has been collected, an analysis of the results may be used for planning purposes relating to training and development and other Human Resource interventions. Recommendations are then discussed and agreed actions are implemented.
The Central Queensland TAFE state that “a skills audit is a process where skills held by employees are identified and compared with skills required now and in the future so that the skill shortfall or surplus can be determined. This skill shortfall forms the basis of a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) so that the company can reach the desired skill base amongst its employees” (www.cquit.net).
To fully comprehend the skills audit process, an overview of competence is useful. In order to understand the notion of competence, it is useful to examine SAQA’s definition of applied competence.
“Applied Competence is the union of practical, foundational and reflexive competence” (Source: Guidelines for the Assessment of NQF Registered Unit Standards)
- Practical Competence
The demonstrated ability to perform a set of tasks in an authentic context. A range of actions or possibilities is considered and decisions are made about which actions to follow and to perform the chosen action.
- Foundational Competence
The demonstrated understanding of what the learner is doing and why. This underpins the practical competence and therefore the actions taken.
- Reflexive Competence
The learner demonstrates the ability to integrate or connect performance with understanding so as to show that s/he is able to adapt to changed circumstances appropriately and responsibly, and to explain the reason behind an action.
Thus competence is understood as including the individual’s learning, understanding and ability to transfer and apply learned skills and knowledge across a wide range of work contexts.