According to a survey from PwC, 58 percent of CEOs worldwide fear that a persistent skills gap could hinder their organizations’ abilities to grow. Within the healthcare industry in particular, the skills gap hinders not only company growth objectives, but also an organization’s ability to render superior patient care.

Furthermore, this gap shows no sign of narrowing soon, thanks in part to a shortage of nursing faculty that has forced colleges to turn away thousands of qualified nursing students.

So, how can a healthcare organization find the talent it needs under such conditions?

4 Strategies to Close the Healthcare Skills Gap

1. Hire Contingent Labor

Many organizations have begun to embrace the idea of engaging contingent labor as a method of evaluating potential employees prior to hiring any new healthcare talent.

At RightSourcing, we have observed this trend firsthand. In our own programs, health systems have increased conversions of contingent labor to full time employees by 34 percent. This increase in employee conversions suggests that healthcare organizations are finding value in contingent labor beyond engaging them for brief projects. By using contingent work as a screening method, health systems can find more qualified candidates despite the persistent skills gap in the industry.

2. Hire Early-Career Workers

In the coming years, the healthcare industry will need an additional 525,000 nurses to replace those who are reaching retirement age. Unfortunately, demand outpaces supply by two to one.

To support their hiring needs, healthcare organizations should consider hiring more early-career nurses and healthcare workers whom they can support with training and development programs. This tactic can ensure health systems still have the ability to build qualified staffs who can deliver great patient care regardless of the skills gap.

3. Train Healthcare Workers for Cross-Functional Roles

A great way to overcome current hiring difficulties is to train healthcare workers for cross- functional roles. That way, even if qualified candidates are in short supply in the overall labor market, health systems will have qualified candidates in their own ranks when new positions must be filled.

4. Develop Employee Referral Programs

Employee referral programs often yield the best employees regardless of the talent climate. In the face of a labor shortage, they become even more valuable. By leveraging the connections of existing workers, healthcare organizations can attract talented individuals they may have otherwise missed altogether.

Thanks to this skills gap, healthcare organizations will face many challenges in the coming years. However, if they use these strategies, health systems can overcome the difficulties and continue to grow and deliver quality care regardless of the labor market.

Catherine Hess is the marketing manager for RightSourcing.

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