Future of Work
April 1, 2021
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Last month, Bloomberg published an in-depth article on the magnitude of hardship BMW is facing as the world moves away from combustion and into the electric era. The hundred-year-old German industry leader is being turned upside down with new technologies, new processes and, most importantly, new skills required from its workforce.
The auto industry isn’t alone. The Conference Board’s Global C-Suite Challenge Survey 2018 reveals that CEOs and CHROs identified urgent needs to forecast the changing requirements of the workforce and adjust quickly to keep up with the rapid changes. So, the pressing question that’s on everyone’s mind today is: What are the jobs of the future, and how do we prepare people for the future of work?
Businesses across the globe are under enormous pressure to develop a successful workforce transformation strategy. HR leaders are dazzled by an overwhelming amount of emerging HR technology and buzzwords like artificial intelligence, people analytics and digital transformation. While many feel the urgency, most struggle with where to start to build a sound, systematic long-term game plan.
As the founder of a company that uses AI to analyze the labor market, I believe the answer is simple: Know your workforce's skills.
Skills are the smallest common unit that can measure different components of an economy. In other words, skills are the “common denominators” of education (where skills are acquired), human capital (where skills are accumulated), jobs (where skills are required) and production output (where skills are applied) across companies, industries and labor markets. Combined with today’s advanced technologies, skills play a key role in tying these different elements together and bringing unprecedented clarity into the shifts happening in labor markets and workforces, at a level of granularity and timeliness never before available.
Skills also offer a unique perspective when applied to the labor context. Using skills to measure human capital effectively eliminates the bias or subjectivities regarding age, gender, ethnicity or education background as often observed in the traditional ways of evaluating individual workers. For example, industry leaders like IBM are turning to skills-based hiring to drive diversity and inclusion.
If I were to ask a roomful of CEOs and CHROs whether they have a clear understanding of their workforce’s skill sets, skills gaps and where they may have skill deficits in the future, most of them would probably answer “no.” How can leaders effectively plan for the future without understanding what they have today? One must first lay a solid foundation by gaining deep knowledge of their existing workforce’s skills and their organization’s true capabilities.
A skills inventory typically involves manually mapping individual positions to skills and storing the data collected using data storing software like Microsoft Excel. Today, advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and deep learning can also be applied to objectively extrapolate skills from resumes, job descriptions or job titles. This automation of the skills-mapping process to provide data-driven insights is the idea behind my company’s technology.
A skills inventory of a company’s workforce provides a snapshot of the collective capabilities of a company’s human capital. It helps leaders evaluate business opportunities and leads to more informed decisions that maximize the potential of a company’s greatest strength — its people. A workforce skills inventory provides critical intelligence in five areas within human capital management. Here’s how to apply these five skills-based insights to your staffing and hiring efforts:
Strategic planning is vital to the success of any company, as agility and rapid response to opportunities are imperative for businesses to remain competitive in today’s world. Leverage an up-to-date skills inventory to identify any gaps that exist between the skills of today’s workforce and the skills required to meet your future business needs. Plan ahead through hiring, training and succession planning strategies to minimize risk and optimize opportunities.
With insights on critical skills and skills gaps, identify the quantity of skills/workers to be filled by external talent and acquire them accordingly. Guide your HR team to hire based on highly targeted objectives. By focusing on skills, you can also remove bias that can occur during candidate screening, improving company culture and creating a workforce of diversity and inclusion.
Identifying upskilling opportunities that help bridge organizational skills gaps ensures a true return on training investment. With a detailed skills inventory, companies can detect areas where skills need to be acquired or upgraded. Based on your findings, design and deliver customized learning pathways and company-wide training programs to upskill and retrain your workforce.
An employee skills inventory provides leaders with a way to pinpoint the most qualified internal candidates for vacancies. For example, without a company-wide skills inventory, a hiring manager might not realize that several junior employees all have the core skills required for the critical project manager opening. Match high-potential employees to future opportunities.
On a personal level, an inventory of one’s skills helps individuals discover career potential that may have been previously unknown. Promote a workplace culture of lifelong learning by showing employees different possibilities to apply their skills and fulfill their ambitions. Encourage individual employees to gauge the types of positions they could pursue and the skills gaps and corresponding training necessary for those positions.
Deep knowledge of a company’s collective skill set is the secret weapon to leverage the full potential of its workforce and be ready for unforeseeable changes in the world of work. A skills inventory helps pinpoint critical skills that drive the business further and guides strategic business decisions, effectively creating an advantage over competitors. Only leaders with such intelligence of their human capital can plan confidently and efficiently, ultimately supporting their workforce and businesses to grow, evolve and thrive.
SkyHive is a SaaS platform that uses artificial intelligence to drive unparalleled insights into the skillset of a workforce, supporting rapid reskilling and upskilling through talent acquisition, onboarding and learning and development. Book a demo today to find out how SkyHive helps develop and reskill your workforce to remain competitive in a time of unprecedented change.