According to Future of Jobs Survey of senior talent and strategy executives from over 370 leading global employers, the most important future workplace strategy is to ‘invest in reskilling current employees’. Sixty-five percent of the respondents of the survey, conducted by World Economic Forum, will pursue this strategy.
We are already seeing expiration dates of current worker’s skill sets, so workers are expected to keep building their skills through training and learning programs to stay relevant. The survey identified “mobile internet, cloud technology” (22%) and “processing power, Big data” (13%) as the top two technologic drivers already impacting employees’ skills.
It is not just employers who see lifelong learning as a requirement. In a separate survey by Pew Research, “The State of American Jobs,” 54% of workers say training/skills development throughout their work will be “essential” and 33% say it is “important, but not essential.”
Skills should be the focal part in identifying future candidates and the basis of future learning programs (onboarding, training, performance reviews, etc.). Companies should forecast their future workforce on the skills they need and hire based on these skills. There are a few reasons why as to paraphrase the DOL: “Skills are the ticket”.
It is too difficult to get a handle on demand for particular occupations or specialties because they are changing too fast. According to the previously referenced The Future of Jobs report, “The most in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist 10 or even 5 years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate.” So as you think about your future workforce demands, consider thinking in skills.
You can define skills; they are tangible, something to talk about. Even as new technical skills are being added (as new applications and technologies are being introduced), many of the underlying transferable skills remain relatively constant. I call these skills the ‘verb’ in knowledge. They define how we think, converse, problem solve, create, engineer, write, debate, play, and so on. They are the foundation of all learning.
Skills are also measurable. We are starting to see the growth of assessments to accurately measure skill competencies and this will accelerate considerably. In many ways it makes more sense to discuss a skill competency than a grade or degree level (which often is attributed to age and demographics); it is more precise, accurate, and based on actual data. Moreover, using skill assessment widens your talent pool. You can consider applicants from many different education backgrounds, including mico-credential paths and certification learning programs.
Finally, as there is a displacement of jobs to automation and artificial intelligence, we need to identify skills that make us uniquely human and build them. Two such skill areas mentioned in The Future of Jobs report include social skills (related to EI) and analytical skills. There is also a need to stay abreast of the high level skills controlling the latest technology advancements.
Skills-Based Approach is a methodology and application to solve these problems in workforce development. For a summary of my philosophy behind the Skill Based Approach, visit the website: Skills Culture.