HR Leaders Need To Analyse Supply And Demand Of Skills For Their Particular Business

"People want guidance for their career to grow and not just fun activities. Without much complications and costs, it just needs consistency", Todd Tauber, VP-Product Marketing, Degreed


Degreed curates content for skills everybody wants to build or needs to build to stay relevant. The challenge, however, remains about identifying skill gaps and preparing for the skills of the future.  

Todd Tauber, VP-Product Marketing, Degreed shares his insights on what will it take from the skills perspective to aid to the $5Tn economy goal of the Indian government

What will be the most in-demand skills of the future?

Most of the forecasts I’ve seen, like McKinsey Global Institute’s which says the fastest percentage growth in global demand for skills (55 percent over the next decade) will be in advanced technologies and programming as well as basic digital fluency. But many jobs only require those things in small doses, if at all. 

In absolute terms — McKinsey, The World Economic Forum and others actually predict the biggest growth will be in cognitive skills like creativity or problem solving, and in social skills like communication, entrepreneurship, and leadership.

Global forecasts aren’t necessarily helpful for business executives, HR leaders or individual workers. They really need to look at the supply and demand for skills on a more granular level, and need to analyse which skills are growing and declining in importance for your particular career goals, or for your particular business?

Indian car makers, for example, are planning to convert 30 percent of their fleets to electric vehicles in the next few years. Those are aggressive targets that require some very different skill-sets. To transform businesses like that, though, car makers will have to develop totally new and different skill-sets in everything from R&D to manufacturing to marketing, sales, and service. 

How are learning programs shaping up across verticals?

The big mega-trend is a shift from employers managing training for workers delivering online courses through official channels like corporate learning management systems to enabling workers and managers to develop themselves every day, in the flow of their work.

In recent Degreed research with Harvard Business Publishing, only 52 percent of people took an online course at work last year, and only 42 percent attended a live class at work. Meanwhile, 53 percent got feedback from their teammates, 63 percent used videos to develop their skills, and 86 percent learned something on-the-job from reading articles or blogs.

How do companies train IT employees for better profit and productivity?

Connecting learning and skills to productivity and profits; companies should focus on getting three things right: target the skills that matter most, get managers more involved, and provide workers with more consistent feedback.

Employers need to help workers identify their skills gaps and set the right goals. In the Degreed + Harvard Business Publishing research, 61 percent of people wanted guidance to link their personal learning to professional growth opportunities. However, a meager 17 percent agreed on having a plan to develop specific skills with their managers last year.

Then enable people to practice and apply new skills on the job. Only 20 percent of workers in the research opined their manager had recommended learning opportunities to them, and a sparse 31 percent said their manager offered them projects or other developmental experiences. Another 36 percent denied any coaching or mentoring by their manager.

Finally, give people useful feedback and insights on their skills and progress. Nearly half of the people in our study (48 percent) required help in identifying opportunities to improve their skills. However, only 39 percent received regular feedback on their performance or capabilities from their manager. 

People want guidance for their career to grow and not just fun activities. Without much complications and costs, it just needs consistency. But real-world experience validates this approach. This is how Airbnb grows the data science skills it needs, Cognizant develops secure coding expertise and Google builds the engineering management capabilities.

How can employers train for career success?

Unilever’s chief learning officer, Tim Munden says it best, “The individual is fundamentally responsible for driving their learning. The line manager is also responsible for supporting their people to build the capabilities they need, and the company needs to create a culture that encourages curiosity.

Companies can do three things to train their workforce for career success: the employers can instill a sense of responsibility and accountability in their workers; train and encourage managers and leaders to develop their teams, and create systems — organizational structures, culture and rewards, not just the technology — to motivate, guide and reward career success.

Managers are expected — and incentivised — to develop their people. And while the CEO sets expectations, the CHRO and their team need to actively link talent strategies to growth strategies.

How to identify and reduce the impact of the skill gap in organizations?

Most companies don’t assess the skills they need or even measure the skills they have. According to the Degreed and Harvard Business Publishing research mentioned earlier, only 40 percent agree about their manager helps them understand what skills they need, and just 32 percent are confident their manager even knows what skills they have.

The simple solution for identifying and reducing the impact of skills gaps is measuring the supply and demand for skills in the business. The hard thing, however, is the lack of widely accepted solution for quantifying people’s skills.

Business leaders fancy saying ‘people are our most valuable assets’, and human capital costs account for up to 70 percent of operating expenses in many organisations. Yet, there is no line item on corporate balance sheets to show executives the size of their skills gaps, or the value of their people’s skills.

How does Degreed work on measuring and building skills for the future?

Degreed is engineered to enable businesses and people to systematically track and develop the skills they need for the future and is done in three main ways:

Using data and behavioural science to assess users’ skill-sets and automatically connect them to relevant learning opportunities based on their jobs, interests and career goals.

Using AI and machine learning to personalize daily recommendations and stimulate users’ curiosity. 

And third, using several tools embedded throughout the product to continuously measure, visualize and analyze people’s skills, exposing them to the next opportunity to level up.


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