56% Enterprises Globally Are Undergoing “Skills-First Transformation”

Companies adopting SFT saw 61% HR leaders reporting better outcomes for talent retention and 58% reporting boost in employee performance


Driving a transformational shift, 56 per cent companies worldwide are embracing a ‘Skills-First Transformation’ (SFT) as per the latest report by iMocha and EY India. iMocha, the AI-powered Skills Intelligence Cloud platform, along with EY, the leading professional services organisation launched their second report on Skills transformation today, titled, “The Skills-First Transformation: A new approach to unlocking talent potential”. This report is based on primary research via interviews and surveys with 560 HR leaders and employees across BFSI, IT, Tech, Telecom, and other industries across the US, EMEA, India, SEA and ANZ regions.

As “Skills-First” approach is being widely advocated by industry leaders and analysts, the research was focused on finding the prevalence of ‘Skills-First Transformation’ (SFT) among global companies and industry sectors. The study further covered SFT’s position among the various priorities of HR leaders, business benefits, views from employees on benefits for them and challenges to be overcome along the way.

The findings reveal that 56 per cent of companies worldwide are embracing SFT, with US-based enterprises leading this trend at 74 per cent. The report indicates that over half of global enterprises, particularly in telecom (66%), technology (66%), and IT (58%), have adopted Skills-First approach. The US leads this transformative shift, emphasizing the development of diverse HR capabilities beyond traditional roles. Skills intelligence plays a crucial role in these transformations, with 'Building Future Skills' now a priority amidst tech and business disruptions.

Enterprises adopting SFT report significant HR improvements, especially in employee retention and performance optimization. Additionally, SFT adopters exhibited 2x higher revenue growth in the past two to three years compared to non-adopters. Notably, 4 out of 5 employees prefer companies with a skills-first approach, directly influencing enterprise success. However, only 44 per cent feel sufficiently supported in upskilling, despite 69 per cent recognising changes in required skillsets.

Amit Mishra, CEO and Founder of iMocha stated, “The operational landscape, especially in tech-driven sectors, has become extremely dynamic, and only a Skills-First Transformation is expected to keep enterprises steadily moving on the path to sustainable growth. Employees want to upskill and reskill to stay relevant; they are eager to showcase their skills and be recognized for them."

Challenges persist as 9 out of 10 of global employees face difficulties to showcase their skills due to the lack of SFT adoption or accurate skills intelligence tools like iMocha. To overcome these hurdles, enterprises must reassess and embrace SFT to stay competitive. SFT companies prioritize skills development and talent retention, resulting in 61 per cent HR leaders reporting better outcomes for talent retention and 58 per cent reporting boost in employee performance. In contrast, non-SFT companies lag in focusing on future skills and simplifying internal talent mobility.

Adding further, Preeti Anand, Partner, Business Consulting at EY India mentioned, "In today’s dynamic workforce, the demand for technology and AI skills, coupled with evolving employee expectations, has given rise to the organizational imperative of 'Skills-First Transformation' (SFT). India boasts one of the top tech talent markets in the world, at par with Europe and US. With a substantial 46% of HR leaders focusing on SFT, the country has a crucial role to play in this transformative journey. Looking ahead, early adopters of SFT should focus on the 'Skills intelligence first' approach to better integrate skills data across operational processes, thereby realizing higher retention and employee performance."

While the US leads in Skills-First Transformation, there is significant traction in other regions: APAC (73%), EMEA (58%), and India (46%). Even traditional sectors like BFSI are increasingly adopting SFT. The report notes that 89 per cent of employees believe SFT enhances internal mobility. Additionally, 84 per cent are willing to share learning data with employers, and 83 per cent prefer a skills-based growth trajectory over role-based. Regarding rewards and recognition, 80% favor a skills-based system over prevailing practices.

As businesses worldwide grapple with the ever-evolving operational landscape, the report signals a call to action for organizations to embrace Skills-First Transformation or risk falling behind. With compelling evidence of enhanced employee satisfaction, improved business performance, and remarkable revenue growth, the report serves as a guide for enterprises interested to adopt a “Skills-First” approach and to stay relevant in a competitive environment.


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