The Skills First Mentality

The Skills First Mentality

‘Companies that focus on skills and move away from more antiquated signals in their recruitment – like what degree this person got, where they went to school, or where has this person worked – will have a better chance of recruiting the right people for the right roles, with the right skills doing the best work.’ (CEO LinkedIn, Harvard Business Review podcast)

The labour market and jobs are changing at rapid pace.

  • If the job isn’t disappearing all together, tasks within a role, which are straightforward and repetitive, are being automated.
  • While the rate of automation slowed during the pandemic, signs are that it is back on the agenda for many companies.

‘A once in a lifetime’ transformation’ happening in front of our eyes.’ (Jacob Morgan ‘The Future of Work.’)

Whatever your role or your company or your industry, you need to keep up-to-date and current with the changes that are taking place to remain relevant in the new world of work.

Even if you’re not changing your job, your job will likely be changing on you.

For far too long when recruiting to roles we’ve used:

  • Degrees – ‘this person went to this university so must be good,’ or
  • Previous company – ‘this person worked at this great company so they must know what they’re doing,’ or
  • Networks – I know someone who speaks highly of this person, so they must be great at their job.’

But companies cannot continue to recruit in this way, given that the skills needed to do roles are changing fundamentally. Significant skills shortages now exist and the education system is unable to keep pace with developments.

A recent LinkedIn survey highlighted two examples of how the skill that are needed for the available roles are changing:

  • If you analysed the same professional services role in 2015, roughly 25 percent of the skills required to do that role had changed by 2022 – with IT, digital and data skills more important.
  • There will be 5 new basic skills needed to successfully work in white collar roles by 2030.

During the pandemic there were a large number of hospitality (customer service) staff out of work. The most ‘in demand’ roles were ‘digital type’ customer service roles (for example, in contact centres or as web chat agents). However, most hospitality staff remained out of work – and a lot of contact centre roles went unfilled. People who had displaced from hospitality, on average, only had 70 per cent of the skills required to do an entry level customer service agent role.

LinkedIn concluded that ‘similar dynamics are happening across multiple industries and job functions.’ The people available simply don’t have the skills as roles are changing.

There are implications for companies and individuals.

For companies, the critical issue is to fully understand the skills they will need to remain competitive and then to take action.

A good starting point is to complete a skills review, to analyse roles and see where there are gaps. A good approach is for companies start with the roles which are most critical to their future success. The skills review can be completed over time with high priority roles tackled first.

  • It may be that there are staff within the company who are able to easily develop existing skill areas to fill a gap – for example, staff who have experience in data analysis can be developed quickly to use the latest software in this field.
  • Where appropriate, a training needs analysis can be produced together with training plans aimed at filling skills gaps.
  • Finally, resource and recruitment plans need to be developed to fill the gaps that remain.

And for individuals, it’s clear that they need to remain close to the industries they work in, or want to work in, to track the skills that are needed.

There are many sources of information available on the skills that are in demand as we move to the ‘future of work.’ For example, LinkedIn and McKinley produce regular reports on these issues.

For information, the skills in demand as reported in recent such reports include:

  • Data and digital skills
  • Basic IT skills
  • Process improvement
  • Change management
  • Project management (given the rate that companies are changing)
  • Critical thinking
  • Design thinking
  • Language skills
  • People and leadership skills – particularly emotional intelligence.

For companies and individuals there is a need to think carefully about the skills that will be needed moving forward – either to remain competitive – or relevant.

What are the skills that people should be trying to develop in the new world of work?



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