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The Next Revolution In Managing Skills Data

Over the past few years, the world of work has changed an enormous amount. Transformation isn’t slowing down, and the way we think about jobs and skills needs to keep up. A skills-first approach will be crucial for businesses looking to compete in terms of attracting, retaining and engaging talent and building a future-fit organization... but we know that implementing this consistently at scale is challenging.

Benefits of a skills-first approach

An approach to talent management based on skills can help connect talent to the right opportunities. It helps to personalize the experience for candidates and employees. For the business, it provides deeper, clearer visibility into the capabilities of the workforce.

With the correct skills intelligence, it becomes possible to put the right talent, in the right place, at the right time – while reducing bias in the hiring and progression processes.

Moreover, it provides a common language, so HR teams, managers, leaders and the talent in the business can better collaborate towards the development and success of their people. 

In a report from Deloitte, 80% of business executives said making decisions about hiring, pay, promotions, succession, and deployment based on people’s skills rather than their job history, tenure in the job, or network would reduce bias and improve fairness. 75% said hiring, promoting, and deploying people based on skills (vs. tenure, job history, or network) can help democratize opportunity and improve access to it.

Common blockers to a skills-first approach

Organizations are at different stages in the journey to a skills-first approach, with some struggling to even get started. The challenges we have seen tend to fall into three categories:

  • Definition: What is a skills-first approach? What is our skills taxonomy? What is our job architecture?
  • Integration: Connecting lots of different HR systems i.e. making sure they speak the same ‘language’.
  • Maintenance: Once you have defined a taxonomy/architecture, how do you keep it up to date? Roles and people change too quickly.

It’s important to think of these side by side. Before defining a skills taxonomy or role architecture, you need to work out WHERE you are defining it. Are you using an external library? Building your own? If we use an external library, how will it integrate with the systems we already have? If you use a Learning Management System to train people towards certain skills, how does that map to your internal mobility system, and the systems you use for hiring and assessments? Basically: is everything speaking the same language?

Starting from scratch with skills management is not straightforward. Firstly, how do you define something that connects with all your existing processes? A spreadsheet with all your skills and roles may be a very interesting exercise, but it isn’t easily scalable, and doesn’t really mean anything to candidates or employees – it doesn’t change the content of hiring processes or learning programs, for example. To get there, you’d have to ask employees what skills they have – a tough question to answer – or ask managers what they think: how they would evaluate their employees.

Whatever method you use (and we know some companies who have tried both), the resulting database can provide some solid foundations, but quickly goes out of date – you’ll have new managers, new employees, and new roles. Moreover, it remains disconnected with performance and learning systems. Integration becomes a challenge.

Even if, for example, your performance management and Learning & Development systems all speak a common language (rely on the same skills framework), you still need to connect those to your hiring systems and how you define jobs. Maintenance is always a challenge.

Universal Skills Platform

The right technology can help solve the challenges of definition, integration and maintenance.

Regardless of how you build it, your skills taxonomy is never going to match what candidates have on their resumes or LinkedIn pages. And if someone does a course on your LMS, is their employee profile automatically updated?

Companies need an approach allowing for the interoperability of things that pertain to skills – roles, learning programs, experiences – and definitions of skills (including proficiency, seniority and adjacency) that allows those things to be mapped.

The Universal Skills Platform is based on a powerful data foundation, and uses explainable AI, to unify skills taxonomies and different phrasing across HCM data to provide a single, skills-based language that can be applied across the talent lifecycle.

With the Universal Skills Platform, data processes are automated to keep skills timely with a single, dynamic taxonomy. For the first time, skills become transferable between systems, establishing one source of truth.

Businesses get accurate, complete, recent data about the skills in their business, and higher quality insights around candidates’ skills, proficiency, and potential to overcome limitations around skills from different industries.

There is also flexibility to add new sources of data, which future proofs the entire HCM tech stack as datasets are kept up to date and synchronized.

“Organizations are desperate for intelligent skills management platforms to improve recruiting, training, and internal mobility,” said Josh Bersin, global industry analyst and CEO of The Josh Bersin Company. “Beamery’s Universal Skills Platform has the vision and potential to play this role in many large organizations.”

Understanding skills

How do we know that one version of a skill – let’s say “product management” – is the same each time, in each system? (Does it mean the same in your business/industry as in another?) How do we define which skills/capabilities mean something from a perspective of seniority or progression? How do we even define what falls into the bucket of “skills” (versus something else)? The Universal Skills Platform can help.

Skills are a really important currency that allows connection around capabilities, competencies and seniority, but there are other things you are assessing for, such as interests and preferences.

The interoperability of skills lets you connect what you mean by a ‘job’ (in a skills-centric way, rather than just a description) and what you mean by mentoring and learning (in a skills-centric way) and create a better connective tissue when it comes to hiring, assessment, development, and progression.

It also provides insights to solve bigger business problems: for example, when to hire externally versus grow someone internally, where you need to focus effort to close skills gaps, and where training resources are best deployed.

Making sure skills are commonly defined and automatically connect between systems is a key component of these other initiatives, without the baggage of maintenance and manual mapping between systems. Companies that invest in technology and AI to support skills can keep skills dynamic and updated, empower both employers and individuals, and provide a bridge between talent acquisition and talent management.

How we help

Beamery’s Universal Skills Platform transforms the way business leaders are able to unify internal and external resources to create an “on-demand” flow of talent. As labor shortages and talent wars continue to overshadow conversations, there hasn’t been a better time to transform your workforce with a skills-first approach.

Learn more about Skills Intelligence from Beamery.

About the Author

Sultan Murad Saidov is Co-Founder and President of Beamery. Sultan is a frequent speaker on AI, the Future of Work, and Talent Transformation, was listed in the Forbes 30 under 30 list, and is the host of the Talent Blueprint podcast.

Profile Photo of Sultan Saidov