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Skills-Based Transformation: A Checklist

“Skills” have been on the agenda for a long time – but reorienting your talent strategies around skills is now a necessity, rather than a luxury. 

In the emerging Skills Economy, skills-based transformation is imperative for every organization. If you are seeking to fill skills gaps, innovate more quickly, and handle economic pressures while meeting business objectives, you need a new approach. As employee expectations (and HR technology) evolve, business can’t stay static. It’s never been more critical to get a dynamic, actionable, granular view of the skills you have, and need, inside the organization. 

With such Skills Intelligence, you are able to recruit, redeploy, retain, and reskill talent based on skills rather than traditional job roles – an approach that leads to agility, diversity, resilience and higher quality talent decisions, made more quickly. 

Are you ready to stop talking about skills, and actually start making the change in your organization? Follow this checklist outlining the key steps to skills-based transformation, based around five essential areas.

1. Engage Key Stakeholders 👩🏾‍💼

Skills-based transformation is an organizational change that requires active engagement and commitment from a range of  stakeholders. There is a huge technological and data-focused shift with skills-based transformation, but there is also a cultural one. You will need to: 

  • Ensure the company’s leadership team is prepared to define clear business goals, allocate resources, and wholeheartedly support the initiative across the organization. They need to be aligned on the notion that skills-based transformation is essential for company success.
  • Get the HR leadership team bought in to the change required, and prepared to integrate more/work more closely to bring skills-based practices to fruition. TA is going to hire based on skills; L&D will no longer be the sole owner of skills for the organization; TM will need to adopt new methods of performance assessment. 
  • Assess HR teams’ readiness  to embrace a new approach, including adopting new technology, and advanced data management systems. Do you have the internal capabilities to manage these new tools, clear owners, and plans for enablement? 
  • Evaluate the readiness of any Learning and Development (L&D) department to handle the increased demand for upskilling and reskilling. The L&D Program Structure will need to be scaled up to keep up with the increased demand (including having the necessary budget in place).
  • Assess the readiness of the L&D team for the integrations of new tools for matching people to opportunities based on newly acquired skills. 
  • Gauge employee buy-in and readiness to participate in skills-based transformation, encouraging them to define their career paths and learning trajectories. Consider an employee engagement survey to gain confidence in their readiness and interest. 
  • Design managerial change management programs and training across the organization. They should understand the need to focus on skills and potential within their teams, and should be ready and able to shift to being a connector, influencer and orchestrator of work and skills.
  • Look at how managers are assessed and incentivized, to avoid the hoarding of skills. 
  • Get alignment with the IT/Technology department to assess and implement new technologies that support skills-based transformation.
  • Define a project owner, project scope, and budget. Skills would traditionally be something L&D handles, but are they empowered to make changes that impact other HR functions? Do you need to create a new role for leading skills-based transformation, permanently or otherwise? 

2. Establish a Foundation of Reliable Skills Data 🗃️

You need to be able to see the capabilities you actually have today, and where your workforce can develop. This is the total talent view that you need – and are probably lacking. A robust foundation of skills data (that is, understanding your ‘skills supply’) is fundamental to the success of a skills-based approach. To get started, you should:

  • Develop a consistent skills taxonomy with clear, standardized definitions for every skill, including core skills applicable to all roles and specialized skills unique to specific domains. AI can help you ensure skills are commonly defined and automatically connected between HR systems, reducing the effort of maintenance and manual mapping.
  • Gather comprehensive data on the skills of your entire employee population (potentially using AI for a ‘low-touch’ approach here). A good Talent CRM should handle this.  
  • Add data from alumni, existing job candidates, previous applicants, and potential candidates, to create the widest possible skills data set, representative of your whole ‘talent universe’. 
  • Check: Does your Talent CRM offer easy integration with other systems, to make this data usable? 
  • Create a clear and dynamic Job Architecture, organizing jobs into component tasks and their associated skill requirements. You can use AI to map relevant or emerging skills to every job. 
  • Leverage labor market insights to get a richer understanding of how jobs are changing and keep up with competitors.
  • Enrich existing talent data using AI to bridge knowledge gaps, such as skills listed on LinkedIn profiles but not on employee profiles. AI can also work out if there are ‘adjacent’ skills people are likely to have, or be able to learn, based on the rest of their skills profile. It can also ensure people’s skills profiles automatically update when they learn something new. 
  • Establish a skills ontology to connect skills, uncover relationships between them, and enhance predictability and insights.
  • Ensure data flows seamlessly and bi-directionally between all your systems (CRM, LMS, ATS, HCM etc). Get a single view of talent and skills data.
  • Ensure there is a mechanism in place to maintain the accuracy of your skills data. 
  • Conduct organization-wide training to ensure effective access to and utilization of skills insights.

Whether you have an existing taxonomy, some level of existing skills data, or nothing at all, Beamery can help provide a solid skills foundation, enriching and connecting your skills data to provide a single source of truth. The Beamery platform offers interoperability: it lets you connect what you mean by a ‘job’ (in a skills-centric way) and the right profile (in a skills-centric way) and create a better connective tissue when it comes to hiring, assessment, development, and progression. 

3. Determine Your Talent Goals and Priorities 🧭

Understanding the ‘skills demand’ within the organization is also a critical step – that is, where there are emerging needs, as well as gaps and risks. To achieve this you will need to: 

  • Understand the broader goals and objectives of the organization. 
  • Analyze your skills landscape to identify gaps in the current skill set.
  • Map these skill gaps to align with the organization’s business priorities. Where do you have the most urgent need? 
  • Decide whether to buy (or borrow) skills through external hiring or internal redeployment, or to build the missing skills through targeted reskilling. (Again, AI-powered tools can make smart recommendations on the best tactics here.) 
  • Automate aspects of this process to ensure ongoing alignment with future skills needs.

4. Operationalize Throughout the Talent Lifecycle 🚶

To ensure the seamless integration of skills-based transformation inside your organization, follow these steps to “operationalize” the approach across the entire talent lifecycle:

  • Offer personalized candidate experiences based on the skills of potential applicants. You can deploy AI-assisted careers sites and ‘candidate portals’ to match people with suitable roles. 
  • Implement skills-based assessments in talent acquisition processes.
  • Implement skills-based assessments in performance management processes.
  • Deploy systems for mentor matching and training opportunity matching, based on individual skills. Smart, explainable AI can take the information about people’s skills and use that to match them to suitable roles, mentors, or training programs. 
  • Facilitate on-the-job learning (skills development) through shorter-term projects and gigs aligned with specific skills. 
  • Establish a Talent Marketplace to enhance internal mobility based on skills (and boost employee engagement).
  • Embrace dynamic, data-driven talent planning for effective workforce management.

With Beamery’s Talent Lifecycle Management platform, you can roll out skills-based hiring, mobility and development strategies, and easily incorporate learnings from these processes back into your skills model to make it more relevant for your company.


5. Continually Optimize with Insights 💡

The journey toward skills-based transformation is an ongoing process. Continuously optimize and refine your approach using insights. You will need to:

  • Regularly analyze and interpret insights derived from skills data, to make informed decisions.
  • Adapt strategies and tactics based on insights to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of skills-based transformation initiatives.
  • Bring in real-time external data to understand the wider labor market.
  • Add competitive data to understand how you stack up against competitors.

Embracing a skills-based approach is essential for organizations to thrive in an evolving landscape. By following this checklist, organizations can transition toward a future-ready, skills-centric paradigm, unlocking the full potential of their workforce.

Want to learn more? Read our report on Becoming A Skills-First Organization.

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