For more insights on the role of employers in bridging the skills gap to prepare 375 million skilled workers by 2030, read the full report “Developing Skills and Evaluating Pathways Into Jobs: A Vision for 2030” from Emerge Education and Coursera.
Nearly three-fourths of CEOs identified a labor or skills shortage as the most likely external issue to disrupt their business in the next 12 months, according to a 2021 Deloitte and Fortune survey. This shortage is tied to accelerated digitization — by 2025, Microsoft predicts that there will be 149 million new digital jobs focused on cloud computing, cybersecurity, data analysis, and software development alone.
Although prompted by external factors, solving the skills shortage starts from within an organization. Taking the reins on skills development is critical for businesses that want to stay competitive and accelerate business transformation. This was confirmed by 73% of respondents to the 2020 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Report, who identified organizations as the entity most responsible for workforce development.
Prioritizing skills development can also lead to tangible business outcomes. Coursera’s 2021 Industry Skills Report found that employee skills are related to resilience and a company’s ability to adapt in the face of challenges — benefits that correlate to stock performance. At the end of the day, skills development is an engagement and retention strategy, a performance strategy, and a growth and cost savings play for the business.
In its latest report, “Developing Skills and Evaluating Pathways Into Jobs: A Vision for 2030,” Emerge Education and Coursera further examine how employers can better connect skills development to their long-term workforce vision.
As featured in the report, here are five things employers can start doing now to embrace skills development and build the workforce of the future:
1. Stop asking for resumés
The state of job descriptions is dismal. A lack of high-quality skills data means organizations don’t understand the skills and competencies required to successfully perform a given role. Inadequate job descriptions lead to poorly targeted job ads, a defective interview process, inefficient onboarding, and poor talent mobility. Recruiting on skills, rather than past experience, is necessary to get more diverse people into posts.
Instead of asking for a resumé, start asking candidates for a portfolio of accomplishments and skills certifications. This will shift the focus away from qualifications and toward competencies. Job descriptions should be compiled in terms of skills, not more general knowledge areas or years of experience.
2. Commit to a data-driven culture
Most businesses use data to support decision making, but in this year’s NewVantage Partners executive survey, only 24% said they had “created a data-driven organization.” The principal challenge cited was not technology (7.8%) but organizational culture, processes, and skills (92.2%).
Continue to invest resources in a well-defined data strategy that is aligned to overall business objectives. Without it, you will struggle to collect, interpret, and leverage data for better outcomes.
3. Define ‘skills’ for your organization
To identify skills gaps, you need to understand what ‘skills’ are in your organizational context, and then link skills to jobs and roles. Employers need to get a grip on skills data before mapping their organization. Having a local skills improvement plan will provide a detailed starting point for developing skills.
4. Prioritize reskilling over upskilling
Organizations have a responsibility to help their employees better understand their transferable skills. Businesses are typically less successful at reskilling than upskilling, because reskilling requires an organization to work multi-functionally. Yet companies such as Amazon are initiating their own programmes aimed at skilling, upskilling, and reskilling their workforces in house.
There is value in building relationships with individuals by supporting them with their own development: 87% of Multiverse apprentices stay with their employers long-term, and 50% are promoted within six months. Rather than assuming skills gaps are deficits to be immediately remedied, look at potential. Look at how to help a person develop into a role, and keep an open mind as to what can be developed easily given the right tools and frameworks.
Use performance reviews to take an organizational view, combining individual career aspirations with future jobs required by your company.
5. Defy job obsolescence
As automation shrinks the boundaries around jobs, many low-skill, low-paid jobs are effectively being designed to de-skill those working in them. But obsolescence is not inevitable: use skills pathways to redesign entry-level and at-risk roles. Then, using the data and skills infrastructure outlined above, entry-level jobs and those at risk of automation should form a pathway offering opportunities to develop new skills and progress.