Discover the good, the bad, and the ugly of skills frameworks and ontologies and how they can work in practice.
Get to know how to diagnose where skills and competency frameworks are now – and how to build on them for the future.
Understand what tools and technologies organizations need to support agile and effective skills strategies.
Skills frameworks can take forever to build but they’re an important part of understanding what’s needed for organizational success. Yet, they can often be effectively outdated by the time they’re created; a point underlined by World Economic Forum data that suggests half of employees need to be reskilled by 2025, meaning some frameworks might just become redundant before then if agility and updates aren’t built into them.
To understand how to get a good handle on this rapidly changing skills landscape and the tools and frameworks needed to adequately handle it, Kate Graham, Head of Content Labs and Insights at UNLEASH, is joined by Simon Gibson, Future Skills and Careers Lead at Direct Line, and Andrew Lax, Global Head of Learning at ING to understand how building futureproofed skills strategies and ontologies can underpin skills agility and success.
Some of our competency frameworks are useless and are not worth the paper they’re written on – they take up so much time, too much energy, and are dated by the time they’re been finished.
Simon Gibson, Future Skills and Careers Lead, Direct Line
Watch on-demand to:
- Understand why starting small on the skills framework journey is key – even though the obstacles at hand can seem overwhelming.
- Get to know the key role that L&D can play in building a successful, skills-centric future and why it needs to better partner with the business to do this.
- See the difference between ‘hype’ and ‘reality’ when it comes to skills frameworks, strategic workforce planning, and in-vogue skills, and supporting technology.
Action on skills gaps and skills strategies is needed now
With World Economic Forum data suggesting changes to core skills are rapidly incoming, with a huge need to reskill as a consequence of this, Lax started the webinar with a call-to-arms for learning professionals: you need to act now. If they don’t, he argued, someone else will get ahead on this landscape and take the top talent you have.
In fact, so worrying is the ‘skills gap’ that governments are writing reports on it as they struggle to grapple with the perfect storm of increasingly speedy automation and digitization, political shifts, global skills imbalances, and pandemic-sparked changes to employee-employer relations. For L&D and HR, who likely are already having to deal with the issue, the impetus to create a clear way forward is obvious.
So do frameworks matter?
So, what should this forward movement look like? Lax thought the base of any action in this area should be built on a skills framework – which should inform the organization about the skills they have within it and identify the capabilities of the business in a quantifiable way – allowing individuals to measure themselves against and use as a central part of their learning journey at a business i.e. a good imperative to stay and develop.
This framework should also help signpost to organizations where business understanding of skills is going: from jobs to skills. In fact, these frameworks can be the first step – as long as not undertaken in silo and done in step with the organization – towards becoming a skills-based organization that wholly utilizes all capabilities an employee can offer.
Such a framework-underwritten approach, as Lax and Gibson explained, can also help measure where skills gaps are and then allow reskilling, internal mobility, and upskilling to occur. Yet, this isn’t historically how organizations operated, so it might be difficult. Ergo: small steps are fine to take at first. However, if done well a skills framework approach can also give additional clarity around industry benchmarking and direction of organizational travel, helping organizations to get a better handle on the decisions they need to make on the skills agenda.
How to decide on what skills are needed
Yet, skills framework-making cannot just be an administrative exercise if it is to be successful. As Gibson explained, it should be about organizations getting a handle on two things: where they want to go as an organization and where the market at large is going.
It’s also about understanding what big trends look like for the organization you are operating within. It cannot just be ‘Ah, we need data skills as that’s what’s in’ or ‘We need to get as digital as Apple is’. Reachable goals and nuanced understandings, when creating a skills framework and roadmap, will be HR’s friends here. As will building a framework that updates and is flexible and agile, too.
This framework approach can also help with strategic workforce planning, giving organizations a sense of what they might need to train, buy-in, or borrow, or bot, because they’ve got a better understanding of where their gaps are and where the direction of travel is going to be.
Yet for all the strategic and macro-level planning, HR cannot forget the nitty-gritty at the heart of skills planning: skills. Here, Gibson noted that ‘soft skills’, though he dislikes the term, are going to be increasingly important in a changing world although technical skills, in an increasingly data-driven and digital business landscape, will also be crucial. Things like adaptability and resilience will be aptitudes that businesses will need to increasingly focus on.
Getting comfortable with the new world of work and new business architectures
Work has also changed and that is something HR practitioners are going to have to get used to. No longer can organizations plan to hire someone and have them stick around forever. In fact, part of employer brand growth in this new world, as Gibson intimated in the webinar, will be about becoming a great place where people can come, develop, and then move on. This thinking should inform any framework exercise.
In fact, Gibson explained this can be beneficial for these organizations in the immediate, too, as they can have highly-driven people in a constant pipeline wanting to join, which means businesses can get the latest skills, capabilities, and aptitudes joining them. Something which refreshes the business in a constant, iterative manner and shouldn’t scare it.
Where does technology play a role?
The skills landscape, and the tools and instincts needed to navigate through this, are a lot for L&D and HR to take. And this is where technology can play a role. As discussed in the webinar, technology can help scrape industry job listings to give organizations a better sense of the skills they need both now and in the future.
Of course, this can be overwhelming and end up giving businesses thousands of skills to choose from but AI and automation here can clarify trends. This can help organizations choose priorities and roadmap, too. Lax also noted a key part of this will also be ensuring that clear guidelines around technology’s use are written as well as creating models for its use and making sure that it doesn’t become siloed to HR.
Don’t get caught up in the hype!
For Gibson, as with any aspect of the skills journey, L&D has to apply these tools – be it frameworks, skills benchmarking, industry, and skills trends research, or technology – with sensitivity and understanding of the organization it’s in. As he said: it’s about being really clear on the story of your organization and the story of what you’re trying to sell to them regarding skills, ensuring that these two narratives can match up.