Learning & Development

Skills Are the Future Your Workforce Needs: Why You Should Hire and Train Based on Skills

By Ryan M. Frischmann

According to Future of Jobs survey of senior talent and strategy executives from over 370 leading global employers, the most important future workplace strategy is to ‘invest in reskilling current employees.’ Sixty-five percent of the respondents of the survey, conducted by World Economic Forum, will pursue this strategy.

Skills gap

We are already seeing expiration dates of current worker’s skill sets, so workers are expected to keep building their skills through training and learning programs to stay relevant. The survey identified “mobile internet, cloud technology” (22%) and “processing power, Big data” (13%) as the top two technologic drivers already impacting employees’ skills.

It is not just employers who see lifelong learning as a requirement. In a separate survey by Pew Research, “The State of American Jobs,” 54% of workers say training/skills development throughout their work will be “essential” and 33% say it is “important, but not essential.”

Skills should be the focal part in identifying future candidates and the basis of future learning programs (onboarding, training, performance reviews, etc.). Companies should forecast their future workforce on the skills they need and hire based on these skills. There are a few reasons for this, and to paraphrase what the U.S. Department of Labor says, “Skills are the ticket.”

It is too difficult to get a handle on demand for particular occupations or specialties because they are changing too fast. According to The Future of Jobs survey, “The most in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist 10 or even 5 years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate.” So as you think about your future workforce demands, consider thinking in skills.

You can define skills; they are tangible, something to talk about. Even as new technical skills are being added (as new applications and technologies are being introduced), many of the underlying transferable skills remain relatively constant. I call these skills the ‘verb’ in knowledge. They define how we think, converse, problem solve, create, engineer, write, debate, play, and so on. They are the foundation of all learning.

Skills are also measurable. We are starting to see the growth of assessments to accurately measure skill competencies and this will accelerate considerably. In many ways it makes more sense to discuss a skill competency than a grade or degree level (which often is attributed to age and demographics); it is more precise, accurate, and based on actual data. Moreover, using skill assessments widens your talent pool. You consider applicants from many different education backgrounds, including micocredential paths and certification learning programs.

Finally, as there is a displacement of jobs to automation and artificial intelligence, we need to identify skills that make us uniquely human and build them. Two such skill areas mentioned in The Future of Jobs report include social skills (related to emotional intelligence) and analytical skills. There is also a need to stay abreast of the high level skills controlling the latest technology advancements.

I hear a popular phrase “Hire for character, you can train skill,” with which I only somewhat agree. Putting the time and effort to acquire a set of skills and behaviors over an extended period of time demonstrates character. Conscientiously applying skills in every experience requires diligence. Workers who command skills deserve commendation. How can you not respect someone who has made that kind of an investment into something particular?

Much of the discussion in The Future of Jobs Reportpublished by the World Economic Forum—reinforces my assertion that we should be thinking in skill for workforce development (as shown in the table below).

Workforce stats

When developing skills for your workforce, you could use Skills-Based Approach—which is a methodology and application to solve these problems in workforce development.

Ryan M. FrischmannConsistently throughout his career, Ryan M. Frischmann has found ways to apply business concepts to the development of software and website applications. Many of the underlying themes in his books A Skills-Based Approach to Developing a Career and Online Personal Brand: Skill Set, Aura, and Identity are seeded by his work in the development of a mainstream, personal website service. His writing captures perspectives from designing functionality in applications as well as business knowledge and research.

For the past year, he has been laser focused on moving forward with Skills Based Approach (a methodology he created and discussed in his first book). He has built considerable awareness of the methodology through social media and blogging and recently designed and constructed software solutions applying the methodology. Skills Based Approach is a powerful resource with both micro and macro benefits in education, higher education, and professional and career development.

Mr. Frischmann earned a degree in Management Science from SUNY Geneseo and completed coursework towards an MBA at the University of Maryland. An advocate of lifelong learning, he enjoys taking MOOCs and reading the latest books in his field. He is certified as a Social Media Strategist.