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Advanced Skills Management and AI: The Future of Talent

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The wheels have started turning for the new future of work as the way in which HR teams acquire and manage their talent evolves. What was once deemed to be an incremental shift towards the new era of work has now picked up speed faster than anyone could have imagined.

As this process has accelerated, so has the desire to automatically extract and measure skills when sourcing for candidates and development opportunities, both externally and internally. Not that skills in recruitment haven’t always been important, but they are now in the spotlight as the new currency of talent necessary to adapt to the current environment. 

To delve deeper into this topic, Avature just held the first of a two-part webinar series analyzing how advanced skills management can be enhanced with AI. So what is driving this shift? Why is there so much interest in skills now, especially when the emphasis for so long has been on assessing and matching job experience and education?

What Are Skills?

To first answer this question it is necessary to understand what “skills” are. 

According to Deloitte, skills are defined as “the tactical knowledge of expertise needed to achieve work outcomes within a specific context. Skills are specific to a particular function, tool or outcome and they are applied by an individual to accomplish a given task.”

The key element of this definition is the focus on how skills need to be used within a specific context. As mentioned above, this context is changing and subsequently, so are skills

This makes it even more urgent for organizations to adapt to the new demands of the opportunities they are looking to fill. New technology, innovations, channels of communication and methods of working only fuel the need to look at more than just education and experience.

On top of technical skill sets, there is also an increased focus on enduring skills, which are seen as an integral part of a candidate’s development within a role, organization or market. Abilities such as problem-solving, reasoning, negotiation and the capacity to learn new skills are now on the top of the HR wish list when it comes to both external and internal candidates. 

Skills Drive Recruitment and Career Pathing

An undeniable catalyst for this change is the impact of new technologies. Thinking of the role of a marketer, we should determine the skills they would need now that they wouldn’t have needed ten or even five years ago. 

The tech skill sets needed in today’s market are not necessarily lodged in education or even connected to formal work experience. This shorter shelf life makes it important for skills to be brought into play, which gives a broader picture of whether a candidate will be able to hit the ground running or be out of their element when starting a new role.

New technology has also changed candidates’ expectations. New generations no longer want to stay in the same job until the end of their career. They want to learn and move. 

This means that HR teams are reviewing fewer linear CVs with “classic” career paths and more personalized amalgamations of work experience. This makes it very hard to compare apples with apples and therefore re-focuses our attention back onto the common denominator, skills.

How HR Tech Boosts Advanced Skills Management

As technological advances have increased the challenge of searching for talent, it can also offer a solution. As skills ontologies become more advanced, we are able to automate their extraction from job applications, CVs and employee profiles. 

One of the advances brought on in HR technology is semantic AI, with which you are able to associate clusters of words with the correct skill sets and not just keyword matching (which can often lead sourcers down the wrong path).

A good example of this is when looking at food and beverage skills compared with that of food science. Previously a food scientist, whose skill set is chemistry-based, would often be recommended and matched with opportunities in the hospitality industry.

The system used to connect skills in a confined manner and wouldn’t associate them with terms in the correct sector. But as semantic search has evolved, clusters of terms have started to emerge around different disciplines, leading to a greater level of accuracy when extracting the skills of sourced candidates or internal applicants.

The Importance of AI in Advanced Skills Management

These advances in HR technology have been particularly useful for internal mobility (IM) and the creation of Talent Marketplaces, defined as “systems, digital platforms and virtual places where organizations provide and workers find the opportunities most relevant to their mutual benefit and success.” 

The extraction of skills with the help of AI can be leveraged to create accurate opportunity recommendations for employees, provide a more accurate skills gap analysis and offer tailored career paths to map out an employee’s future at your company.

The essence of a Talent Marketplace is that it is dynamic and that it serves as inspiration for employees and hiring managers alike. Allowing automation to do its work to create and maintain this momentum fosters engagement in an organization’s mobility program by offering a consumer-like experience.

The alternative is an HR team manually sending out broad lists of opportunities to employees, which is not only time-consuming but also less targeted and effective.

This is just one area of the talent lifecycle where the harmony between AI and advanced skills management can be applied. It can also be incorporated into sourcing, hiring processes, onboarding, performance management and learning and development as employee and candidate profiles can be enriched by more accurate skills data.

To Conclude…

Although advanced skills management through AI allows HR stakeholders to access and measure skills, it is important to remember that it only represents one part of the full employee picture. This means that, although accurately assessing someone’s skills is a useful tool for talent acquisition and talent management processes, it is not the answer to all your woes. 

Having a unified technology solution that can draw data from other areas of the talent lifecycle will always give you a fuller picture. This can be in the form of integrating a skills validation process to encourage the uploading of certificates or projects, drawing from performance reviews for real-time evaluations on an employee’s abilities or adding in career aspirations after manager check-ins. 

Together, the right HR technology and a skills model can take your talent game to the next level, enabling AI to carry out the arduous tasks and highlighting the candidate skill sets you need while leaving the recruiters to focus on value-add activities that can build your employer brand.

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