Skill-based hiring for tomorrow’s workforce

A skills-based approach can provide a more holistic approach to talent acquisition as work continues to evolve, says AMS's Roop Kaistha.
By: | July 25, 2023

With the global economy experiencing massive changes, more and more businesses are looking at new ways of working. One of the key things is in the way they recruit. Instead of the traditional job title approach, organisations are now adopting a skill-based approach.

Speaking exclusively to HRM Asia, Roop Kaistha, Regional Managing Director, APAC, AMS, highlights why organisations need to adopt a skill-based approach as work continues to be re-defined.

The way we work is changing

Roop referenced a Deloitte survey highlighting 83% of CEOs believe that the current way of work is defined outside of traditional team structures. While prior attempts to define job description may have centered around identifying the skills of a particular individual and fitting them in a box, there is increasing ambiguity as it becomes more challenging to identify the exact skills required for a certain job role.

This, said Roop, is increasing the importance of a skills-based approach, as the half-life of skills continues to shrink. “In 2017, before Covid, the half-life of skills used to be 10 years. From a digital skills perspective, this is now much lower, especially with the emergence of more specialised skills. The longevity of technical digital skills now is as low as 2.5 years, which means there is a constant evolution of skills.”

What is a skill-based business?

In simple terms, instead of work being organised by jobs with clearly defined accountabilities, skill-based businesses deliver work by portfolio, enabling greater agility. But it is a massive step, and no business is truly delivering skill-based across all its business. Some of the practices businesses are experimenting with are creating an internal skill-based marketplace, doing skills-based hiring and talent pooling, and producing skills-based workforce planning.

Some businesses are even looking at applying a skill-based approach to the way they pay their employees. Here, pay is assessed by a combination of the work performed, how well it was delivered, the outcomes achieved, and skills needed.

Adjusting to evolving skills taxonomy requires mindset change

As organisations continue to bridge the gap between the skills required to do a job and the skills employees have, talent acquisition (TA) teams have an important role to play in attracting and retaining the best talent.

Roop explained, “With the World Economic Forum predicting that 97 million new job roles will be created by 2025 (and that 85 million jobs will be eliminated at the same time), organisations need to have a better understanding of how work gets done”.

She cited the example of relationship managers in retail banking, whose traditional work remit was to attend to and convert walk-in customers. With prevalence of Internet Banking today, these relationship managers now need to be able to work with data and analytics, as well as be digitally savvy and customer focused.

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“Organisations need to look at how work is being done and they need to think about how the work is being delivered. Is it in a siloed way, in a department-by-department way, or in a task versus project way?” – Roop Kaistha, Regional Managing Director, APAC, AMS

Roop also shone the spotlight on Unilever, which has started to work with a collection of skills, as opposed to simply focusing on job titles. In certain businesses at Unilever employees spends half of her time in her work department and the other half working in cross-cultural teams, or tribes. This kind of approach is heralding the trend of organisational cross-skilling.

Roop added, “Organisations need to look at how work is being done and they need to think about how the work is being delivered. Is it in a siloed way, in a department-by-department way, or in a task versus project way? Businesses also need to understand how decisions are made. Organisations that are moving towards more agile functioning are giving more and more empowerment to project teams.”

Delivering a skill-based approach successfully

So how is this done? And how do TAs adopt a skill-based hiring approach that will work for their business? Here are some ways this can be done:

  • Reconstruct job descriptions – Change JDs and jobs ads to highlight skills and capabilities over experience and education
  • Maximise technology – Use AI-driven technologies for skills-matching, candidate identification and shortlisting
  • Adjust assessments – Amplify skills in assessments and interviewing methods
  • Talent pools – Create skills-based talent pools instead of job based
  • Adjacent skills – Source and screen based on skills, and train TA teams to look for adjacent skills

Choose a partner that can deliver

Embarking on a skills-based hiring journey can be a considerable step change for any business. So, choosing the right partner, one that can design a skill-based hiring roadmap, understanding what is already in place, and how skills-based approaches are already embedded in other HR practices – is key.

AMS is continuing to empower organisations who have invested in skills-based technology to look at talent holistically. For example, to break down silos, AMS manages the entire talent acquisition process by providing overarching visibility across departments.

AMS also builds specialist teams that take on a workplace planning approach and helps businesses either redesign a job or look at reskilling. More importantly, AMS prepares them for the future by harnessing peoples’ potential.

“While technology is a big enabler, no technology is going to work well in the absence of human touch. To ensure TA teams can successfully transition towards a skills-based approach, we have experts who can support their journey with the right technology,” Roop concluded.

In redefining these processes, AMS audits current activities, technology platforms and evaluates complimentary technology to include skilled-based assessment initiatives. Once optimised, TAs are then trained on screening and interviewing candidates based on skills, and new roles are mapped against future roles and up-skilling interventions.

Need help in putting together a skills-based strategy for your business? Speak with experts from AMS and find out how you can prioritise, diversify and expand your talent pipelines.