Navigating Digital Disruption Through Skills-Based Learning

June 28, 2024 | What's Hot | 5 min read

In a recent Deloitte survey, 63% of executives say that work in their organizations is currently being performed in teams or projects outside of people’s core job descriptions. Simply put, it’s less about whose job description the work lives in and more about who has the skills to get the work done. 

It may be a given at this point, but the skills you need to succeed in the modern workplace have changed. And that means it’s becoming increasingly important that organizations remain agile and begin to reframe the way they look at employee development and career planning. The organizations that retain top talent and quickly scale skill development for the new way of working will be prepared to excel. 

Why transition to a skills-based L&D approach? To give your talent a chance to live up to their professional goals.

The Deloitte survey also uncovered that only 18% of executives today strongly agree that their workforce is using their skills and capabilities to their fullest potential, and fewer than half of the executives report that they can quickly and easily move skills to where they are needed most as work evolves. 

The question now becomes, how can your organization expedite skill development with purpose while establishing skills as the cornerstone of your learning and development approach?

A Skills-based Framework is the Way of the Future

The reality is, the skills employees need to excel at work are continuously changing. A great example of that is the way AI has begun to infiltrate every part of business, from coding to HR to marketing. But, while AI is exciting, we know there are certain cybersecurity risks that may not be top of mind for every employee. 

At an unprecedented rate, leaders are being challenged to adopt a skills-based learning and development approach to protect their important information and empower employees to use AI ethically and effectively. 

Pivoting the organization to a skills-based approach requires learning and development frameworks to move away from redundant training programs that emphasize outdated competencies, and instead, focus on identifying, nurturing, and deploying critical skills that align with future business needs, like AI. 

An essential component is the creation of dynamic learning pathways tailored to individual employees. A personalized approach ensures that learning is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. By leveraging advanced assessment tools and continuous feedback mechanisms, employees can progress through skill-based milestones that align closely with their career goals and the organization’s strategic objectives.

The skills employees need to succeed will continue to change, and the first way organizations can begin to pivot is by evolving their L&D approach. It’s no longer a nice-to-have, it’s become the key to acquiring competitive advantage. 

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Traditional L&D vs. Skills-Based L&D

Traditional L&D programs often focus on generic training modules that may not align with the specific needs of the organization or its employees. They are designed according to linear career paths, and often focus on training employees to advance based on a linear career path, rather than skills which could transfer across different paths. 

In contrast, a skills-based L&D approach tailors learning initiatives to develop competencies directly linked to business objectives. This targeted approach is more efficient and effective, as it addresses actual skill gaps within the workforce.

For instance, as highlighted in Skillsoft’s Lean into Learning report, we partnered with Vodafone to create an AI-driven learning management system that illustrates the success of a skills-based approach. By focusing on ten priority skills critical for their transformation, Vodafone saw a 66% increase in learning hours per employee globally.

Read the full story.

Beginning the Pivot to a Skills-Based Approach

Navigating the future of work requires a pivotal shift towards a skills-based approach, fostering an environment where talent and practical expertise take precedence over traditional credentials.

Identifying Key Skills and Competencies

Conducting a Skills Gap Analysis

A thorough skills gap analysis is the foundation of any skills-based L&D program. This process involves assessing current employee competencies against the skills required to achieve organizational goals. Tools such as surveys, interviews, and assessments can help identify these gaps. For example, are the front-line managers are your warehouse able to effectively manage a crisis with a vendor. By taking a skill benchmark assessment, the organization can begin to pinpoint any knowledge gaps and prioritize a learning path that remedies those gaps. Understanding where skills are lacking enables organizations to design targeted development programs that address specific needs.

Prioritizing Skills

Determining which skills are most critical to the organization requires aligning skill priorities with strategic goals. Criteria for prioritization could include the potential impact on business performance, the urgency of the need, and the feasibility of development. 

This could look like educating healthcare workers on how AI data processing tools are being used in their organization or ensuring all front-line managers at a distribution center have foundational leadership training.

By focusing on high-priority skills, organizations can ensure their L&D efforts drive meaningful progress.

Designing the Skills-Based L&D Blueprint

In an era where adaptability is key, designing a skills-based learning and development blueprint is crucial for future-proofing your workforce. This strategic framework not only aligns employee growth with organizational goals but also ensures that your team remains competitive and innovative in a rapidly changing business landscape.

Setting Clear Objectives – An effective skills-based L&D blueprint starts with clear, measurable objectives. These goals should delineate what the organization aims to achieve through its L&D initiatives, both in the short and long term. For example, objectives might include increasing proficiency in specific technical skills or enhancing leadership capabilities across the organization.

Creating a Structured Plan – Outlining a detailed plan for implementing the L&D blueprint is crucial. This plan should include steps and timelines for rolling out various learning initiatives, integrating multiple learning methods such as online courses, workshops, and on-the-job training. A structured approach ensures that all aspects of the program are coordinated and effective.

Selecting the Right Tools and Resources – Choosing the appropriate platforms, technologies, and resources is key to supporting skill development. Internal resources such as subject matter experts and external vendors platforms that can provide valuable content and tools. Utilizing these resources effectively can help deliver comprehensive and engaging learning experiences.

Once the organization feels confident in their foundational skills and implementation plan, the next logical step is pushing it out to the rest of the organization. 

Organizations that embrace a skills-based approach to talent development will enhance workforce agility, improve employee performance, and increase retention rates by providing clear development paths and growth opportunities. Resulting in a more adaptable, productive and satisfied workforce. 

The time to act is now. Let Skillsoft help you scale skill development across your organization and propel your business outcomes forward.