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How Skills Mapping Enables Your Workforce to Adapt to Competitive Changes

Skills mapping enables HR leaders to analyze the skills a workforce has and create initiatives to develop the workforce and organization will need in the future.

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A shortage of formally qualified candidates across many industries has organizations turning toward skill-based hiring to recruit and retain the talent they need and even gain an edge over competitors.

LinkedIn reported the number of U.S. job postings advertising skills and responsibilities instead of qualifications such as degrees has increased 21%. The number of positions that didn’t require a degree at all saw a 40% increase within a single year.

But to make use of this new way of hiring effectively, organizations must harness skills mapping.

Employers around the globe are working to map and classify tasks and jobs based on skills, instead of traditional models that value college degrees and experience in certain roles.

Using skills mapping, employers can understand what untapped skills are already present in their organizations, and where there’s potential to upskill and reskill workers.

Companies such as Walmart, McDonalds, and Google already offer reskilling and upskilling programs. JPMorgan Chase has a $600 million plan to upskill its workforce and PwC is investing $3 billion to upskill 275,000 employees over the next three to four years.

Skills mapping can help you identify critical skills, whether technical, such as coding in a particular programming language, or so-called “soft skills” that enable teamwork and problem solving.

The process of skills mapping is also critical to workforce forecasting, the strategic process that HR leaders use to peer into the future and understand what talent needs will look like one year, five years or further in the future.

With skills gaps identified, businesses can use digital learning programs that lead to verifiable credentials to fill in talent gaps that skills mapping helps to identify. Before you can take advantage of skills mapping and transition to a skills-based talent management strategy, it’s vital to identify the core skills required by people across your organization.

The Promise of Skills Mapping

Skills mapping yields valuable intelligence that drives business strategy. It can help your organization attract and retain the right talent, energize upskilling and reskilling programs, and provide a clear path from the workforce you have to the workforce your organization needs.

HR executives who introduce skills mapping to their organization can play a more strategic role in helping the business meet its goals.

Skills mapping offers quick and accurate overviews of the strengths and capabilities of an organization, a department, a team, or an individual. Mapping each level of your organization can bring forward the potential to significantly enhance the overall competitiveness and success of the business.

How Skills Mapping Makes Organizations More Competitive

A complete skills map can address every level of your operation, providing enhanced data insights. It can identify crucial tasks and requirements required to meet current demands on the organization, as well as future opportunities.

You can map the skills of individuals, teams, departments, and the organization-wide talent pool. Skills mapping at each level helps you identify under-used or untapped employee skills and measure the skill level of your overall workforce.

No matter what level you need to consider both:

  • Current skills — what your workforce already knows how to do.
  • Future skills — what your future workforce will need to know to ensure your organization can execute its strategy.

Your talent pool skills map reveals who your most valuable employees are and who is most suitable for upskilling and reskilling. It also reveals “buddy opportunities” — key individuals that other employees can approach for advice, assistance, and coaching.

Knowing which employees will benefit from additional training is a highly profitable talent management strategy. It is always typically more cost effective to upskill and reskill than it is to recruit and train talent from outside the organization.

Integrating skills mapping into your recruiting and onboarding processes can ensure that your skills map stays accurate as new people join the organization and job roles change. Ideally, individuals and their supervisors should review individual skills maps regularly to track employee growth and identify areas for growth. These efforts can also boost retention.

Comprehensive skills mapping simplifies the process of monitoring, tracking, and evaluating skills advancement and the overall career growth of individuals, teams, and entire departments.

How Organizations Should Approach Skills Mapping

Though skills mapping offers plenty of benefits, there are also practical challenges to implementing it, especially in medium and large organizations. Who gathers the information? Who manages the documents and database? Who keeps it updated?

In an organization with thousands of employees — and potentially just as many distinct skills — skills mapping can quickly become overwhelming.

An objective digital skills credentials solution is a good start to skill mapping. When your team members meet learning goals and earn credentials, they effectively create their own skills map. But it’s still up to HR leaders to visualize what those credentials mean to the organization and how that shapes learning and development programs, retention initiatives and recruiting.

One common, albeit labor-intensive, method of skill mapping is matrices.

A skills matrix is a table or spreadsheet. On one axis are individuals, teams, or departments. On the other axis are the skills your organization needs now and in the future. By matching the skills matrix of some part of your organization with future needs, you can start identifying opportunities and gaps in your workforce. An analysis can reveal where your organization is relying on too few individuals for critical skills, where some skills are entirely absent, and where the talent pool is over-invested in certain skills.

But creating a matrix-based system can be a huge undertaking, and doing so manually is typically a recipe for frustration. Ensuring accuracy and keeping it updated as employees come and go, roles change, the marketplace shifts, and the organization adapts is nearly impossible.

Workforce planning solutions automate most of the process, reducing the resources required to create skills maps and providing fresh insights. Solutions that incorporate artificial intelligence provide new capabilities to create and understand skill maps faster and more accurately.

Cutting-edge skills mapping software can extract data from digital credentials and various other sources where your employee data is stored. When in search of a solution that facilitates skills mapping, it's crucial to pay close attention to its well-structured skills ontology, as it offers valuable insights into the interconnectedness of skills.

A solution that provides real-time data, offering a comprehensive and constantly updated list of workforce skills, is a necessity for organizations aiming to lead in talent management strategies. This is precisely what Faethm by Pearson delivers through its Occupation Mapping tool, empowering managers and HR leaders to chart out skills pathways — a map to the workforce of the future.

Use accessible, accurate, and inferred data to develop skills maps for every level of your organization. Our workforce solutions provide organizations with forward-looking analytics, and up-to-date skills data that workforce planning teams can use to take a skills-based approach to talent management. Learn how we can quickly and confidently map your skills, normalize your data, and develop an impactful job architecture.