The world of work is poised for a dramatic reinvention, similar to the industrial revolution which saw new, more efficient machinery and manufacturing processes replace many outdated manual working practices, says Andreas De Neve.

In a similar vein, the advent of new technology, working patterns and other macroeconomic factors look set to change how we plan, manage and upskill the workforce of the future.

To prepare for this, many organisations are increasingly shifting towards a skill-based workforce, where skills are the currency as opposed to jobs.

However effective transformation relies on clear, intelligent and dynamic data. Business and HR leaders, however, are still struggling with where to start with disparate streams of information, often sitting in siloes across an organisation.

Skills-based planning

According to LinkedIn’s 2022 Workplace Learning Report, the organisations that shift to skills-based planning have a “unique chance to catalyse learning culture and capitalise on emerging trends — especially the convergence of learning, talent acquisition, talent development, and the red-hot rise of internal mobility”. Some 85 million jobs are predicted to be displaced by 2025 while 97 million new jobs will emerge. For those who can reskill and redeploy their workforces effectively, there is an unparalleled opportunity to meet the new expectations and opportunities offered by automation, AI, and other technologies.

The foundation of all skill-based efforts — whether that’s hiring, upskilling, promoting, or performance — relies on high-quality, accurate skill data. But traditional approaches like surveys and consulting often give disparate, static results and can sometimes perpetuate bias towards “old school” metrics like length of tenure, job title and educational background.

Creating a good skill-based organisation (SBO) means creating a strong skill framework — think of it like the foundations of a building. It needs to be solid enough to hold up your entire organisation and to protect it against the elements for many years to come.

If the basis of a good skill framework is skill data, then it makes sense that your framework is only as effective as the skill data feeding into it. So a critical step in building your framework and moving towards an SBO is to understand what ‘good’ skill data looks like — you should be aiming to get data that is complete, accurate, unbiased and updated.

For some organisations, the prospect of creating a skill framework from scratch is daunting. There can be thousands of skills within one workforce. However, most organisations already have skill data within their HR, learning, project management, and file storage systems. Every time a worker completes a task, sends a public message, finishes a course, or offers feedback on a peer, they generate skill data.

You just have to unlock it — and use AI to transform your disparate skill data into an actionable, structured skill framework.

Using AI to make your skill data accurate

Skills simply change too often for us to manually keep up. However, advances in AI mean that it’s now possible to create highly accurate and dynamic skill databases that evolve and update as external factors or business needs change. An AI-powered data platform will work to automatically capture emerging skills and competencies within an organisation’s workforce so HR and business leaders always have an up-to-date view of skills.

AI can also augment internal skill data with public data on job descriptions and the labour market, further enriching the skill data you have available to base decisions on and ensuring you maintain an outward perspective on skills, rather than just replicate what has always been the case in your organisation.

Nevertheless, it is important to remember that AI is only as good as the data sources it works with. Give it inaccurate data, and you’ll get inaccurate results. AI, working at scale in your organisation, can drastically increase bias if it is modelled on biased or incomplete data. Before you even start giving your AI skill data to train on, you need to audit your data to ensure it’s as accurate and representative as possible.

Getting started

The journey to becoming an SBO starts with a strong skill framework. With everyone working together, using the same language for skills, you will find initiatives like talent marketplaces and skill-based hiring go a lot more smoothly. Moreover, you will gain the visibility needed to understand what skills you have now and what you will need in the future. Your skill framework will pay off for decades to come, playing a leading role in every transformation you must as your business, and the world of work, evolves.


Andreas De Neve is the CEO and Co-founder of TechWolf.