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Opinion

Skills: The Story of the Moment

Join L’Oreal, HP, Legal & General and Coursera to explore the story of the moment: building skills at speed and scale.

Kate Graham

Unleash Your People Kate Graham, Head of Content Labs & Insight, asks why the spotlight is shining so brightly on skills and how to start tackling your strategy for learning and development.

Confession time. I’ve worked in and around learning and development for 18 years now (cough cough). Apart from the fact this means time is well and truly marching on, it also means I have been talking about skills my whole career.

From mapping out skills pathways in my first job, to presenting research on skills trends in my most recent role, they have been an ever-present topic. And for good reason of course. How can you talk about learning without somehow referencing skills?

But in the last year, the landscape has well and truly shifted. From enormous investment in skills platforms and the creation of several new billon-dollar learning tech unicorns. To a far more strategic conversation about skills at the very top level of organizations. We aren’t in Kansas any more Toto – this has now gone way outside being just an L&D issue.

a key role for learning

There are obvious reasons for this explosion of interest in skills as organizations upskilled and reskilled in the face of pandemic-induced pivots. Now with the ‘great resignation’ upon us and the good old war for talent reignited, skills is definitely the story of the moment.

The City & Guilds Skills Index finds that there has been a ‘growing mismatch between the skills people have, and the ones needed by businesses today and in the future – suggesting that businesses’ productivity and ability to succeed is at stake’.

McKinsey’s 2021 skills research tells us that the need for manual and physical skills will decline thanks to the rise of automation, AI and robotics. Meanwhile demand for technological, social and emotional and higher cognitive skills will grow. ‘But it is hard to devise curricula and the best learning strategies without being more precise about the skills needed. It is difficult to teach what is not well defined.’

Because just as time has slipped through my fingers (seriously, 18 years?!) skills can be a difficult concept to pin down. It’s all very well paying lip service to skills development being business critical. But what does that mean in practice? Where do you even start defining the skills you need in-house, whether you build or buy, and identifying where the gaps are?

I’m delighted to say it isn’t up to me to provide you with the answers. On the 14th September I am joined by an incredible panel of people development leaders to share their first-hand insights on all this and more..

Your chance to ask the experts

In Building a Skilled Workforce at Speed and Scale we will hear from Elisa Bassi, Global People Development & Learning Director at L’Oreal, Addie van Rooij, VP People Operations at HP Enterprise, Gemma Paterson, Head of Development Experiences & Innovation at Legal & General and Kyle Clark, Senior Skills Transformation Consultant at Coursera.

We’ll be exploring:

• The decentralization of skills
• Whose responsibility is skills development anyway? The organization? The line manager? The individual? Or all of the above?!
• Creating a skills strategy that engages and excites your people
• The role of technology
• How our experts are tackling this topic with a combined workforce of over 155,000 people

I look forward to sharing more insights from the session a column soon but hope you can join us on the day and put your skills questions to them in person.

Kate Graham is Head of Content Labs & Insight at UNLEASH. Catch her across our webinars and roundtable schedule here.

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