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Ideas and insights for today’s people-centered leaders.

At our Outsmart panel, Solving the Skills Challenge with Data, Ian Cook, Visier’s VP of People Analytics, spoke with three experts about the challenges of skills development in today’s workforce. 

Sergey Bukharov, CPO at Skyhive, Roel Duess, Head of Global Solutions Consulting at Fuel50, and Mark Hanson, Product Owner of Skills at Emsi, each discussed their business’ unique use case for addressing the skills challenge with people data. 

Here, we break down how each of these innovative companies use skills and people data to empower employees to build careers that will develop along with the marketplace.

Fuel50: How to find the right career growth opportunities

Fuel50 uses skills as a foundation for connecting employees with opportunities to learn, grow, and move forward in their careers. Fuel50 matches workers with opportunities by creating skill-based profiles that capture their values, working style, interests, and the directions in which they want to grow and develop. The platform promotes upskilling, reskilling, and constant learning by sharing projects, roles and other opportunities available within the users’ workplace.

“With a deep thought leadership background in AI and psychology, we’ve developed a service that combines AI and human intelligence to create what we consider to be an agile, inclusive workforce architecture for organizations,” shares Roel Deuss. 

The platform uses this combination of tech to analyze the skills required by roles and projects available within an organization, and the skills possessed or desired by its people. Then, it suggests growth opportunities to workers as action items, empowering them to upskill or reskill based on their own interests. 

Fuel50 benefits both organizations and their people. By profiling their employees and better understanding them, businesses can assemble a ‘skill inventory’ that can be benchmarked against standards for their industry or geographical area. 

This knowledge provides companies with the foundation of data they need for effective workforce planning. “Once you have your organizational strategy, you can figure out: Do I have the right skills and capabilities to be able to meet those objectives? Should I build these skills internally, or bring them in from the outside markets?” explains Deuss. 

In a post-COVID-19 workforce that’s increasingly distributed, people have access to more opportunities than ever before. That means that to avoid losing their most talented people, businesses must provide them with opportunities for growth and internal mobility, which Fuel50 has been shown to improve by as much as 60%. Unsurprisingly, the platform also has benefits for employee engagement, since people are much more likely to stay with their employer if they see a clear path forward for them within the organization. 

“What we’re providing to enterprises is opportunities visibility,” says Deuss. “It goes both ways. It’s opportunities visibility for employees, but it’s also the organization. The structure and foundations of the Fuel50 opportunity marketplace is basically to look at people through the lens of their skills and capabilities.”

Skyhive: Why understanding how skills and roles evolve is crucial

Skyhive also uses people data to help companies plan the future of their workforces, but it does so by enabling reskilling, driven by AI and what the company terms “quantum labour analysis.”

“This is the combination of large scale, real time data collection and aggregation with cutting edge artificial intelligence, that allows us to analyze movements within labor markets externally and internally to an organization at a really granular skill level,” explains Serge Bukharov. By processing millions of documents, job descriptions, CVs, government datasets and more, the platform tracks the relationships between roles and the skills they actually require, and how those relationships change over time. 

“Organizations don’t exist in a vacuum,” continues Bukharov. “Everything around an organization’s talent strategy… will need to be informed by the capability of their individuals and their staff, but also the availability of supply and talent externally, in the market.” 

Having this clearer sense of in-demand skills in their marketplace, and the directions in which they’re likely to shift, is crucial for organizations to plan how to reskill their people effectively in order to adapt to major workforce shifts like automation. “In many cases, [businesses] know automation is coming, and their people are freaking out,” says Bukharov. “They don’t know who or what’s going to be displaced, because they don’t even know the current state of their people or skills. So the first step fundamentally is asking — okay, what do we have today? Then you can get into asking, where are these shifts occurring that we need to prepare for? And how do we proactively re-skill our people?”

Bukharov sees reskilling not just as important from an ethical perspective–to help people keep up with the demands of the market–but beneficial from a business standpoint, too. “It’s much more cost-effective to re-skill a target population step-by-step, rather than having to do a restructuring every couple of months when you realize you’ve fallen behind on the skills of the workforce,” he explains. 

“The market is dynamic, ever evolving and moving much faster than we can keep up in any sort of manual methodology,” he adds. “You need artificial intelligence to be able to analyze this large-scale movement, to really understand the changes that are occurring.” 

For Skyhive, understanding both the external skills marketplace, and the current state of an organization’s people and their skills allows them to bring their customers value by identifying gaps that should be addressed through proactive reskilling. 

“The beauty of the platform is in aligning that organization’s long-term skilling vision and goals, with the individual movements that need to occur to cascade up into that overall transformation,” says Bukharov. “It’s one thing to identify that future state, but it’s another to actually translate it down to every individual employee.” 

Emsi: The importance of a standardized labor market view 

While Emsi exists in the labor analysis space, they focus on the external market, working towards an ambitious mission—to create a universal language of skills that can be shared by workers, employers, and educators. The company hopes that this standardization will create a more efficient, direct and streamlined labour market. 

“We scrape millions of job postings from all of the major companies, and measure that against all of the data that we have on people, like resume databases and online profiles,” explains Mark Hanson. 

Emsi then aggregates this information to create a big-picture, macro view of everything happening with labor and how specific occupations are shifting and changing. While most countries’ governments do collect and publish this type of data, Emsi adds a high degree of granularity. Their research encompasses detailed data on both demand, sourced from online job postings, and supply, such as from job searcher profiles. 

The company then connects with the community on multiple levels to help them use and get value from this labor data. “For 20 years, we’ve been operating in many spaces within the local economy,” explains Hanson. We have a higher education division. We have a division called Community Insights, which works with local economies at the state, federal, county, and city level, as well as with workforce planning boards. And then we have our enterprise and staffing side working with all of the major large businesses and staffing agencies out there.” 

A common language is needed to create better efficiency, so that businesses can tell job seekers what skills they need. To break down those barriers and create a global language of skills, Emsi has created an open-source, widely accessible skill library.

“Until you do some kind of standardization, you’re just lost in the noise,” Ian Cook adds. “That’s something that AI has brought to this world. AI can now do that classification accurately, faster, and repeatedly, without having to employ an army of psychologists or consultants.”

A new kind of analysis for a new labour market

While Fuel50, Skyhive, and Emsi all approach the skills challenge differently, they all harness the power of artificial intelligence to analyze the market much more quickly and effectively that would ever have been possible before. Not only is AI-driven analysis more accurate and relevant, but it democratizes these kinds of career-building resources, which previously would have been so time- and labor-intensive to produce that they would have been reserved for just a few top performers. 

In a labor landscape that seems to never stop transforming, intuition or gut instinct is no longer enough. Armed with real, objective data about which skills are in demand, today and tomorrow, we can create companies, careers, and workforces that are in step with the skills they need to move forward and realize their potential.

About the Author

People-centered ideas and insights by the editorial team at Visier.

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