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Based on the exchange with other companies about #FutureofWork, I perceive that the topic of skills will be central for SAP and many other companies in 2023. Accelerated digitalization and technological advances are fueling the need for skill transformation across large portions of today’s workforce. The shift of skills accompanied by demographic changes result in a shortage of available talent, and the necessity of a clear understanding of future workforce demands. (see ‚Trend Report 2023‘, Future of Work powered by SAP)

According to Chinese astrology, the Year of the Water-Rabbit begins today, 22 January 2023. Water is a metaphor for the energy flow that reaches everywhere.

With that coming to my tips to push forward the skill transformation in your company:

1.)   Communication & Vision

Like the water that reaches everywhere, the significance and urgency of skills must be clear for the entire organization. Why do we have to deal with it now, even if there are usually many current challenges that tempt one to put skills on the back burner? There is a need for a clear vision that describes what is possible with a holistic consideration and planning of skills.

2.)   Unified Methodology (see below)

In the past, companies have tended to treat skills rather neglectfully: They were mapped to job profiles and the goal was meeting the already existing demand. To push skills holistically forward, a unified company-wide methodology will lay the foundation considering the following tips.

3.)   Standardization

How many skills do exist in companies? Probably more than 4,000 is not an uncommon number for large enterprises. Understandably, these cannot be taken into consideration systematically. Usually, there are deviating definitions for one skill in different business units and even various skill names. A unified and compressed skill taxonomy, based on industry standards, will solve this, and allow benchmarks.

4.)   Focus

Also, the standardized and rationalized skills are not all manageable at the same time. A selection of critical skills is essential. Critical skills sound trivial but identifying solely 15-20 critical skills across the company requires a lot of coordination. (Kudos to Nicole Helmer & business colleagues ;))

5.)   Transparency

After identifying these critical skills, clear transparency about the existing status quo is required as a starting point. Of course, conclusions are possible based on job profiles, however these are often too generic, and a more detailed view is needed. What proficiency level do employees have in a specific skill? Valuable insights can be gained if we combine skill assessments with demographical data – e.g., are there future skill gaps that are foreseeable due to upcoming retirements?

6.)   Future States

One of the biggest challenges from my point of view is the development of ‚Future States‘. It begs the question: To what extent is a specific skill needed to be successful in future (i.e., linked to the company’s strategy)? For this, it is helpful to provide methods (e.g., a Mural workshop template) to develop a clear target picture – who needs to have this skill (e.g., a specific share of employees assigned to a role) and with which proficiency level?

With that, a clear perspective on future requirements and associated gaps are achieved. The gaps can then be efficiently and proactively closed through targeted actions.

With this in mind, I wish you a successful Year of the Water-Rabbit! 🙂

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