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By 2030, it’s predicted that 85% of jobs will be new. This revelation only worsens the existing skills gap companies across the globe are feeling. And talent acquisition and human resources leaders are fully aware – 78% say the skills shortage will be a significant problem in the future, according to a recent Cielo survey of EMEA and APAC leaders.

Many TA leaders are looking for ways to overcome these expected talent shortages. One approach gaining momentum, and for good reason, is skills-based workforce planning. Explore this strategic approach and get tips on the most effective ways to buy, borrow and build the abilities your company needs to thrive. Read on or watch the full webinar, featuring experts from BD and Cielo, on the topic below.

What is skills-based workforce planning?

Workforce planning is how a company ensures it has the right resource to deliver its business goals. It’s both an internal and external assessment of the available talent. Typically, the “right” talent to deliver the strategy is defined by the hard and/or technical experience held by the individual. Skills-based workforce planning opens this definition to include both the technical and soft skills that will best deliver the right business outcomes. This allows a company to assess for the strengths, such as the ability to deal with ambiguity and learning agility as well as hard skills that will drive business performance.

For many businesses, a growing share of roles require competencies that didn’t exist in the workforce 10 years ago. Sally Hunter, Executive Vice President – Commercial Markets at Cielo, says skill requirements will continue to change as businesses adapt to new macro-economic paradigms – but what’s equally important is the need for key soft skills, such as dealing with constant change and remote leadership.

“Over the next five years, businesses will be increasingly focusing on these soft skills over ‘in role’ experience to enable growth and agility,” said Hunter. “Identifying these skill gaps and then filling them – whether by buying them in via new hires, borrowing them for short-term contracts, or building them internally through development opportunities will be key. A few examples of key skills moving forward: Lateral thinking, creative thinking; an entrepreneurial mindset; and astute risk management.”

How do you evolve a skills-based workforce planning strategy?

Workforce planning begins with segmentation. It can be overwhelming to do this company-wide, so initially focus on the “critical” 10-15% of roles that’ll drive growth and success. Work closely with leaders to define the hard and soft skills needed for success – now and for future consideration. Find any gaps and figure out how to buy, borrow or build the talent to fill them.

Once you have a direction, Hunter recommends you:

  • Educate your HR and hiring community: Change management is needed to ensure everyone understands they need to look at talent differently.
  • Train your hiring managers: Define which soft skills are key for your target roles. Then train hiring managers on how to identify and assess those skills.
  • Identify your high performers: High performers will help advocate for why target skill sets are business critical. You can also assess them when building your ideal talent profile.
  • Perform tests and experiments: Run competency and skills-based recruitment in parallel – to show where there are commonalities and to fine-tune the abilities you’re looking for.

A real-world example of buying scarce skills

BD, one of the world’s largest medical technology companies, is using skills-based workforce planning to grow its Medication Management Solutions (MMS) division. The MMS sales team needs talent with specific technology experience, which isn’t common in the medical industry.

“We decided to take the time to perform a thorough talent analysis to discover where this tech-savvy sales talent actually existed,” said Madeleine Lüdemann, BD’s EMEA Director of Talent Acquisition and Management. “What sectors were relevant? Who would we be competing with and did this talent actually even exist in the marketplace?”

BD collaborated with Cielo to define the requirements and identify key abilities, resulting in a cross-industry study for prospective candidates for sales representatives and business development managers in target markets across Europe.

“The analysis covered not just our competitors in med tech, but also adjacent sectors which ensured we could really broaden our access to new talent. We were able to create a talent pool of more than 200 engaged cross-industry candidates wanting to join MMS, and from that pool, we have hired talented new associates into the organization. Taking the time to plan like this is essential when looking for hard-to-find or newly developing skills,” said Lüdemann.

Driving internal mobility and development

BD knows the power of employee surveys. That’s how the company learned its people wanted more investment in career planning.

“We realized we were losing people to external opportunities that were actually available internally. Some associates weren’t aware of these opportunities,” said Lüdemann. “Even more importantly, many didn’t understand how their skills were transferable, and could be utilized to enable them to move to other roles within the company.”

Discussions about critical roles and talent take place monthly across EMEA. Globally, higher-level conversations about the talent that needs to move across the business happen quarterly.

“Recently we’ve launched a ‘hiring differently’ campaign led by our CEO, asking our leaders to look at the talent they have and think about building on internal candidates’ skills before hiring externally. If we have someone with 80% of the skills, how can we develop them in their role, to get them performing in the right way as fast as possible?”

And BD’s seeing results, with internal recruitment increasing quarterly.

“We haven’t completely cracked seamless talent brokering yet,” said Lüdemann. “We have, however, come to understand that developing a much stronger relationship between talent acquisition and talent management is a vital part of the strategy, as is coming together with the wider HR community and business leaders to build a holistic skills-based planning solution.”

Partnering with learning and development

To make your skills-based management strategy come to life, align your learning and development strategy. BD began by redefining its L&D strategy to focus on experience and agility to drive growth.

Hannah Bunt, BD’s EMEA Senior Manager of Learning and Development, says, “Throughout the process, we’ve been happy to experiment, testing new ideas and formats to see what works best. This has been especially true when it comes to how we communicate the overarching message that we are moving to a new skills-based talent strategy that will empower everyone to upskill and develop. We delivered a range of communication solutions, including virtual training sessions, bespoke digital learning opportunities, hosted leadership dialogue webinars, and new learning pathways. To help drive the development of our ‘power skills’ we also created a virtual instructor-led series.”

Start your skills-based workforce planning journey

Bunt concludes: “To transform into a skills-based culture, you need to be bold and try new things. You need to accept that while some initiatives will be a success, not all of them will work. But we know that, over the next 10 years, staying as we are will not lead us to success, so being brave and taking risks is essential.”

Ready to start building a bright future for your company through skills-based workforce planning? A strategic talent acquisition partner will help you evaluate for gaps, set goals, and chart a clear path forward.