Published on

April 16, 2024

Skill-Based Learning: The Future of Talent Development


Marius Vennemann

Managing Director


Learning Hub

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Future of talent development

Many companies have already recognized that the future of learning is skill-based. The working world is in a constant state of flux, driven by technological advancements, demographic changes, and evolving market demands. In this dynamic environment, companies must be flexible and adaptable to remain competitive. A central component of this adaptability is the ability to develop and deploy employees' talents strategically.Traditional approaches to talent development, focusing on rigid job profiles and fixed responsibilities, are increasingly reaching their limits. Instead of focusing on job descriptions, forward-thinking companies recognize the importance of skills and competencies as drivers of success. This skill-based mindset allows organizations to quickly adapt to changing requirements and respond flexibly to new challenges.In this context, skill-based learning and talent development are becoming increasingly important. L&D teams play a crucial role in designing and implementing training programs that not only address employees' current needs but also foster their long-term development and ensure they acquire the skills needed for the future.

The following five steps are presented to support L&D professionals in implementing a competency-based learning strategy to foster talents effectively:

The Importance of Skill-Based Learning

Traditional models of talent development often relied on fixed job profiles and career paths. However, these static approaches are increasingly inadequate for meeting the constantly changing demands of modern work life. Fixed responsibilities and rigid role descriptions are difficult to reconcile in a work context where roles and skills are increasingly blurred and even non-technical professions are being radically digitized.

Companies and their employees must be able to adapt quickly to these changes to remain competitive. Skill-based learning enables organizations to gain clarity about the skills available within the company, define which future skills will be relevant, and systematically and effectively close the gap (the skill gap) through training measures.

And while many companies have already recognized that focusing on skills is the key to addressing these challenges, there is a lack of pragmatic approaches to starting with skills and enabling skill-based learning in the company. Nevertheless, transitioning to a skill-based learning approach is an important step for companies, and we want to show you in this blog that getting started doesn't have to be as complicated as it may seem.

By the way, we have a masterclass on this exact topic, where we guide you or your team step by step on how to develop into a skill-based organization and lay the groundwork for many skill-based processes. You will learn, among other things, how to build a skill taxonomy, how to use skill profiles, and much more.

8 Steps to Skill-Based Learning

Step 1: Establishing a Common Language for Skills (Skill Database)

The first crucial step is to establish a common skill language by building a skill database. Often, various job descriptions, role profiles, and training catalogs already exist that can serve as a basis for defining relevant skills and competencies for the company. A scalable foundation is essential to work with skills in the long term and across the entire employee lifecycle. Therefore, creating a consistent and understandable terminology is of great importance. This process can be significantly supported by AI-based tools, which enable the extraction of skills from existing documents and create a basis for the skill database, based on industry standards and/or existing skill databases.

Step 2: Capturing Internally Available Skills

The second step is to capture the existing skills within the company. This step is crucial because companies need to gain clarity about which skills are already present and create transparency about which employee possesses which competencies. This involves not only identifying the required skills for various roles but also involving employees and managers in the process of assessing their own skills. AI-assisted tools can simplify this process by facilitating the capture and updating of the skill database.

Step 3: Defining the Necessary Future Skills

In the third step, it is crucial for companies to gain clarity about where they want to go. This means identifying the skills and competencies that will be relevant in the future to remain successful and competitive in the long term. This forecast can be based on external benchmarks, the so-called skill market data. These data can be defined industry-specifically to develop a target scenario that meets future requirements. Furthermore, it is important to consider trends and developments in the industry and technological advancements to ensure that the defined future skills align with the changing market demands.

Step 4: Identifying the Skill Gaps (Skill Gap Analysis)

After capturing the existing skills and defining a target scenario, it is now crucial to identify the qualification gaps that need to be closed. This analysis includes both the current and future requirements for employees. Not only should immediate skill gaps be considered, but potential future requirements should also be taken into account to ensure that employees are prepared for changing demands in the long term. This analysis can be conducted through various methods such as employee surveys, performance reviews, and comparisons with industry standards. It is important that this analysis is regularly updated to meet continuously changing requirements.

Step 5: Linking Skills and Learning Content

It is crucial to establish a clear connection between the existing learning content and the relevant skills. Many companies struggle to make this connection as it is often challenging to scale skills with the corresponding content. This difficulty is often overlooked. Skill extraction services offer a solution to this problem. These services, often based on AI, enable the quick and efficient linking of existing training catalogs with relevant skills. In this way, companies can enable skill-based learning by ensuring that the content is specifically tailored to developing certain skills.

Step 6: Providing Missing Learning Content

After your training catalog has been linked to skills, you may find that appropriate training content is not available for all required future skills. Therefore, it is crucial to close these gaps. Solving these content gaps can be done in various ways and depends on the content to be conveyed. Companies have the option to create their own content, acquire content from providers, or even use AI technologies to generate customized content.

Step 7: Utilizing AI-Powered Learning Recommendations to Provide Skill-Based Learning

With the establishment of a common language for skills, the identification of existing and required skills, and the development of missing training content, the foundation for skill-based learning is laid. Now, intelligent systems can take on much of the work. Skill-based learning platforms like edyoucated offer automatic recommendations for the right content based on employees' required skills and find the appropriate content from your training catalog. This process is called macro-personalization. At a micro-level, modern tools can tailor the content within the individual learning paths to ensure that learners receive only the units they need. This helps avoid boredom or overwhelm through adaptive learning paths. This ensures that each employee has access to the learning content relevant to them and can develop their skills strategically and effectively.

Step 8: Measuring the Effectiveness of Skill-Based Learning

Finally, it is crucial to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the implemented measures. This includes continuously monitoring relevant metrics to assess learning success and considering employee engagement and satisfaction as indicators of the success of the L&D strategy. By analyzing learning progress and employee engagement, weaknesses can be identified, and measures for continuous improvement can be initiated. Based on the data and insights gathered, the strategy is continuously adjusted and optimized to meet the needs of employees and the goals of the company.

Moreover, modern platforms offer advanced skill analytics, called skill DNA dashboards, which show how the skill structure in your company behaves and changes over time. These dashboards enable leaders and HR managers to gain detailed insights into the development of their employees' skills and competencies. By visualizing data and trends, weaknesses can be quickly identified, and proactive measures can be taken to strengthen the required skills and ensure that employees are optimally prepared for the company's and the labor market's requirements.

Conclusion: How to Get Started with Skill-Based Learning

The transition to skill-based learning marks a significant step for companies towards more effective and targeted employee development. Thanks to our many years of experience and modern technologies, we have already supported numerous companies on this journey. Often, the process sounds more complicated than it actually is. However, today we can make the start of skill-based learning simple and effective without requiring a significant amount of time from companies. By establishing a common language for skills, identifying existing and future skills, linking them with relevant learning content, and using modern technologies such as AI-based learning recommendations and skill analytics, companies can enable a customized and efficient learning process.

This approach not only helps promote individual skill development among employees but also strengthens the company's overall competitiveness. Continuous monitoring and evaluation of learning measures enable companies to flexibly respond to changes and continuously optimize their L&D strategy.

Thus, the start of skill-based learning opens up new opportunities for companies to strategically develop their employees to meet the demands of an ever-changing work environment and ensure long-term success.

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edyoucated is funded by leading research institutions such as the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).

Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung (BIBB)