Published on

January 12, 2023

The Power of Skill Positioning for Workforce Development

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David Middelbeck

Managing Director


Learning Hub

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In this blog we will dive into the importance of skill positioning. Find out why you should start using skill positioning to your advantage and get to know best practices gathered by the experiences of our experts. Further develop your knowledge on this topic with a recent case study. Enjoy reading!

Understanding the skill sets of your employees and knowing how to position them optimally to achieve organizational goals is a key competitive advantage. In this blog, we will explore the potential of skill positioning in unlocking the full potential of workforce development.

By leveraging the power of skill positioning, organizations will be able to identify its employees’ skill sets better, thus allowing them to make informed decisions regarding their placement and development.

Client Case Study on Skill Positioning

As a start, it is important to understand exactly what skill assessments are and what is involved. Recently we worked with a client whose Learning and Development (L&D) department struggled to provide effective development support to their employees. They were finding it difficult to identify the specific skills to develop and were unable to measure the impact or return of their training programs, despite their best efforts.

This situation changed when they introduced skill positioning into their organization. They now have a clear picture of their current skill profiles and have identified areas for improvement through a process of mapping out relevant skills and positioning individuals based on those skills.

They implemented indirect inference and direct assessment methods to assess the skill sets of their employees. This combination of methods helped them create personalized and adaptive learning experiences and measure their training programs' success and return.

The results were very positive. They were able to identify internal growth opportunities for individual employees, and very importantly, they could also align their skills with the needs of the organization and support workforce planning.

As an added benefit, they found that publishing their skill information and allowing employees to do self-assessments and find their own internal growth opportunities assisted them greatly in building and sustaining a culture of continuous learning and development.

The importance of skill positioning for workforce development is highlighted by the success of this client's L&D department. Organizations can support the development of individual employees while enhancing their organization's learning mindset and culture by identifying and evaluating the skills of their employees.

But what is skill positioning exactly?

Skill positioning, in its simplest form, is the process of identifying and evaluating the skills in an organization. It entails mapping out relevant required skills (through indirect skill inference or skills assessments), using skill positioning to create the organization’s current skills landscape, and positioning or placing individuals in the organization based on those skills.

Skill positioning is used to determine areas of development for individual development and for understanding the skill profiles of an entire organization, team, or cohort. They can also be used to create clarity about current skill sets within organizations.

What is the difference between Indirect Skill Inference and Direct Skill positioning

Two main options for assessing an individual's skills are indirect inference and direct assessment. Let's explore the differences between them as well as their benefits.

Indirect Skill Inference

Using existing documents, such as job descriptions or CVs, to deduce or infer skills based on keywords or position titles is called indirect inference. Various tech vendors and AI-based software support this increasingly popular method.

This method can, however, be less accurate as existing documents that could be outdated are used. Jobs and processes in companies change rapidly, and supporting documentation, and policies do not always reflect these changes.

Direct Skill positioning

On the other hand, direct assessment involves asking the individual in the jobs to rate themselves or answering quiz questions to assess their skills. This direct method allows organizations to create personalized and adaptive learning experiences. This method could be prone to bias and may not always be accurate.

Different people, including assessment by peers, managers, or experts, can also do the rating of the individual's skill. A combination of rater methodologies reduces the likelihood of bias skewing the results. The assessment method may depend on factors such as the skill's complexity, the desired level of control, and the possibility of faking or bias.

Why you should start with positioning

The benefits of using skill positioning in the workplace are many. At the individual employee level, skill positioning can inform learning recommendations, enhance the learning mindset and culture, and identify internal growth opportunities. While at the organizational level, skill positioning can support workforce planning and progress tracking.

Publishing skill information in an organization allows employees to assess their current skill level, seek internal growth opportunities, and support organizational planning and reporting.

Best practices for getting started with skill positioning

Involving all stakeholders in the process is one of the best practices for any skill positioning implementation project. Stakeholders include employees, managers, and HR professionals. Involving all stakeholders helps ensure that assessments are fair, accurate, and relevant to the organization's needs.

Another vital practice is to keep your skill profiles relevant. This means the regular review and updating of the skills being assessed as the needs of the organization and the workforce evolve. Ensuring that the skills being assessed are still relevant can be done through regular surveys, focus groups, and the ongoing monitoring of job postings and industry trends.

Find out more insights on skills

Skill positioning is an invaluable tool for workforce development. When an organization has identified and evaluated the skills at the individual and organizational level, it can understand the skill profiles of its employees, create personalized and adaptive learning experiences, support workforce planning, and enhance career growth by making the skill information public.

The proper implementation of skill positioning needs to involve all stakeholders, the regular review and updating of required skills, and utilizing the best-suited assessment methods. Accurate skill positioning results will enable organizations to make informed decisions about employee placement and development while contributing to a culture of continuous learning and development. It is also important to keep in mind which skills are highly in demand and which are coming up. We talk about this in detail in our skills insight report.

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