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🔧The Future of Jobs: A Skills-First Approach to Hiring and Development

certification change leadership change management professional development skills training Jul 16, 2023
Change Management Training

In a recent report published by LinkedIn, the labor market is undergoing a transformation. Since 2015, the skills employees need for any given role has changed by 25 percent globally, and this number is expected to double over the next five years due to continued advancements in technology and changes in worker demographics worldwide.

At the same time, labor shortages in various industries and sectors have prompted many organizations to look at employee skills, rather than job history and education, as a strategy for hiring and talent management. This is welcome news for potential employees, considering almost 90 percent of hiring managers agree they have overlooked highly skilled candidates in the past because they lacked traditional credentials such as job title or degree.

In a similar report co-authored by the World Economic Forum and PwC, a skills-first approach is beneficial for both employers and employees. Not only can it help leaders find “hidden talent” within the organization, but it also supports talent mobility and redeployment, and promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts.

The shift in focus could not come at a better time. The increase in remote work, use of artificial intelligence (AI) for jobs and skills mapping, and recent growth in the market for online learning programs and micro-credentialing, has given leaders more choices when it comes to developing talent. 

The challenge? Striking the right balance between addressing employee skill gaps caused by changes in the labor market and technology, and gaps in sustainable skills that are less "sexy" but remain relevant because they are transferrable and continue to add value over time.

To do this, leaders must view employee skill development in two ways: vertically and horizontally.

Vertical skills are skills that that are critical for employees within a specific job function, such as programming languages for software developers or knowing how to use Anaplan if you are in finance or accounting. Developing employees’ vertical skills increases their capability within their current role and often results in depth and subject matter expertise, which is highly valued within many organizations.   

Horizontal skills are skills that empower employees to take on more responsibility and increase their overall effectiveness within the organization. For many employees, development of horizontal skills has focused on leadership and management, or learning essential skills such as communication, problem-solving, and teamwork. This article provides another perspective on "T-shaped" skill development. 

Thanks to ongoing technology change, certain skills that are not exactly vertical or horizontal and have historically been linked to specialized roles, such as change management, are now being viewed as relevant for employees in other jobs and capacities. This makes sense, as being able to lead change is a valuable skill in any role, and it creates opportunities to disrupt the training and development industry. 

For decades, the market for specialized skill training (and specifically change management) has been dominated by a few providers offering expensive programs that, upon completion, result in a certificate demonstrating competency. While specialization has helped advance the practice and need for dedicated roles, it's also led to a dynamic where one or two people become responsible for organizational change. This is problematic, as it transfers accountability for success from the many to the few and puts more pressure on full-time practitioners.

In a whitepaper written by Nick Petrie the Center for Creative Leadership, all leaders need vertical and horizontal skills to think strategically and lead people through change. To redistribute ownership of change initiative outcomes, we'd add that developing change management skills can help too. The good news is that with the proliferation of online learning platforms and digital credentialling, specialized skill training has become more affordable and accessible than ever before.

Whether you’re an employer looking to upskill your workers to promote from within or an individual looking for the next step in your career, a skills-first approach that includes specialized training from a qualified provider can future-proof your organization and future job ambitions. 

For information on Apogy’s change management training and certification program, please click here.

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