Why Soft Skills Are More In Demand Than Ever

Soft skills are more in demand than ever. getty

It used to be that hard skills were valued more than soft skills in the workplace. But that has changed significantly over the last several years. According to Rohan Rajiv, Director of Product Management at LinkedIn, “Foundational soft skills have become even more important given the rise of remote and autonomous work, and are growing in importance across industries, levels and work environments. In fact, these soft skills were featured in 78% of jobs posted globally over the last three months.”

But it’s not just about recruiting employees with the right transferable skills. Companies are also focusing on upskilling workers to address the social and emotional skills that are in high demand. As reported in a McKinsey survey, the proportion of companies addressing empathy and interpersonal skills doubled in 2020. Between 2019 and 2020, skills like leadership and management became a much bigger priority for most companies, jumping ten percentage points year over year, from 40% to 50%.

Soft skills generally refer to categories like leadership, communication and problem-solving. On the other hand, hard skills are the technical capabilities that can be quantified and measured. Typically, workers can acquire this knowledge through formal coursework, on-the-job training and real-world experiences. Based on recent LinkedIn data, “Hard skills can help you get a recruiter’s attention, but soft skills can help you land the job.”

In fact, 45% of all LinkedIn Premium jobs posted within the past three months mention the importance of communication skills. And more than 61% of professionals say soft skills in the workplace are just as important as hard skills. Clearly, soft skills are more in demand than ever. Let’s take a closer look at why and how you can leverage them to future-proof your career.

Soft skills provide career longevity

Technical capabilities can only take you so far in your career. To really soar, you need skills that are harder to measure but critical to success. In LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends report, 89% of recruiters say that when a hire doesn’t work out, it usually comes down to a lack of soft skills. While most people are hired for their technical abilities, their soft skills give them “career durability,” says Alexandra Levit, author of Humanity Works:

Merging Technologies and People for the Workforce of the Future. Levit defines that term as the ability to acquire the skills, knowledge and mindset needed to be an engaged and productive team member. “For someone to be successful ten years down the road, they need to be resilient and be able to reinvent themselves in different learning environments,” she adds.

Soft skills are highly transferable

Technical skills constantly change, but soft skills remain with you throughout your career. That’s because they are relevant, transferable and keep an individual highly employable. In addition, soft skills are desirable because if you already have them, your employer doesn’t have to train you on them. As a result, you can more easily hit the ground running and make valuable contributions.

Rajiv adds, “While companies often offer training in required hard skills, soft skills provide the foundation on which to keep building other skills, which is why they’re so in demand now.” Because of their transferability, soft skills also make it easier to change careers, no matter what industry or company you want to pivot to.

 With companies shifting to hybrid or remote work models, soft skills have become just as important as technical knowledge. For example, effectively communicating and collaborating have become a top priority because those skills are vital to succeed in a virtual world. Also, with remote positions in high demand, the talent pool is increasingly crowded.

Many job applicants will have similar qualifications and technical skills. By highlighting your soft skills, you’ll have a competitive edge so you can land the job you really want. Since the pandemic, soft skills are no longer optional. Instead, they are essential to get hired and succeed in today’s workplace. By keeping them sharp, you’ll be able to stand out, remain competitive, and ultimately future-proof your career.

I’m a career and life coach who helps people go from soul-sucking job to career fulfillment. As the founder of Corporate Escape Artist, I made the leap

Source: Why Soft Skills Are More In Demand Than Ever

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Critics by Helen Colman

When we think about training in the workplace, soft skills can often be overlooked because they’re not as tangible as ‘hard skills’ like coding or advanced Excel skills. But developing soft skill training for employees is just as important as technical skills.

One study by MIT Sloan found that a controlled, 12-month soft skills training trial in five different factories yielded a 250% ROI in just eight months. Their training in soft skills like problem solving and decision making increased productivity, made complex tasks more efficient, and improved employee attendance. 

Stanford Research Institute International determined that 75% of the long-term success in a given job role is based on a mastery of soft skills, and only 25% of that job success comes from technical skills. As you can see, the results from soft skills training are impressive. So let’s take a closer look at how it all works.

What Are Soft Skills? 

Soft skills tend to be more personality-focused, as opposed to being based on qualifications, technical skills, or vocational experience. That includes things like people skills, social skills, interpersonal skills, and transferable skills. 

In contrast, hard skills are technical skills that are often job specific. They come from certification programs, employee training, and work experience and can be taught, measured, and tested through exams and practical assignments or quizzes. 

Hard skills tend to relate to the core business of an organization, such as writing skills, computer networking skills, machine operation, business analysis, design, and construction. Soft skills deal more with interpersonal relationships and involve things like conflict resolution, communication, listening, and problem-solving.

As mentioned, soft skill development is often underestimated and not given due importance. Plus, while hard skills can be learned and mastered over time and with repetition, soft skills can be harder to develop and more difficult to accurately evaluate and measure. These are the reasons for a huge shortage of soft skills in 2020. LinkedIn carried out a study in 2018 covering 100 metropolitan cities in the United States and discovered a communication skills shortage in 1.4 million people. 

But does addressing this gap really make sense? Why do soft skills in the workplace matter?

How Soft Skills Training Can Benefit Any Business

Competencies like communication, conflict resolution, and problem solving underpin almost every facet of business operations. Across your organization, in every business unit and employee role, soft skills are crucial for gaining new clients, improving customer service metrics, and building a stronger team dynamic. 

There are many other organizational benefits to be gained from soft skills programs, and here are our top three:

1. Improve customer service

This could be considered the most obvious benefit of improving soft skills in the workplace. Your employees will be able to actively listen more effectively to establish your customers’ needs, identify problems, and help them resolve it. They are also likely to have more compassion and empathy after enhancement of soft skills, which can have a large positive impact on customer service. 

2. Increase sales

Improving soft skills can benefit your sales team during the sales negotiation process. Employees can use their competencies to engage with the client on a more personal level, without breaching the all-important professional boundaries, and your customers will definitely appreciate this. When employees take additional time to discuss the pain points that your clients experience and match them with the right solution, the sale will result by itself.

3. Improve employee retention

Your organization will retain more talent because you’ve invested in their professional growth, and this pays off. You will reduce the need to hire and train replacement staff, thus reducing organizational costs. 

Additionally, soft skills improve knowledge retention and equip employees to take ownership of their personal development. 

Top Soft Skills That Will Improve Your Employees’ Performance

That list showed you some significant benefits of soft skills training, but what competencies should you concentrate on with your employees to actually achieve all of those gains?

LinkedIn recently published a list of the most in-demand soft skills, and leadership, communication, collaboration, and time management came out as the ones employers were actively seeking. Now let’s take a closer look at the specific skills you should consider training your employees in.

If you identify an employee who has a development need for a specific soft skill like leadership, you can consider bringing in a mentor or coach and tailor a learning approach that’s specific and targeted. The coaching process in the workplace typically implies collaboration with the employee to identify, target, and plan for better performance.

This is how it works: A coach defines the employee’s goals, existing skill sets, strengths, and, of course, weaknesses. For example: the employee finds out that he/she is not good enough at communicating with the staff supervised, so a coach creates a development strategy and provides him/her with a clear pathway to improve their communication skills. When an employee is on their way to implement this strategy, a trainer supports them and provides them with actionable feedback.

Coaching/mentoring is especially effective in imparting soft skills, such as communication and leadership…..

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Five Types Of Talent Behind The Great Resignation

Last summer, Shannon Harrell left a marketing role at Nestlé to work in the then booming telehealth industry at Teladoc Health. Several months later, as her new employer’s stock was falling amid disappointing results, Harrell switched her LinkedIn status to “open to work.” By April, she’d been recruited to run strategic communications and channel marketing at pet insurer PetPartners.

“I saw the writing on the wall,” Harrell says. “The growth of that category looked a little uncertain, so I was—as anyone would be—concerned.”

Harrell is what McKinsey would call a traditionalist, one of five types of talent that has spurred The Great Resignation—and may be key to defeating it. In a new study released Wednesday, the consultancy analyzed data and surveyed more than 13,000 workers worldwide to determine what motivated people in different industries to quit over the past two years in order to figure out what might make them stay.

One thing that cuts across all types of workers is a persistent sense of optimism. Three-quarters of respondents felt it would not be difficult to get a job that’s comparable to, or better than, their current role. “People are confident enough that they don’t even need the other job in hand when they do move,” says Aaron De Smet, a senior partner and co-author of the report. “They’re like, ‘I’ll just quit and go find another job,’ and they’re not worried about it.”

Quitting Trend That Just Won’t Quit

With record-low U.S. unemployment and 11.3 million open jobs, it’s easy to understand the optimism. High demand has enabled more than half of those who quit to not only move into new jobs but also move into new industries. Only 6% made what could be considered a lateral move within their industry. The public and social sector had the greatest attrition rate in the survey, with 57% leaving the sector, while healthcare and pharma had the least.

What matters is that many of them aren’t returning to their former industries or even the job world anytime soon. Of those who quit without a new job in hand, only 47% have returned to the workforce, with 29% returning to traditional full-time employment. “Some companies are waiting for those people to come back,” De Smet says. “And they might be waiting a long time.”

The Five Personas of Quitters

That means employers have to recognize who is open to new jobs—and figure out what it will take to hire and retain them. In the study, McKinsey identified five personas:

  • Traditionalists — Like PetPartners’ Harrell, these are career-oriented workers who are willing to make some trade-offs for the right price. They’re less likely to quit without a job to go to and more likely to stay if they get enough money.
  • Do-it-yourselfers — They emerged as the largest cohort in the study, a group that tends to value flexibility, meaningful work and compensation. Typically 25 to 45, they can be self-employed or doing gig work or part-time jobs. They want flexibility and a friendly work environment.
  • The caregivers and others — These are the people at home but are wanting more. Typically 18 to 44, with more women than men, they decided to sit it out at home and are looking for roles with flexibility that allow them to still continue their caregiving and responsibilities outside their jobs.
  • The idealists — Typically a younger cohort of students and younger part-timers, 18 to 24, this persona wants flexibility, strong organization culture and clear career advancement trajectories. They ranked belonging to an inclusive and welcoming community more highly than the other personas.
  • The relaxers — These are a mix of retirees, those not looking for work and others who might return to traditional work if the job is right. They want meaningful work and balance. Many retired workers are increasingly returning to work following a surge in retirement during the onset of the pandemic.

To appeal to these cohorts and address the attrition-attraction issue, companies need to double down on their value propositions—both traditional, which includes pay, title, benefits and career paths, and nontraditional, which involves flexibility, company culture and personalization, McKinsey outlines.

“There are some super talented people out there sitting on the bench because the offer is still the traditional offer,” De Smet says.

Source: Five Types Of Talent Behind The Great Resignation

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Why Chief Human Resources Officers Make Great CEOs

For decades the corporate HR department was seen as a back-office function, a cost center focused on mundane administrative tasks such as managing compensation and benefits plans. But over the past 15 years Ellie Filler has noticed a dramatic change. Filler, a senior client partner in the Swiss office of the executive recruiting firm Korn Ferry, specializes in placing chief human resources officers (CHROs) with global companies. For years many of the HR chiefs she recruited reported to the COO or the CFO and complained that they lacked real influence in the C-suite.

Today, she says, they often report directly to the CEO, serve as the CEO’s key adviser, and make frequent presentations to the board. And when companies search for new CHROs, many now focus on higher-level leadership abilities and strategy implementation skills. “This role is gaining importance like never before,” Filler says. “It’s moved away from a support or administrative function to become much more of a game changer and the person who enables the business strategy.”

To investigate the CHRO role within the C-suite, Filler worked with Dave Ulrich, a University of Michigan professor and a leading consultant on organization and talent issues. In looking at several sets of data, they found surprising evidence of the increasing responsibility and potential of CHROs.

First, in order to understand the importance of the CHRO relative to other C-suite positions, including CEO, COO, CFO, CMO, and CIO, Filler and Ulrich looked at salaries. To identify the best performers, they found the top decile of earners in each role. Then they averaged the annual base compensation of each group. No surprise: CEOs and COOs are the highest-paid executives. But CHROs are next, with an average base pay of $574,000—33% more than CMOs, the lowest earners on the list. “Great CHROs are very highly paid because they’re very hard to find,” Ulrich says.

The researchers also studied proprietary assessments administered by Korn Ferry to C-suite candidates over more than a decade. They examined scores on 14 aspects of leadership, grouped into three categories: leadership style, or how executives behave and want to be perceived in group settings; thinking style, or how they approach situations in private; and emotional competency, or how they deal with such things as ambiguity, pressure, and risk taking. The researchers then assessed the prevalence of these traits among the different types of executives and compared the results.

Their conclusion: Except for the COO (whose role and responsibilities often overlap with the CEO’s), the executive whose traits were most similar to those of the CEO was the CHRO. “This finding is very counterintuitive—nobody would have predicted it,” Ulrich says.

The discovery led Filler and Ulrich to a provocative prescription: More companies should consider CHROs when looking to fill the CEO position. In the modern economy, they say, attracting the right talent, creating the right organizational structure, and building the right culture are essential for driving strategy—and experience as a CHRO makes a leader more likely to succeed at those tasks.

The advice comes with some caveats. First, Filler and Ulrich studied only the best performers, so they’re pointing to a small subset of CHROs as having corner-office potential. They don’t see a path to the top job among people who have spent their careers in HR; instead, they are touting the prospects of executives who have had broad managerial experience (and P&L responsibility) that includes a developmental stint running the HR department. They emphasize that any CHRO who aspires to become a CEO must demonstrate capabilities in a host of skills required of top leaders.

“The challenge for CHROs is to…acquire sufficient technical and financial skills, in early education and in career steps along the way, if succession to CEO is a desired outcome,” they write in a white paper about their research. Indeed, some companies, including Zurich Insurance, Nestlé, Philip Morris, and Deutsche Bank, do put high-potential executives through a developmental rotation in a high-level HR job. (For one view on facilitating such developmental opportunities, see “It’s Time to Split HR,” by Ram Charan, HBR, July–August 2014.)

Filler and Ulrich highlight two examples of prominent CEOs who had developmental stints in HR earlier in their careers. Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors, served as the carmaker’s vice president of HR for 18 months, and Anne Mulcahy, Xerox’s CEO from 2001 to 2009, ran that company’s HR operations for several years in the early 1990s. It’s no coincidence that both are women: According to the researchers’ data, 42% of high-performing CHROs are female—more than double the share in the CMO position, the next highest (16%). One implication: If more companies envisioned CHROs as potential CEOs, the number of female CEOs could dramatically increase.

In their white paper Ulrich and Filler also report on what CEOs and CHROs have to say about the changing nature of the top HR role. Several CEOs see the CHRO as C-suite consigliere. “It is almost impossible to achieve sustainable success without an outstanding CHRO,” says Thomas Ebeling, the CEO of the German media company ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG and a former CEO of Novartis. “[The CHRO] should be a key sparring partner for a CEO on topics like talent development, team composition, [and] managing culture.”

Peter Goerke, the London-based group director for HR at Prudential, agrees with Filler and Ulrich that although deep skills in marketing or finance might once have given CEO aspirants a significant competitive advantage, today a broader set of people-focused skills can be more useful. “Succession to a CEO role requires a balance of technical and people skills,” he says. “For all C-suite roles, and often at least one level down, there has been a gradual shift in requirements toward business acumen and ‘softer’ leadership skills. Technical skills are merely a starting point.”

In spite of the historic bias against the CHRO function, the rising status of HR leaders is not entirely surprising. Over the past 20 years Jim Collins and other management theorists have focused on talent strategy as the prime determinant of corporate success—an idea Collins popularized in phrases such as “Get the right people on the bus” and “First who, then what.”

In her work recruiting CHROs, Filler has seen a growing recognition that those aphorisms hold true. “If you don’t have the right people in the right places—the right talent strategy, the right team dynamics, the right culture—and if you don’t proactively manage how an organization works from a culture and a people perspective, you’re on a serious path to disaster,” she says. Conversely, a top-notch CHRO can help a company plot a more successful future.

Source: Why Chief Human Resources Officers Make Great CEOs

Critics: by MasterClass staff

A chief human resources officer (CHRO) is an executive-level position that oversees human resources management for a business or organization. The CHRO—sometimes referred to as the chief people officer (CPO) or executive vice president of human resources—directs the HR department and carries out HR policies. Some of the HR functions that CHROs oversee include talent acquisition and retention, performance management, and employee engagement. As the chief HR officer, a CHRO also helps to develop the workplace culture and supports business goals and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

As a leadership role, the CHRO job description includes overseeing the HR directors and HR team carrying out the company’s employee-based initiatives. The CHRO reports directly to members of the top C-suite executive team—often the chief executive officer (CEO) or chief operating officer (COO)—and works to align the HR strategy with the company’s strategic plan and business objectives.

A few of the responsibilities of a CHRO include:

  1. Benefits and labor relations management: A CHRO oversees the implementation of HR software to streamline healthcare and retirement programs, government compliance requirements, and employee relations. They explore partnerships to offer employees new benefits such as wellness programs or professional development opportunities.
  2. Guides company culture: This role in HR leadership includes helping to define and develop company culture for the workforce, executive leadership team, and other stakeholders. Maintaining employee engagement and productivity through incentives, clearly defined career paths and equitable compensation packages, and a commitment to diversity in hiring practices are core components of this human resources function.
  3. Oversees talent recruitment and retention: Talent management is another cornerstone of human capital management and the CHRO role. A CHRO develops and adopts a talent strategy that outlines how to recruit, hire, develop, and retain employees. The talent strategy includes offering equal opportunities to all candidates, employee training initiatives, career development programs, and succession planning, which is a strategy to identify potential leaders when companies change management.

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A Hand Up, Not A Hand Out! To Address Racial And Economic Injustice, Bridge The Skills Gap

There’s a problem with talent in the United States.  Not a lack of it — I would argue the opposite.  The problem is that millions of talented, motivated young people across the country do not have access to the training and job opportunities that could catapult them into the middle class.  

According to the National Skills Coalition, 52% of jobs require education beyond high school — but not a four year college degree.  Yet, only 43% of workers have the skills training needed to fill these roles. Combined with a broken talent ecosystem where nearly all companies compete for entry-level talent on college campuses because they do not know where else to go, the outlook for low-income Americans — and, in particular, Black Americans who are much less likely to have a bachelor’s degree — was grim even before COVID.

For young adults, the pandemic’s long-term impact could be particularly devastating because of a downward trend in college enrollment.  A recent report by Measure of America, A Decade Undone: Youth Disconnection in the Age of Coronavirus, estimates that more than six million young people are now disconnected from school and employment.

Contrary to past recessions, college enrollment rates have dropped significantly due to COVID given the lack of appeal of paying for remote classes and the need to support affected family members, which will have lasting consequences for individuals who never earn a degree.  Historically, less than 13% of people who leave college before graduating ever return.

If we’re going to rebuild the American economy, we will need to invest significantly in alternative pathways to meaningful careers in the coming decade.

One of the most effective pathways is the nonprofit program Year Up, which offers young adults skills training and a guaranteed professional internship — all at no cost to students.  As discussed later, independent evaluations have confirmed its unprecedented impact on earnings for participants.

Since 2000, Year Up has been supplying skilled, motivated talent to hundreds of top companies around the United States.  Year Up’s success over the past two decades in connecting low-income young people of color with careers in finance, IT and other high-growth sectors provides a blueprint for how the country can ensure economic and racial justice for disadvantaged groups through targeted skills training, tangible connections to employment and a working talent ecosystem.

Following the murder of George Floyd, major corporations around the country made promises to create more opportunity for Black Americans and other people of color.  Partnering with organizations like Year Up is a critical component of turning those promises into reality.

I was first introduced to Year Up in 2004.  A friend from Harvard Business School told me to go to Boston and meet with Gerald Chertavian, who had started a new program that sounded interesting.  My wife and I were walking towards the office when suddenly, two young men ran past us, full steam ahead.

When we got to the Year Up lobby, there they were, huffing and puffing.  I asked them: “Why were you running?”  And one of them said, “Well, we’re running to class.  We don’t want to be late.” I was astounded.  These gentlemen were running to learn.  When Gerald walked in to greet us, I immediately told him: “Whatever you’re selling, I’m buying.”

Since that fateful meeting, I helped launch a new Year Up campus in Providence, Rhode Island; I’ve hosted multiple Year Up interns and hired several Year Up graduates at my company, Providence Equity Partners; I’ve served as the Chair of Year Up’s National Board of Directors; and I’ve donated millions to the organization.

As a white man born in a middle-class environment with the opportunity to attend great schools and universities, I know how lucky I am to have had a helping hand every step of the way.  For thousands of young people, ages 18-26, each year, Year Up is that helping hand.

The Year Up program itself is fairly straightforward.  In its one-year core model, students spend the first six months learning in-demand technical and professional skills, followed by a six-month internship at a corporate partner firm.  Companies invest in Year Up for each intern they host (covering more than half of Year Up’s operating costs) and in exchange get access to a steady pipeline of superb talent.

Throughout the year, students earn a financial stipend (with points — and dollars — docked for behavior that could get them in trouble at work like, you guessed it, being late) as well as college credits for their coursework.  They have access to robust wrap-around services, including on-staff social workers who can help them apply for health insurance, secure childcare, find transportation, and address other obstacles.  Each student also has a dedicated coach and a learning community of peers who provide a strong, lifelong support network.

Simple, right?  But making it work, year over year and in a growing number of markets, requires a truly exceptional leadership team at both the national and local level, coordinating with companies to make sure Year Up’s training matches their hiring needs and coordinating with students to make sure they have everything they need to succeed.

And they do succeed, consistently and in amazing ways.  Earlier this year, the research firm Abt Associates published a study looking at Year Up’s impact on earnings four years post-program.  Funded by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) evaluation of Year Up was a randomized-control trial.

The gold standard of research.  In this study, 2,544 young adults, who all met the admissions criteria for Year Up, were randomly assigned to either participate in the program or to serve as the control group, in which case they were directed to other community resources and could not join Year Up.

The results were the most impressive earnings impacts of any workforce development program to date.  Year Up participants earned, on average, $8,000 more per year — a 30-40% increase — than members of the control group in the four years after they attended Year Up.  (A follow-up study will look at even longer-term impacts on earnings in the seven years post-program.)  Now, these are the results for all the young adults assigned to the Year Up group.  Year Up graduates experience even higher wage gains.

In the second half of 2019 and throughout 2020, despite the ongoing ravages of the pandemic, 80% of Year Up alumni were employed within four months of completing the program, earning an average starting salary of $44,000 per year.  Before Year Up, most were working part-time in minimum-wage roles, if they were working at all.

The PACE study also did a cost-benefit analysis of Year Up and confirmed what I have always known: if Year Up was a stock, everyone would want in on it.  The researchers determined that for every $1.00 put into Year Up, society gets back $1.66.  And this was a conservative estimate that assumed companies only get a 50% return on what they pay to sponsor Year Up interns (measuring actual returns to employers was beyond the scope of the study.

So researchers chose a 50% return based on interviews with executives, who cited both financial and social motives for partnering with Year Up).  Now, I’m pretty sure corporate America would not partner with Year Up unless it was clearly good for business.  Year Up interns become Year Up graduates, and Year Up graduates increase retention, engagement, and diversity.

Working with Year Up also helps show customers and investors how companies are working towards advancing economic and racial justice.  That’s why companies like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Facebook and Salesforce are taking on hundreds of interns each year — because it is a great deal and truly a win-win for all.

The challenge now is taking something that works and making it accessible to millions more individuals around the country.  Scaling is not easy, and I have direct experience with scaling because at Providence Equity Partners, I helped grow the firm from $171 million in assets under management to over $50 billion.  Scaling requires figuring out what is essential and where you can adapt and innovate.  For Year Up, it means figuring out how to impact the economy more broadly and really move the needle on economic mobility by fixing the fragmented talent marketplace.

It means evolving the delivery model and piloting different approaches to see what makes sense, including more technology-enabled solutions and shorter training for those who aren’t able to commit to a full-time, year-long program.

It’s not just about making sure a young adult has the skills and connections to land a great job — that is only the first step.  The end goal?  An integrated ecosystem that quickly connects the right talent with the right employment opportunities.  For example, Year Up is now partnering with local training providers to provide “last-mile” training that will significantly increase the number of young adults entering the job market set up for long-term career success.

Year Up also created a talent placement firm — Year Up Professional Resources (YUPRO) — to connect Year Up graduates and other non-traditional talent with roles across the country that provide social, economic, and career mobility.  At the same time, Year Up is committed to supporting companies in creating more inclusive employment practices, recognizing that there are two sides to the problem — supply and demand.

To increase the demand for non-traditional talent, Year Up’s advisory services branch, Grads of Life, partners with leading corporations to assess their current talent practices, provide guidance and services like frontline manager training, set actionable goals, and educate employers more broadly on how to improve their hiring, retention, and promotion strategies.

Year Up’s work to pave the way for an inclusive, integrated talent ecosystem is inspiring — but no single organization can fix a broken marketplace on its own.  Companies and the federal government need to do their part to address the broader systemic issues that prevent millions of young people from reaching their full potential.

On the corporate side, the biggest step companies can take is to review their job descriptions and see if they’re asking for four-year college degrees when a shorter training program could provide the necessary skills.  By embracing demonstrated skills over credentials, we can create a society of life-long, adaptive learners and provide opportunities to many more people of color — at least six million Black workers without four-year degrees already have the skills to move into higher-wage roles today.

Employers also need to ensure inclusive promotion practices so that Black Americans and other under-represented employees can progress in the company, leading to greater diversity at higher levels.  And finally, CEOs need to do more than push for diversity from the top — middle and frontline managers have to be invested in making it work, and should be held accountable for lack of progress in the recruiting, retention and advancement of diverse talent.

In terms of the federal government, the funding model needs to be updated.  The government currently spends billions of dollars on workforce programs with very little evidence of real, lasting impact.  At the same time, federal grants have often required incredibly specific evaluation protocols that come at a very high administrative cost — potentially as much as or more than the grant itself.  The government should focus on outcomes and funding proven approaches like Year Up.  When a Year Up graduate becomes a taxpayer, then the government should reward success.

The need for programs like Year Up will be greater than ever post-pandemic as more young people without degrees look for jobs paying family-sustaining wages.  Beyond addressing unnecessary degree requirements, companies should establish talent pipelines from non-university sources (nonprofits, community colleges and other local organizations) to sustain inclusive hiring practices.

Policy leaders and philanthropists should take a hard look at what is being funded and why — are your current grantees producing great outcomes?  As we work to ensure a more just economic recovery, business leaders, policy leaders and philanthropists all have an important role to play, and can all have a huge impact on young people, their families, and their communities.

Paul Salem is Chairman of the National Board of Directors of Year Up and has served on the board of Year Up for over 17 years. Mr. Salem is the Chairman of MGM

Source: A Hand Up, Not A Hand Out! To Address Racial And Economic Injustice, Bridge The Skills Gap

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Here’s How To Implement a Skills First Approach To Workforce Development

The American workforce is on the cusp of massive disruption, with 40 percent of employees actively looking to change jobs in what economists are calling “The Great Resignation.” This presents business leaders with two unique dilemmas: first, how to manage churn within their own organizations; and second, how to effectively hire new talent, while developing their existing workforce.

The traditional methods of matching people to work are not up to the task. Many hiring practices are outdated and inefficient, with layers of bureaucracy, lots of administration, and old assumptions about who is qualified to take on what challenges. At the same time, legacy workforce development efforts are not equipped to meet the new level of need. As a result, businesses are missing out on potential talent, and people are missing out on jobs or experiences that would make a powerful difference in their lives.

By the end of 2020, 80 percent of U.S. employers had difficulty filling openings because of current skills gaps. The World Economic Forum estimates that 42 percent of jobs will require different skills in the next three years, and over 1 billion workers will need reskilling by 2030. Replacing talent – or preventing its loss – is the number one challenge many organizations are facing in the near term. Underlying that challenge is a bigger problem: the lack of an adaptable, engaged workforce with the skills needed for a changing world. This presents a serious risk to the whole population in a rapidly changing, complex world.

For both businesses and workers, agility – the ability to adapt and respond quickly to whatever comes next – is essential. Skills-first strategy is a promising, emerging trend aimed at increasing agility. A skills-first approach requires rethinking the premise of talent and turning the traditional talent model on its head. Demonstrated skills are valued over job histories and degrees. Rich, varied career journeys are prioritized over unilateral, pre-defined paths. And rewards and recognition are influenced by skills and contributions, not just job level, tenure or location.

There is no quick and easy way to make the move to a skills-first strategy. But, once you take a skills-first perspective, the implications are far reaching, touching everything from recruiting and development to learning and rewards. As the Chief Learning Officer at Workday, I’m finding myself “unlearning” many of my assumptions. But I’m also inspired by this new approach, which opens up new avenues for solving today’s business challenges.

Whether you’re a company leader or in an organizational talent role, here’s how you can get started with a skills-first talent strategy:

  • Establish a unified skills language

Most organizations use confused and inconsistent terminology around skills. This makes it difficult for employers to identify which workers have the skills needed to fill open roles, and workers struggle to understand which skills they should develop to advance their careers.We suggest simplifying and streamlining so that everyone is on the same page. For example, at Workday, we are moving to a three-part shared language around skills: Core Skills, Job Skills, and Unique Skills. In other words: What is needed to be successful at this company? What is needed to do this job? What else does an employee (or potential employee, contractor, or freelancer) have to offer?

  • Consider your company culture

What aspects or attributes of your company culture support the shift to skills first? What might get in the way? What is required to operate with a skills-first strategy across the enterprise? You will need to build on structures and behaviors that foster connections across silos, candid communication and conversation, and psychological safety. These will help you to empower workers as you determine which skills are needed to accomplish business strategy and goals, identify who has those skills, and fill in gaps by moving, developing, or bringing in new people.

  • Leverage innovative technology

With products that are seamlessly connected, technology can drive key business outcomes: getting work done, reskilling and upskilling, driving performance, and creating opportunities for career growth. For example, Workday can match an employee’s skills to the skills required for an internal job or gig available in Workday Talent Marketplace. We can also make personalized skill learning recommendations in Career Hub, a centralized space where employees can use tools and resources to develop in their careers.

Skills are the fundamental currency of the changing world as we prepare for the future of work. A skills-first approach opens the door to exciting, dynamic careers for current and future employees, which further promotes ongoing learning and engagement – just what organizations need to ensure they attract and keep the right talent.

By Chris Ernst

Source: Here’s how to implement a skills-first approach to workforce development – CEO Magazine North America

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