Address your organization’s talent needs with a skilling hub

Rapid global change is having a profound impact on the skills required across sectors. McKinsey research has found that 40 percent of the European workforce alone may need to acquire new skills by 2030. Simultaneously, skilled talent is scarce and heavily sought. In response, many organizations have begun the critical effort of identifying their large skill gaps and development opportunities.

A holistic workforce transformation strategy includes four action fields: 1. reskilling, 2. redeployment, 3. responsible outplacement, and 4. hiring. All of these elements are interlinked: More successful reskilling and redeployment of existing employees drives less outplacement and external hiring.

Organizations are in various stages of addressing their talent needs by managing shifts in required skills. Regardless, applying some structure to this process through a skilling hub can increase the speed, scale, and likelihood of transformation success.

Skilling hub core elements

The core elements of a skilling hub include:

  • A thorough selection process for reskilling and redeployment candidates. High potentials should be prioritized with this development opportunity, especially in the set-up phase of a skilling hub for a pilot project; poor-performing candidates may undermine the trust of the receiving business unit and put the effort at risk.

    Thorough selection, without causing too much stir in the rest of the workforce, can be accomplished through manager involvement together with identifying candidates who show a general eagerness to learn (e.g., active participation in trainings in the past year).

    Ideally, conduct interviews with pre-selected candidates and choose those with a personal interest in their future skill profile (e.g., hardware engineers who code in their personal time) for the pilot. When possible, have a match with a new position already in place.

  • Transparent, standardized, but modular learning journeys. Start with just a handful of learning journeys from an existing skill profile to a future one (e.g., hardware to software engineer [exhibit 1]).

    Consider on-the-job vs. off-the-job reskilling, depending on the desired goal: on-the-job reskilling to acquire new skills while remaining productive in a current role (e.g., if a concrete job offer is not yet available), or off-the-job reskilling for rapid skill development (e.g., if a concrete job offer is on the table).

    Seek external support from learning experts and partnerships (e.g., implement strategic partnerships with local universities to design learning journeys and collaborate with emerging education providers to capture new skills).

    A chart titled “Sample redeployment incentive by party.”

  • Re-deployment support with clear rules and incentives for all involved parties. Establish a clear framework outlining how candidates change roles—including who will fund reskilling, where full-time equivalent counts lie, any potential candidate trial periods, etc.—and redeployment incentives for all parties (exhibit 2).

    Establish or adapt an internal platform that aligns with reskilling needs to educate employees about opportunities (e.g., an in-person “trade fair” where candidates can get more detailed information about the new working environment).

    Also, a great way to support re-deployment is to interlink it with the performance management system, reward employees, and set incentives for reskilling in high-impact areas.

    A chart titled “Sample learning journey: From hardware engineer (with first software skills/software affinity) to software engineer”

Key success factors

To build up a successful skilling hub, organizations should ensure that they:

  1. Define at least 2-3 new skills or 2-3 job roles with standardized learning journeys.
  2. Identify "high potentials," for instance, through performance indicators or performance management systems.
  3. Include learning journeys for candidates with or without an existing job offer.
  4. Create clear rules and incentive structures for business units to transfer staff into the skilling hub and subsequently to other business units, e.g., by creating a financial equalization system between business units.
  5. Assign coaches that have a formal university degree and many years of professional expertise to help job changers excel in their new role.

Implementing a skilling hub to accelerate the transformation of employees’ skills can enable organizations to reskill talent in 2-12 months—building or hyper scaling a new business unit in short order. It’s among the most powerful tools, especially for European organizations, to transform a workforce for the future.

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