Putting Skills First: A Framework for Action | World Economic Forum and PwC

Talent Management

This new 30-page paper presents a framework for implementing a skills-first approach within an organization. A “skills-first” approach focuses on an individual’s skills and competencies rather than their degrees, job histories, or job titles when it comes to attracting, hiring, developing, and redeploying talent. The framework comprises two main areas: 1) Key enablers: These are tools and innovations that facilitate the adoption of skills-first practices more efficiently. Examples include fostering a skills-first culture, implementing related policies and mindsets, and adopting a common skills language. 2) Key actions: These are practical, evidence-informed steps to implement skills-first practices. This section is supported by case studies from Unilever (e.g., creating the foundations for establishing a successful skills-first culture), HSBC (e.g., mapping skills to work tasks using a new skills hub), and Siemens (e.g., linking organizational skills mapping to personalized learning opportunities), among others. One finding shows that it typically takes 24 to 36 months to achieve stakeholder buy-in, make necessary investments, and secure technology partners for a skills-first culture to take hold. However, focusing on the enablers can expedite this process. The insights also suggest that regardless of the skills taxonomy chosen by an organization, there are three essential qualities of a skills taxonomy: 1) dynamism (reflecting the rapidly changing labor market), 2) customizability (tailored to specific industries), and 3) granularity (providing detailed exploration of specific skills and skill adjacencies). Other ideas are discussed.