How to Move to Skills-Based Employee Development

Current State

Having the right talent with the right skills in the right place at the right time is the key to responding to changes in the business. Yet companies still struggle to mobilize rapidly and respond with agility. This gap is only worsening as the fundamental nature of work continues to shift while organizations struggle to keep up with digital skills. This challenge is universal and industry-agnostic.


This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that new jobs are most often requiring highly technical skills while existing roles are being required to add more collaborative human skills — potentially splitting the attention of the learning organization.


Barriers to career development are clear and plentiful. Skills-based career paths have yet to be developed, which leads to employees believing there is no path for them. Resource constraints contribute to the notion that career development opportunities are invisible to the workforce. Few organizations use assessments to understand skills and potential for growth.

The new skills that organizations think they need deserve new thinking about how to design and deliver learning. Even if you hire employees from the outside who appear to have the skills you seek, they will still need further development. And you will always need to develop new skills internally for your existing workforce.

Critical Questions

  • What is the current state of our skills-based approach to development?
  • How can we leverage generative AI to support our efforts to better define skills and roles?
  • How can we embrace advanced learning modalities to support this effort?
  • What investments or changes should be made to ensure we are effectively developing new skills and adequately measuring whether employees can demonstrate their skills and can meet the requirements of the new or existing roles?

Brandon Hall GroupPOV

Create and Manage to a Skills Taxonomy

A robust skills framework is the cornerstone for building skills intelligence capabilities. In our model, it is a foundational layer to the concept of skills intelligence, underpinning the whole strategy. It provides a standardized taxonomy of all the strategic skills required for the organization’s business objectives, both current and future-looking, and enables creation of a consistent skills language across the enterprise. With this structure in place, an employer can accurately map proficiency levels across the workforce for each skill. Gaps become visible. The skills framework also enables optimizing other talent processes from recruiting to learning to succession planning by tying them directly to business-aligned skills needs. A dynamic skills library can even empower employees to drive their own development and career mobility by seeing which skills are valued and sought-after.

Leverage Data and Analytics

Data and analytics are at the center of the skills intelligence model because they provide realtime visibility into the current and future skills supply and demand within an organization. To enable skills intelligence, employers must bring together diverse talent data sources like learning management systems, HR information systems, and performance management platforms into a central skills database. This provides a single source of truth.

Robust analytics can then extract insights into workforce skills proficiencies, gaps and future needs. Care must be taken to ensure consistent data taxonomy, integrity and governance across systems. However, many learning and talent organizations lack people with the necessary data and analytics skills; improvement is high on most employers’ priority lists.

Invest in Skill Mapping

Skills mapping creates a comprehensive taxonomy of the capabilities required for an organization’s current and future business objectives and is central to establishing a strategic skills framework. This enables systematically assessing the workforce’s current proficiency across each mapped skill to identify precise gaps. The skills taxonomy also allows for optimizing talent processes like recruiting, development and succession planning by tying them directly to the organization’s priority skills. Ongoing validation ensures the skills framework evolves along with business strategy.

Improve Your Approach to Skills Assessment

Organizations can only manage what they measure, so it is important to effectively assess and measure skills. The accuracy and validity of skills-related data determine the quality of the skills intelligence and support the overall transformation to a skills-based organization. Existing approaches to skills measurement often lack assessment of skills proficiency before training and focus only on knowledge transfer after training. Often, the level of skills application is also overlooked. While there has been some progress over the past two years, according to Brandon Hall Groupresearch, only about one-quarter of organizations believe they are proficient.

AI-powered tools can automate the skills assessment process by analyzing data from various sources, including resumes, job applications, performance evaluations and online profiles. For power skills, immersive learning methods can assess employees’ ability to apply power skills. The technology simulates workplace scenarios and assesses how proficient the learner is in each skill.




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Matt Pittman



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Matt Pittman

Matt Pittman brings nearly 30 years of experience developing people and teams in a variety of settings and organizations. As an HR Practitioner, he has sat in nearly every seat including Learning and Leadership Development, Talent Management and Succession Planning, Talent Acquisition and as a Human Resources Business Partner. A significant part of those roles involved building out functions in organizations and driving large scale change efforts. As a Principal Analyst, Matt leverages this in-depth experience and expertise to provide clients and providers with breakthrough insights and ideas to drive their business forward.

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