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The Future of Work with a Skills Focused Strategy

Updated: Mar 7, 2021

There is real pressure now to change the business view – of How learning works – for too long its been the premise that push learning from the LMS will suffice and all the business needs to achieve. Too much is changing, too fast, to retain that as a perspective.

“The times are not just changing - The times have changed – moved on.”

The business focus needs to cover a vast amount of ground, in an ever-changing world – ‘Speed to Output’ is the real Key – output of products, new designs, new thinking, new timelines for re-skilling or adding new Skills. These all occupy the same level of urgency – NOW!

There is a spectacular shift to a place beyond just learning, to the acquisition of Skills. New capabilities to meet the new business demands.

Core Skills Transitional Skills or Up-Skilling

It's just not a viable plan to downsize any part of the business, its revenue contribution, simply because it lacks in the skills to maintain and meet demand and growth targets. Time to fix that Gap.

Skills can be viewed in many ways To Achieve specific goals:

· Internal Mobility

· Transferability of Skills

· News Skills to take advantage of new technologies

· Future Skills – to build and run new technology solutions – AI, ML, Data Science

· Re-skilling

· Up-skilling

Some or all of these could already be 'on-your-radar' – the reality is, it nearly always boils down to the same reality – Do You have the skills your business needs?

So, lets pause – OK, it’s all about Skills. However. What is Driving all this change?
Many answer, “it’s the Information Economy.”

I agree, I also think, that needs a few dots joined to make it clear. Because a few things merge in my view.

Firstly, Information has changed. Information has moved from a State of:

Scarce and Controlled


Abundant and Available

That creates is new pathways for learners to choose what and when they learn. “To choose what Skills they develop, against what skills they have now – closing their personal skills gap”.

The drive of Technology (Digitisation) applied to that information in its state of ‘Abundance and Availability’ – Driven further & faster with AI and Machine Learning, has created the need to change rapidly. A need to prepare to meet new markets in new ways to stay relevant.

Information drives knowledge to all, knowledge to test and challenge the known, explore the unknown, and define new ways to solve problems and challenges.

The new rules seem to have become - 'The Disruption of Self'. Disruption of the Business Strategy, Products and Services - has-to-happen - or risk being Disrupted.

So, for our employees and learners. That in many ways makes ‘Skills the Currency’ to remain relevant in the Workplace Economy. To retain the capacity to design and define their own value based workplace future. The business challenge, is to tap into 'this learning flow'.

The flow that is moving ever quicker, as new things to learn, begin driving the desire to learn more. That desire will need to “meet with the right place to work, to exercise those new found skills.”

“The Place - where Desire to Learn, Skills and the Business Need for Skills, all converge.”

The Immediacy, is based on freely available information converged with the rapid emergence of technologies like AI and Machine Learning into our daily lives. The cycle is only going to speed up with AI and ML – Accelerating Change.

More information – Drives More demand for new information – Information needs to be validated – Sourced from Multiple places and combined. Creating usable information driving business decisions.

A change then - To better data, fueling better business decisions. And so, the cycle proceeds….

This could for example lead you to re-thinking the organisation structure of a business.

Perhaps to a ‘Transitional business model’. With a Business Core and a Transitional Skills based workforce, this may become the new norm faster than we expect. If our workforce can now prove ‘work-from-home’ is entirely possible, and achieve productivity measurements without significant downside, in some cases significant upside has already been achieved. Then anyone living and working in the country or region on-line, could be the new skilled person your business needs.

For the Skilled, seeking roles this could potentially become ‘A Skills based ‘Tour of Duty’ which just could be a replacement for the gig-economy, which was originally outsourced tasks.

It may even change the entire notion of what an employee is.

Skills Taxonomy

If you’re in business, you quickly need specific and better understanding of the Skills you have now, the skills you will need next, and any ‘Skills Gaps’ left now or emerging. The Degreed Skills Quotient - the overall measurement that answers the single Question all CEO’s need answered:

“Do we have the Skills to win?”

The ‘Top down Competency Model’ for any role or business function no longer (or ever did) provide meaningful data to learners or the business, data on closing the skills gap or any data aligning skills with learning.

To achieve that:

It needs to a Bottom-up approach. Degreed Skills and Skills Quotient gives learners and the Business, absolute clarity of Skills, skill levels and skills gap for the learners and the business. Rolling-up skills up to a defined Role or Business Function with Skills so they can see what they have, what they need. It gives the Business clarity what they have, where they have skills in abundance where they have a shortfall to the Plan. *Check out David Blake – Founder of Degreed Skills Platform – presentation (link below) on the ‘Skills Quotient’.

What does this create? I think – “A brilliant Opportunity.”

Quite a few, if we are honest, potential improvements could rapidly emerge from a few different areas. As an example the opportunity for HR/L&D’ to get into business-critical thinking and paths – close to, or at the very center of Operations and Strategy of the Business. There is no doubt this may also mean up-skilling and new skills, but a new position of business relevance - close to the core of the business.

I think for instance that existing L&D processes will give way to supporting and assisting with Skills, Up-skilling and Re-skilling in-line with business planning. Curation for abundant content is a clear role – not a new task, but very much, an enhanced need where content for skills is sourced from multiple sites, internal systems (multiple LMS’s for example) or external content providers.. with the relevant Skills focus such as AI.

A business could potentially have real-time data to determine if they have the Skills, they need today to execute the plan. Much better, than the annual board review, looking backwards, that collectively say’s – No you didn’t, that’s why you missed your numbers.

Match the business Strategy – execution plan, to skills you have now – can you get it done?

Planning to change develop new areas for the business to succeed in new markets? What skills or transferable skills do we have what are the gaps – can we use Internal Mobility or re-skill, up-skill, even find new skills – if you can’t do this, best to re-examine the plan.

Some links that may add more information, thinking and data on Skills processes you can deploy:

Data and the Ability to measure skills is critical now, and will be critical to future business and success.


An HR / L&D strategy to Align Skills with Business Strategy and Planning

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John Driscoll


+61 (0)8 8311 3713

3/55 Gawler Place | South Australia | SA 5000

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