Businesses looking to strengthen their human capital resources to meet the demands of the digital economy need to radically rethink how they recruit and develop their workers. They should concentrate less on trying to fill vacant jobs or searching for prospective employees with particular academic or professional qualifications. Instead, they should focus more on attracting candidates with the skills the organization needs – even if job-seekers come from different industries or lack some of the skills required.
These are some of the findings of the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Human Capital Report. The report makes compelling reading and offers valuable insight into how organizations can align their human capital requirements with the fast-changing digital economy. It examines how 130 countries around the world are developing and deploying their human capital. For the first time, the report’s authors have drawn on workforce information provided by digital employment exchanges and platform businesses. Contributors include LinkedIn, Upwork, Care.com in the U.S. and Chinese firm Didi Chuxing. They’ve combined this information with a wide range of public sector data to produce a fascinating analysis of global skills and work trends.
Important findings for businesses include:
- Skill-sets are often a more accurate and consistent indicator of a recruitment candidate’s ability than job titles or qualifications, and can frequently be transferred from one industry to another. While data analysts in the market research and energy industries might have little in common there are strong similarities, for example, in the skills required for this role in the financial services and consumer retail sectors.
- Focusing on skills broadens an employer’s pool of prospective recruits and increases development opportunities for its workers. For example, only 84 000 of LinkedIn’s 430 million members record their job title as “data scientist” or “data analyst.” However, 9.7 million LinkedIn members possess one or more of the primary or sub-skills required by data scientists and data analysts. Around 600 000 have at least five of these skills. A modest investment in training could equip many of them for the role of data scientist or data analyst.
- Businesses can no longer act as consumers of “ready-made” human capital. They have a social responsibility to work closely with educators and governments to develop education systems that keep pace with an increasingly digital and dynamic labor market. Greater in-house development and training are also needed to enable workers to adapt to constantly changing skills requirements.
- Digital work platforms are accelerating the growth of the global “on-demand” workforce. However, most workers currently using these digital services were freelancing before they joined. Digital talent platforms still account for a very small proportion of the “own account” work performed in major economies.
- High talent mobility is shifting key digital skills between countries. Australia, Chile and the United Arab Emirates, for example, are gaining technology skills while Greece, Canada and Finland are losing them.
The report is a must-read for human capital executives.