The Skills Landscape

Key Insights
We interviewed business leaders and L&D leaders from a range of industries to get a view of the skills landscape. Here is what they told us.
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We live in Challenging Times
This report and its research were conducted in the midst of the Global Crisis that is the COVID-19 Pandemic. A 1-in-100 year event. 

Businesses have had to fundamentally adapt how they operate, and we have seen Digital Transformations speed up by a factor of 30.

Yet, our adaptability and resilience as Humans has been proven in the face of this great test. There is still some way to go, and untold damage has been caused.
What business leaders say
We interviewed 25 business leaders across a wide range of industries to gain an understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by businesses and their talent, and what they think The Skills of Tomorrow are.

The following are the questions we posed, and the answers we received.
We asked
What are the main challenges for your business if you look at the next 12-24 months?
Digital Transformation
44%
Impact of COVID-19
20%
Remote Working
20%
Customer-Centricity
16%
Digital Skills
12%

Key Findings

It is no surprise that over the next 12-24 months, businesses are looking ahead at how to grapple with their Digital Transformation, which in turn is linked to the impact of COVID-19, the second ranked topic, with 20% of responses, and Remote Working, also at 20%.

What is interesting is that in the next 12-24 months, Digital Transformation garners over twice as much importance to businesses as the Impact of COVID-19 with 44% vs. 20% of leaders saying this is the main challenge. 

Customer Centricity is also vital, as we reimagine how brands and customers engage. While Digital Skills, unsurprisingly, also feature in the top 5 challenges.
I find this a bit challenging to answer because it depends which department we are talking about. I mean, we cover the whole value chain. So we have factories, and we have marketing, and sales and R&D, and I think this is why the topic of digital transformation becomes challenging when we talk about it internally. It's like this huge elephant and you know you have to eat the whole animal, but you don't really know where to start.
Co-Founder and Head of Orkla Digital Academy
We asked
Specifically, what are the main challenges in regards to people/talent?
Digital Skills
32%
Remote Working
32%
Data Skills
24%
Talent Acquisition
20%
Agile
20%

Key Findings

The findings show that Human Capital is vital to Digital Transformation. The joint top challenge for talent relates to digital skills, with remote working sharing the top place.

Data skills are increasingly important due to the vast amounts of data being collected through digital tools and technology. Digital skills and data skills go hand-in-hand. It is little surprise then, that in a digital world, Agile is featured. Hailing from Tech and Software companies, this rapid, iterative approach to work has proved hugely powerful.

Adding to the importance of human capital is the challenge related to talent acquisition. Nurturing the right skills and talent are the foundation of any digital transformation, and as the skills gap grows, finding talent becomes a greater challenge.
I truly believe that we need to continue to build our industry on strong core knowledge. Core knowledge like molecular genetics. It’s those core capabilities (tech & biology) that are needed in order to excel  in science, which our industry is based on. 
General Manager at Roche Diagnostics (Switzerland) Ltd.
We asked
If you look at your organisation’s capabilities and the skills of the employees, what are the main strengths?
Customer-Centricity
24%
Culture
16%
Management
16%
Growth Mindset
12%
Data Skills
12%

Key Findings

When we asked about strengths we found there was a greater variance in answers than with other questions, perhaps reflecting that weaknesses may be more evident than strengths. Or that the accelerated rate of change has upended traditional strengths. 

Customer centricity came out on top, with 24% of responses. While Culture was also seen to be a strength, reflecting that for human capital, culture is an important binding factor, enabling team success during these challenging, remote working times. Traditional strengths like management were also reflected, as joint top second, with 16% of responses.

Finally we see the importance of Data Skills and a Growth Mindset - this belief that abilities can be developed through hard work and learning. Vital for addressing skills gaps and the exponential pace of change.
This is the transformation that we're going through now. It’s about telling our story and have people believing in that story and adjusting to the new future and the new mindset.  People like to work as they used to do. And that's how we humans are, insofar as I think that culture is very important. How we Invest in our people and make sure that we develop our people and make sure that we all go in the same direction.
Head of Banking Marketing & Communications at Nordea
We asked
Where are the main opportunities for improvement?
Digital Skills
40%
Data Skills
40%
Agile
28%
Customer Centricity
28%
Growth Mindset
20%

Key Findings

In comparison to the question about strengths, when asked about opportunities for improvement there is a greater correlation within the answers. With Digital Skills and Data Skills coming out joint top. Highlighting that people and their skills are the foundation for tools and tech. 

Agile came out in second place, with 28%, reflecting the need to work in a more iterative, digital approach to delivering outcomes.

Customer centricity remains a key area of improvement despite also emerging as a strength, reflecting that different industries and businesses are at different stages in their customer-centric efforts.
Engineering has traditionally been one of our differentiators. And now we are putting more focus on digital skills. These are now becoming more and more important, because now we have something concrete. Whereas before I think digital was just this concept. But now when we actually have digital products and solutions as a business, it's so important. So, we are working really hard at the moment on these.
Head of Learning & Development at EMEA - KONE
We asked
And when you look at the next 2-3 years, which skills do you think are most important?
Data Skills
44%
Digital Skills
40%
Growth Mindset
28%
Data Analytics
28%
Agile
20%

Key Findings

When asked about the skills of tomorrow, leaders told us that Data Skills are king - coupled with Data Analytics in fourth place we see that data will be a vital part of navigating the world of tomorrow.

Digital skills rank in second place, with a Growth Mindset featuring highly as leaders recognise that the ability to learn, adapt and tackle challenges will be a key skill in our rapidly changing world. 

Agile rounds off the top 5 skills mentioned by business and leaders for the Skills of Tomorrow. 
We crunch data. We extract insights. And then we give them to the business. We're describing the performance and what's going on with the data. And we tell our stakeholders, this is what's happening: conversion rate is going down in cart to checkout. And then we can extract some insight, oh, maybe that's due to that. Very much tactical. The direction I see happening is that we'll be so good at visualising and showing the numbers, that at some point, it will be automated. It will be available directly for the stakeholders on a dashboard, all the data will be already described, automatically.
Director, Global Digital Analytics at Adidas
We asked
How do you assess the skills of your team?
HR Data
20%
None
20%
Consultancy Advice
16%
Development Plan
12%
Subjective Assessment
12%

Key Findings

When asked about how they measure skills, leaders told us that HR Data was the joint top method, alongside no measurement at all. 

1 in 5 leaders are not measuring the skills capabilities of their teams.
 
While nearly  1 in 6  are using consultancy advice to tell them the skills of their teams. 

While some leaders, encouragingly, use a development plan. Many leave it to subjective assessment to evaluate capabilities in their workforce.  Overall, the picture for measuring skills is not an encouraging one, and certainly  measuring skills is the best starting point for improving them.

It’s a very difficult process.  That’s the first thing and I’m not sure if we have properly done it yet. But as part of our new strategy process, measuring skills would be something to keep in mind to understand the different needs for the organisation. We need to know from a strategic perspective what key skills are needed? And do we have those skills in the organisation, and where are they?
General Manager at Roche Diagnostics (Switzerland) Ltd.

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