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Skill me up, before you go. Go!

Everyone is talking about skills taxonomy as THE next big thing. Why? The Corona crisis has let many companies experience firsthand what is meant by a “rapidly changing environment” and “new framework conditions” to which organizations must be able to respond. Sure, the pandemic is an extreme situation, but in terms of work structures, it has only compressed and accelerated the change that has been in the works for many years. Digitization is not a byproduct of the pandemic, but a profound technological and cultural development of global proportions that is fundamentally changing the way we live and work. Companies that fail to recognize this and neglect to update their work structures and business models will fall by the wayside sooner or later. Most likely sooner. For this update, they need one thing above all: people and all their diverse skills.

This is where skills taxonomies come into play – the not-so-new big thing. For once we can say: Sorry, but: we’ve been doing this all along. Not out of precocious arrogance, but out of the sincere conviction that a good database is a powerful tool for the development of skills within a company. And what’s more, it is the key to the optimization of people’s skills and enabling them to present the best version of themselves in the company. And just as employees grow with and learn from each other, a smart skills taxonomy also grows and evolves.

Skills Taxo-what? – About skill trees and skill networks

Skills taxonomy. Or skills ontology. Or: tree. A skills tree with lots of roots and branches, that – similar to a real tree – continuously grows and expands. Provided that it receives enough nourishment. The skills are described on the individual branches and specified on the smaller twigs. Newer taxonomies, such as the one behind the Tandemploy SaaS, go one step further and rely on branched skill networks. Because in view of increasingly complex task areas and the resulting demands on skills and competencies, skill profiles can no longer be mapped in a linear and strictly hierarchical manner. Instead, cross-connections are forming. Individual detached skills, such as “steering a ship,” automatically come with a number of other skills, such as “working in a team” or “data analysis”. A smart taxonomy knows this. And it also knows which terms have the same meaning, for instance that “founder,” “CEO,” and “managing director” imply an identical skillset. None of this is new, but it is currently gaining huge importance, because during the pandemic, many companies have begun to realize that they hardly know the skills of their employees. In a recent study by the Chefsache initiative, 26 percent of respondents said that their skills were not systematically recorded within the company.

Reskilling and upskilling requires data

At the same time, companies had to and still have to access new skills during the pandemic. Those who know where to find these in their workforce can count themselves lucky. The figures from the above mentioned study suggest that this is not the case for most companies. Another reason why there is so much interest in data-driven HR work right now. It gives companies a continuous overview of existing and missing skills and thus a reliable basis for upskilling and reskilling initiatives within the workforce.

The requirements: the data must be consistently maintained. And preferably by those who are most affected by the changes and who should help shape them: the employees. They alone know what they are really capable of doing and what they really want to learn (and which information in the CV was really stretching the truth). By giving employees data sovereignty, companies create the best conditions for a smart skills taxonomy. For this to happen, however, employees need to understand why they should provide their data. The answer to this question can not just be theoretical, but must be reflected in tangible positive changes in people’s everyday work lives. Opportunities must open up for them, that they can directly trace back to the data they provided, such as an exciting project that they got because they entered their skills on a digital talent marketplace. Or a mentor who is preparing them for the next step in their career, which they only found by indicating their learning interests on the marketplace. Employees need a good reason to be open about their skills and learning needs, and companies need to provide that reason: a culture where everyone is welcome to contribute and develop according to his or her needs and skills. And the taxonomy? It learns and develops automatically.

From the digital talent marketplace to your own smart ontology

The best and most reliable taxonomy is a symbiosis of external databases, skills databases, sources from the web, like job boards or business networks, and internal skills data, that develops organically within the company. With our Talent Marketplace software, we specifically promote this very effective fusion. The focus is on the people in the respective company. They own the marketplace. They alone decide which information about skills and wishes they want to share or not. Accompanied and supported by a new type of manager, they decide how they want to work, communicate and learn with each other. This way, they develop their own powerful language, which finds its way into data-based HR development. In addition, we feed the database with descriptions from our other customers, in line with the motto “sharing is caring”. This creates a strong ontology (as a further development of a pure taxonomy), which makes exact matching of offers with people and people with people possible. The Tandemploy ontology is also capable of contextual matching. Employees from certain industries automatically get suggestions for skill descriptions that are common in the industry.  

So much more than “Tinder for business”

Tinder for business? – That comparison has always amused us. But it’s not quite correct. Because the Tandemploy SaaS is more authentic and certainly more appreciative and people-friendly than the dating app. It promotes an honest and authentic approach to one’s own skills – #nofilter. Every matching, regardless of whether it results in a concrete collaboration or not, is a win for everyone involved. Because colleagues may be learning about each other for the very first time, experiencing for the first time that they and their skills are being noticed, and for the first time putting out feelers into areas of the company they didn’t know existed.

Every newly uncovered skill in the company is an important step towards the future. Those who decide to start moving forward today and use ethical skill tech tools proactively can only win. 

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