Tech Talk | The drive for a digital skills taxonomy

Jade Emmons

Unicorns live and work alongside us. They build our computers, develop artificial intelligence (AI) and are ushering in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. These ‘unicorns’ are so named because of the dearth of digital skills that they become known for. Their skills are in critically short supply, with 756,000 tech jobs expected to remain unfilled in Europe by 2020.

The following piece describes Atos’ experience in using a digital skills taxonomy to combat the skills shortage. In doing so, the company expects its skills utilisation to improve by 10% and time-to-hire reduced to minutes. On one occasion, a hard-to-find Citrix expert was found through Adepto and the taxonomy to fulfil an urgent demand within new business.

Read on to discover more.

The scale of the skills gap

The digital skills gap affects all industries and will only grow as more organisations seek to get ahead in Industry 4.0. Without access to the right skills, business leaders’ plans cannot go ahead. Consider this: the gap will cost the UK £141 billion in lost GDP growth – simply because strategies cannot go ahead.

Differing solutions

To combat the skills shortage, organisations are turning to many avenues. There is STEM education in schools, where businesses are playing the long game. Others are turning to reskilling and upskilling programmes and investing in their existing workforce. For short-term shortfalls, contractors and freelancers offer a potential plug. 

Plus there are pricier routes, like offering huge pay packages to the unicorns that you really want to net. 77% of organisations are also partnering with MSPs to hire the necessary talent and alter their processes to meet consumer demand. Some MSPs can cover some of the shortfalls using their technology and talent networks. A hybrid approach of short-term talent for some critical tasks whilst upskilling internal teams for the long term.

A way to track all talent and skills

That’s a lot of high-value talent that’s being engaged in many different ways. Organisations, therefore, need a way to track all types of talent, their skills, availability and to retain them. These individuals are invaluable and many competitors will be jostling for their skills. To keep them engaged, organisations must offer them relevant and interesting opportunities that move them from project-to-project, task-to-task. 

That’s where a digital skills taxonomy comes in. It’s a way of tracking and quantifying digital skills. When you have all available digital skills in your organisation in one easy-to-use system, the utilisation of those skills improve. Internal skills gaps are plugged. People are put on work that matters to them, that’s aligned with their interests and those unicorns will be more likely to stick around.

A skills taxonomy suited to digital skills

Plus, it’s relatively simple to build a digital skills taxonomy compared to, say, soft skills. Many digital skills are ‘hard’ skills – like coding in Python or understanding how to use a piece of software. Importantly, it can be tested and those skills validated. This is critical because you can’t really tell from a CV or interview if someone is really capable of building a machine learning algorithm or whether they’re exaggerating their abilities.

How a digital skills taxonomy helps

A digital skills taxonomy gives structure to your organisation’s skills. There’ll be a common format for everyone to refer back to. Couple this with a Total Talent system like Adepto and you’ll build a distinct up-to-date picture of all the skills and capabilities in your organisation. 

It’ll become more urgent as new jobs emerge – ones we don’t even know about yet. 133 million new roles will be created in Industry 4.0 by 2022. Many of them will require strong programming and app development skills. Having a digital skills taxonomy in place now will help with future planning. Your future skills gaps are easier to spot when you know the current state of affairs. 

Furthermore, skills requirements will rapidly change. Your workers are going to have to re-train time and time again. Some will be shifted into new positions because of automation. All of this needs to be tracked. They’ll need help in developing new skills, knowing what to develop in the first place. A digital skills taxonomy gives visibility over all of this. It’ll be the go-to guide for your current and future digital skills strategy – and that of each individual worker.

A digital skills taxonomy in action

This is something that tech and consulting firm Atos realised as part of a wider digital transformation programme. It needed to prepare for sudden upturns in business by developing greater agility into its workforce. To do this, it needed to better leverage its existing talent and build a network of trusted non-permanent talent.

Through Adepto, Atos launched a platform with custom branding to reflect its employer brand. Crucially, to reflect the specialisms of its workforce, a custom digital skills taxonomy was produced. This drilled down into the detail of each worker’s skills, enabling hiring managers to quickly find the right talent for highly specialised work. For example, hiring managers can find an expert in Drupal from across Atos’ internal and external talent pool within hours – as opposed to weeks before. 

This platform was launched both internally and externally to attract all types of worker, diversifying Atos’ available talent resource. The number of candidates is expected to rise by 10,000 employees with the utilisation of talent improving by 10%.

On one occasion, Atos reported finding a highly-specialised and hard-to-find Citrix expert to fulfil a sudden demand within new business. The hiring manager used Adepto’s search function and found a suitable individual within minutes. Making it seamless for individuals to find work and engage with Atos – and improving time-to-hire for hiring managers and more effective use of resources.

Ready to start the discussion about how you can use Adepto to embrace the future of work?