Aligning the talent to meet demand

It is the end of talented times, it is the beginning of talented people, and it is the era of replacing jobs with skills

It is perhaps Deloitte that best framed the current skills landscape in its recent analysis entitled ‘Navigating the end of jobs’. This is not a post-apocalyptic warning that all humans will be without work, but rather a reframing of how skilled people approach their roles and careers. And how, of course, organisations approach skills and employee development. It is an era, says Mandla Mbonambi, CEO of Africonology, of agility, autonomy and accessibility, where talented people with expertise and experience are the keys that unlock the doors of sustainable business and long-term growth.

“However,” he warns. “We are still not quite there yet. Companies are still not fully cognisant of the value that they will get from reskilling or upskilling their people, many are too focused on fighting for high-end, elusive talent in an increasingly competitive and expensive marketplace. Right now, there is far more value in a skills-based approach to work, projects and outsourcing.”

This is reinforced by the Deloitte survey. It found that 57% of organisations taking a skills-based approach were more agile, 98% were more likely to retain top performers, and 107% were more likely to place talent more effectively. Sentiments echoed in a McKinsey analysis that underscored the value of this approach in overcoming the skills shortage challenges that have plagued the business landscape since 2020. McKinsey said that companies have recognised that ‘skills-based practices are a powerful solution to challenges that have intensified since the pandemic and a smart route for those struggling to find candidates for roles that have remained open for a while.

“In addition to filling important gaps in the business and bypassing the challenges that have traditionally limited the business when it comes to finding talent, this approach allows for the business to secure skills that are relevant,” says Mbonambi. “This person may not have a degree or have gone to university, but they happen to be remarkable with DevOps or AI or security. That makes them invaluable in today’s skills economy.”

Again with Deloitte, in another analysis of workplace trends, the company found that companies are becoming more reliant on non-traditional workers for skills and roles that are considered high value and of strategic importance. It is a forward-thinking approach that puts value on a person’s ability to learn, grow and engage in continuous professional skills development rather than on their status.

“What this means is that companies need to shift their focus, especially companies still stuck in traditional ways of working and doing business, if they want to capture and hold the right talent,” says Mbonambi. “When organisations are determined to return to the rigid structures of the pre-pandemic workplace, they will likely lose people who want more autonomy and flexibility. The same premise applies to outsourced talent management and working with third-party service providers. Hiring should be talent-based, not paper-based.”

The same principle applies to collaborating with a third-party company that specialises in high-end DevOps or security. Is it one that has taken a skills-based approach to the development of its talent? This is key because as operating models go, this  one ensures the best people are working on your projects because the company has attracted a wide range of people who fill the roles with expertise and talent. And when it comes to DevOps, this is a welcome relief for companies that are facing high costs (in-house DevOps can be expensive) and slow transformation journeys thanks to limited skills and DevOps complexity.

“Attracting and finding skilled people should be a part of a DevOps company’s skill set,” concludes Mbonambi. “If the organisation isn’t capturing the attention of well-rounded and skilled individuals, then it isn’t going to meet your DevOps needs. So, perhaps the biggest skills trend for 2023 isn’t the type of skills that are needed, but rather how companies nurture and capture those skilled individuals.”

Moving into a year fractured by politics, economics and complicated market conditions, it’s time to ditch the traditional and hard-bitten approaches to talent and instead embrace the potential of skills-based service delivery within an organisation that puts expertise ahead of paper.

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