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Learning Curves
November 14, 2019

Soft Skills Dictate the Capabilities of Professional Development Services – Part 2

MHT Partners  | Education Investment Bank

As a continuum to our last blog, we will discuss how corporations can effectively acquire, retain, and refurbish talent in order to remain competitive and meet increasing technological consumer demands. The good news is that solutions are in plain sight. In fact, Infosys, a global leader in next-generation digital services and consulting, has delineated strategy to help corporations address the talent needs of today and prepare for those of the future.  Now how to best implement and execute these strategies?

Cast a Wider Net for New Hires. The battle for new hires continues. It is well known and undeniable that Ivy League and other elite campuses are important targets for recruiters. Harvard University, Caltech and Stanford University produce the most employable graduates, according to the 2018 Global University Employability Ranking.[1] However, the demand for these graduates is highly competitive, so expanding the net for potential recruits is a must. This strategy has proven to yield excellent employee bases for some of the top companies. For example, Unilever, a transnational consumer goods company used machine learning algorithms to select its target number of 800 graduates from a wide net of over two million applicants. As a result, they were able to uncover an immense amount of data on the types of employees ultimately hired, which was then analyzed over time to reveal the most important attributes of a successful new hire. Those characteristics included learning agility, resilience and personal mastery. That is not to say that graduates from these top institutions are not equally qualified. Instead, the data points to the fact that companies who pigeonhole themselves to a narrow pipeline of graduates may miss out on a slew of capable and eager talent who will diversify capabilities, support digital initiatives and allow companies to “create the graduates they need.”[2]

Reskill and Redeploy In-House Talent. The idea that corporations can create the graduates they need is no myth. However, this requires continuous efforts from corporations to reskill and redevelop their existing talent. Nearly every company depends on traditional approaches such as instructor-led classroom training, onboarding programs and coaching. This requires corporations to actively transition away from the traditional route of hiring and firing and instead, train acquired talent as often as possible in unconventional ways. The most competitive companies are now adding digital campuses, boot camps and hackathons (a design, sprint-like event in which computer programmers collaborate).2 Most importantly, they are investing in soft skills that complement technical skills and help create a lifelong learning culture that fuels success. Below is a depiction of the variety of skill development techniques leading organizations are utilizing:

Engage Temporary Workers and Gig Economy Strategically. In addition to casting a wider net and reskilling, leading companies are leveraging temporary workers to fill the talent gaps. Although it requires strong internal processes to contract, integrate, manage and release these workers, they are proven to be highly useful and provide a different set of skills depending on the industry. For example, according to Infosys, technology companies use temporary staff for technical skills in 95% of digital initiatives. Manufacturers utilize temporary employees for design capabilities on 70% of their projects. Life sciences companies contract externally for business and industry expertise for 48% of their digital transformations.2 In all, these employees can be a great value add, allowing companies to expedite initiatives while catering to the changing needs of the consumer.

Align Organizational Structure to Evolving Business Needs.  Organizations must move away from hierarchal and matrixed organizational structures to team-based, self-managing ones for agile project needs.2 This allows for soft skills to be at the forefront of digital transformation, as the ability to collaborate and adapt are of upmost importance in advancing technical prowess and meeting the continuously evolving consumer demand.

Corporate strategy needs to be in perfect alignment with digital initiatives. This includes the development of a lifelong learning culture, the installation of an organizational structure that promotes cooperation, and, most importantly, the casting of a hiring net that captures talent with the soft skills that will ultimately drive initiatives. When corporations embrace this fact, they will realize movement. But, when they execute, they will realize growth

To learn more about MHT Partners, a leading education investment bank, please contact Alex Hicks (ahicks@mhtpartners.com) or Rebecca Bell (rbell@mhtpartners.com).

[1] https://www.timeshighereducation.com/student/best-universities/best-universities-graduate-jobs-global-university-employability-ranking
[2] Infosys Talent Radar 2019 Report

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