It’s a wakeup call for the planet — and recruiters and TA leaders are searching for candidates with the right skills to help bring the Earth from the brink of destruction for the sake of future generations.

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Are we ready for the Green Skills Revolution?

Contributors:

Veronika Bougioukli

IO Psychologist, Bryq

David Ingleson

Sector Managing Director, AMS

Caitlin McGregor

CEO, Plum

It’s a wakeup call for the planet — and recruiters and TA leaders are searching for candidates with the right skills to help bring the Earth from the brink of destruction for the sake of future generations. Here’s how your team can play a crucial role in a global existential crisis.

The alarm clock is ringing.

At the United Nations COP28 World Climate Action Summit that took place in Dubai in December, politicians, business leaders and scientists heard a stark warning from the UN Secretary General.

“Excellencies,” UN General Secretary Antonio Gutteres told the gathered guests, “the climate challenge is not just another issue in your inbox. Protecting our climate is the world’s greatest test of leadership.”

It’s a great test for HR leaders, recruiters and the technology firms that provide them with solutions as well. In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by fossil fuels by 2030, forward-thinking talent acquisition leaders are actively seeking to hire a new breed of employee: People with green skills — in both white, gray and blue-collar fields — who can help companies fight emissions, create clean technologies and reduce carbon footprints inside and outside the workplace. But in order to reach these goals, TA teams and the vendors that supply them with their technology are adapting to the new hiring demands to attract these valuable workers.

Adapting to modern realities of the job market is part of the job for TA leaders, whether it’s hiring essential workers during a global pandemic, shifting employees from the office to remote work, meeting the needs of DEI mandates and mastering disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence. The recent focus on green skills is an off-shoot of the recent emphasis on employee skills, both hard and soft ones. Not long ago, recruiters looked at a candidate’s resume for their educational background and work experience and their skills almost always sat in the bottom of their CV. Not only have skills risen to the top of nearly everyone’s resumes, they are now front of mind for recruiters and hiring managers.

And the greener the skills, the better.

What are green skills? According to the UN Industrial Development Organization, this set of expertise and strengths encompass “the knowledge, abilities, values, and attitudes needed to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society.”

While this definition is a good start, David Ingleson, Sector Managing Director at AMS, believes that the modern definition of green skills should be broader as many roles in the current green economy are based on established skillsets but are still not seen as uniquely green skills.

“We need to demystify the whole idea of ‘green skills’ as being some kind of technical skillset that can only be achieved with a specialist Masters’ Degree in a scientific field,” says Ingleson.

The demand for green skills will only grow as more organizations, businesses, universities and other entities look for candidates with what Liam Neeson would call “a very particular set of skills.” Ingleson points out that “countless” organizations and nations have now signed commitments such as the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals among others.

“Every large organization in the global economy that wants to be perceived as an attractive employer with a sustainable long-term future has committed to their own individually imposed targets of net-zero or net-neutral by a certain date in the future,” says Ingleson.

Green skills are not just for energy producers.

As little as a decade ago, it would have been safe to assume that primary businesses in need of green skills were limited to energy companies, but this notion has been shattered. Modern green skills are in demand in every sector of business, argues Ingleson. An exemplar in the consumer goods sector is Unilever (an AMS client) who are leading the way in decarbonizing their supply chains and focusing on sustainable product design in their business operations. Unilever’s aspiration to be a ‘net positive’ company is clear to see. Government and education sectors need more policy advisors, researchers, scientists, and environmental experts, and the financial services sector is also scrambling to keep track of sustainability-related reporting as they create and grow their portfolios. They also need to address the increased energy needs for recalculating investment positions for super-fast, sub-second trading manoeuvres and satisfying their power-hungry data server farms for their blockchain operations for cryptocurrency and other asset classes. 

“In the digital and technology sector, we see the need to develop clean technology that is energy efficient, such as using data scientists to analyze complex data sets to see ways to reduce emissions,” adds Ingleson.

According to Veronika Bougioukli, IO Psychologist for TA solution provider and AMS Verified partner Bryq, marquis-name companies are pursuing green skills with enthusiasm and a sense of purpose.

“Consultancies like Deloitte have invested in upskilling their consultants in green skills, Ikea has trained over 20,000 food workers in technology which resulted in 50% cut in food waste, and Walmart has integrated green skills into its operations by hiring professionals with expertise in sustainable supply chain management, energy efficiency, and waste reduction,” she says.

As expected, leading technology firms are all aboard the green skills train, including Siemens Energy, Microsoft, Tesla, Baker Hughes, IBM, AXA among others. “Google has a workforce that includes professionals with green skills in data center efficiency, renewable energy procurement, and sustainable business practices,” adds Bougioukli.

Specific technical expertise varies across sectors. In the renewable energy sector, for example, specific technical expertise may include knowledge of solar panel installation and grid integration. Similarly, in eco-friendly construction, skills related to green building design, and sustainable materials are highly sought after.

“However, there is a universal pattern when it comes to sought-after soft skills,” says Bougioukli. “Recruiters and employers highly value critical thinking, problem-solving, design thinking, creativity, adaptability, empathy, and self-management skills like resilience.”

“Excellencies, the climate challenge is not just another issue in your inbox. Protecting our climate is the world’s greatest test of leadership.”

Antonio Gutteres, UN General Secretary

Where are the workers with green skills?

If employers are eager to hire workers with green skills, why are they facing hurdles in filling these urgent roles? LinkedIn has an idea. In its Global Green Skills Report 2023, the online job and professional networking site scoured its 930 million subscribers for data about the status of hiring for jobs that require green skills and the companies that are hiring for them. The verdict? Green skills may be in high demand but there aren’t nearly enough candidates with these skills looking for work.

The rise of green skills: Between 2022 and 2023 the % of green talent rose by 12.3%; Job postings requiring at least one green skill rose by 22.4%; Hiring rate for workers with at least one green skill is 29%, higher than the workforce average.

Source:  Global Green Skilling Report 2023, LinkedIn

The numbers are eye-opening. LinkedIn found that only one in eight workers have what recruiters would consider to be a green skill. Between 2022 and 2023, the percentage of green talent in the 48 countries that the online career site examined rose by 12.3% while the share of job postings requiring at least one green skill rose by 22.4%.  

While overall hiring slowed globally between 2022 and 2023, job postings requiring at least one green skill increased 15.2% over the same timeframe. The hiring rate for workers with at least one green skill is 29% higher than the workforce average, and since March 2020, workers with green skills have been hired for new jobs at a higher rate than those without these same attributes in every single country examined for the report, LinkedIn says.

Speaking of different nations, from 2015 to 2023, the renewable energy industry hired new employees in every country studied by LinkedIn. As of last March, Sweden boasted the largest slice of auto workers with electric vehicle (EV) skills with 8.1% of workers, while the UK and Germany had the second and third largest percentage of workers with EV skills at 7.3% and 6.1% respectively. The U.S. trailed behind its European counterparts with only 3.7% of auto workers possessing EV skills.

And the green energy space is reasonably secure for employees that possess this expertise. LinkedIn found that for every 100 workers who left the global renewable energy sector, 120 joined to take their place.

Global renewable energy hires of auto workers with EV skills - Sweden:8.1%; UK:7.3%; Germany: 6.1%; US: 3.7%.

Source:  Global Green Skilling Report 2023, LinkedIn

Why is hiring candidates with green skills such a challenge? Typically, green jobs have a high bar for entry because they typically “require combinations of multiple green skills,” Efrem Bycer, Sr., Lead Manager, Public Policy & Economic Graph at LinkedIn said in an interview with Forbes. “Typically, 81% of workers who transition into green jobs have at least some green skills or prior green experience,” he added.

Given the emergence of many new green roles and the scarcity of candidates with direct experience in these positions, it’s crucial for recruiters to identify transferable skills to help them deepen their talent pool, advises Caitlin MacGregor, CEO of TA technology provider and AMS Verified partner Plum.

“You’re not going to find many applicants with 10, 15, 20 years of experience to fill every single role, but you’d be missing out on great people if you limited yourself in that regard,” she says. “By emphasizing soft skills such as innovation, communication, and execution, recruiters can screen-in a wider and more diverse pool of candidates who possess the aligned behaviors necessary to excel in these jobs.”

This is where an assessment platform, like the one Plum provided to clients such as Scotiabank, Whirlpool and others, can play a role. “Given that these competencies are challenging to identify in a consistent, non-biased way, assessment platforms like Plum enable you to gain insights beyond what is evident from a candidate’s resume,” she says. “This enables a more holistic understanding of a candidate’s potential to thrive in a green role while simultaneously ensuring a broad range of perspectives in these roles as well.”

Recruiters can effectively identify candidates with robust green skills during the hiring process by prioritizing objectivity, credibility, and fairness, recommends Bryq’s Bougioukli. “Structured interviews further enhance the identification of candidates with robust green skills during the hiring process,” she says. “This approach ensures a systematic evaluation of both technical proficiency in industry-specific green practices and essential soft skills like problem-solving and critical thinking.”

While up-to-date talent technology is needed in the pursuit of workers with green skills, recruiters need a different mindset when searching and assessing for these new skillsets. AMS’ Ingleson says recruiters ignore the transferability and adjacency of skills at their own risk. For example, he says that engineering problems are similar across many industries, and engineers are equipped with solving complicated engineering problems in whatever industry they might be.

“Analysis of data and critical thinking are skills that can be transferred across many different data-sets and it may just be that it is green data that needs to be analyzed,” he says. Machinery and infrastructure will need to be operated and maintained in the coming years, but it may simply be part of what Ingleson calls a “green infrastructure.” Likewise, leadership skills are “highly transferable” across any industry and can be applied to the green economy.

“It is therefore crucially important that recruiters and hiring managers keep an open mind as to what skills are genuinely needed to operate in a given environment,” says Ingleson.

TA and HR leaders also need to embrace candidate and employee training if they are desperate to fill new ranks of green jobs. TA models like “recruit, train, deploy” could be a highly effective route for green skills hiring, offering a comprehensive approach to address the increasing demand for workers with expertise in sustainable practices and environmental conservation, according to Anna Crowe, Client Operations Director for AMS.

“Such a model can Identify individuals from diverse backgrounds who have the potential and interest in acquiring green skills and design training programs that are tailored to the specific needs of the green economy,” she says.

DEI on the road to being green

The experts we interviewed agree that one of the most exciting aspects of the green skills revolution is the building up of the green collar workforce.

“We have the chance to start from a near blank piece of paper and build a diverse workforce in the green economy, rather than recycling the same non-diverse group of people,” says Ingleson.

“This is where the change of mindset is really important. If we embrace a diversity-led approach to attracting talent into the green economy, we can bring whole new diverse categories of talent into the sector to help accelerate the energy transition,” he says.

The green economy is proving to be an attractive destination for more diverse talent. Renewables-focused university courses attract nearly twice as many more women than pure engineering courses, with around half (48.5%) of students in the renewables-focused courses being women, compared to just 24.9% of students in the pure engineering courses. 

“There needs to be a concerted effort to promote the purpose-led careers available in the green economy. Working practices, remuneration and reward also need to be positioned to ensure all talent consider a career in the sector,” says Ingleson. “Recruiters will play an important role in bringing these aspects to life.”

Ingleson isn’t done with DEI’s role in green skills just yet. “Ongoing investments in green skills development contribute to social fairness and inclusivity,” he says. “By actively promoting training and educational opportunities for underrepresented groups, recruiters can play a proactive role in creating a workforce that reflects diverse perspectives in environmental sustainability roles.”

Despite these dire warnings and signs that governments and industry have put off action against climate change for too long, the UN Secretary General rang a note of hope for the future at the COP28 World Climate Action Summit and the key role that technologists can play in this cause.

“We have the technologies to avoid the worst of climate chaos,” he told the assembled dignitaries, “if we act now.”

written by Phil Albinus and reviewed by the Catalyst Editorial Board

with contribution from:

Veronika Bougioukli

IO Psychologist, Bryq

David Ingleson

Sector Managing Director, AMS

Caitlin McGregor

CEO, Plum




As we look to 2024, major shifts in technology, work environments and hiring practices continue to reshape the future of recruitment. From the constant march of artificial intelligence to the ever-growing importance of diversity and inclusion, the world of talent acquisition has always evolved but 2024 looks set to show a considerable acceleration in the pace of that evolution.

View the story

What’s hot in the world of talent acquisition for 2024

Contributors:

Alexeis Garcia Perez

Professor of Digital Business and Society, Aston Business School

Nicky Hancock

Managing Director, The Americas, AMS

Sara Gutierrez

Chief Scientist, SHL

As we look to 2024, major shifts in technology, work environments and hiring practices continue to reshape the future of recruitment. From the constant march of artificial intelligence to the ever-growing importance of diversity and inclusion, the world of talent acquisition has always evolved but 2024 looks set to show a considerable acceleration in the pace of that evolution.

If you’re wondering where the world of talent might be headed in 2024 and thinking about the key trends you need to keep up with, look no further than our experts round up of what the year has in store.

The operationalization of skills-based hiring

Ongoing talent shortages and the volatility of our current business environment means organizations are having to re-evaluate their approach to hiring people. While almost all talent professionals will have already heard about skills-based hiring hiring for the skills and potential an individual has, rather than experience and past employment history – 2024 will bring a greater focus on operationalizing it, rather than talking about it.

“Skills-based hiring increases talent pools exponentially, it’s good for diversity and inclusion and it gives us more agility in our workforces – but every organization is on a different journey,” says Nicky Hancock, managing director Americas at AMS.

“Some have made some progress from an internal hiring perspective, but generally it is more theoretical than operationalized. The technology is there to do it, it’s more about a culture change in the organization and how to systemize it. We’ll see that next year,” she adds.

 
Moving contingent hiring from procurement to HR

Back in 2020, there were 51.5 million contingent workers in the US, representing more than a third of our entire workforce and generating $1.3tn in revenue. With organizations aiming to become more agile and adaptable while also competing for talent, contingent hiring is likely to continue growing.

With this in mind, businesses are increasingly taking control of their contingent hiring processes and moving it away from procurement and into HR, where it can align better with skills-based hiring and employer branding.

“Traditionally, contingent hiring in the US has been through a provider and has rarely innovated or evolved. Now, it’s all about brand-led direct sourcing. It’s a disruptor and it’s about building talent pools for a brand through identifying skills, regardless of whether they’re for permanent or contingent roles,” says Hancock.

A ‘post-industrial’ age of workforce planning

The combined challenges of artificial intelligence, talent scarcities and an uncertain future means we’re entering a ‘post-industrial’ era of business, where growth will mean focusing on reskilling, retention and productivity, rather than simply increasing headcount.

For recruiters, this will mean thinking about talent attraction in new ways, with a focus on harnessing AI to build data and exploit new talent intelligence, argues HR expert Josh Bersin.

Future business success might be about doing more work with fewer people – and better workforce planning.

“All over the world companies feel a need to improve productivity, yet we keep throwing more tools at people, expecting work to get better. It is time to couple strong technologies with new models of leadership, organizational dynamism, and more integrated HR. When done in concert, these strategies can help any company grow and thrive without hiring more and more people,” says Bersin.

GenAI or ethical AI?

Conversations about AI will continue to dominate the recruitment industry in 2024, but regulation and how to stay on the right side of the ethical argument will become an increasingly important part of it.

Earlier this year, New York State implemented legislation requiring companies using AI in hiring to notify candidates that they were doing so, while also allowing independent auditors to check the technology for bias. Regulation is coming, and recruiters need to be aware of it.

While AI potentially has huge benefits for sectors of work, there are two key risks for business. One is accuracy, with a recent Stanford University study claiming Chat GPT is becoming less accurate over time, rather than more.

The second is about ensuring that humans make the ultimate decision on hiring, not technology.

Alexeis Garcia Perez is professor of digital business and society at Aston Business School. He believes that it is incumbent on all businesses to update skills to ensure humans are able to manage digital transformation 2.0.

“As we transition into a knowledge economy and jobs continue to be transformed by technology, employees who lack the adaptability enabled by digital fluency risk structural unemployment. For businesses this would mean a challenge to recruit talent, execute new strategies and keep pace with the speed and nature of change. Investing to facilitate and improve access to digital skills and cultivate a culture of continuous learning is key to securing a competitive and inclusive economic future,” he says.

Resignation not relocation

The days of new hires willingly uprooting homes and families to move cross country for a new job are over. The rate at which American employees move for work fell to a record 1.6% in the first three months of 2023, according to data by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The proportion of jobseekers moving for work has been on a downward trend since the firm began measuring the data in 1986 (when 48.1% of people relocated for work), However, the confluence of plentiful remote jobs, skyrocketing mortgage rates and house prices, and decreasing employer loyalty means moving for work is no longer an option for many.

So what does this mean for recruiters in 2024? As employers get increasingly serious about a return to the office, they’ll have to reevaluate their relocation strategies in order to attract – and retain – the best talent. Asking your people to move for work is no longer a given.

A ‘post-industrial’ age of workforce planning

The combined challenges of artificial intelligence, talent scarcities and an uncertain future means we’re entering a ‘post-industrial’ era of business, where growth will mean focusing on reskilling, retention and productivity, rather than simply increasing headcount.

For recruiters, this will mean thinking about talent attraction in new ways, with a focus on harnessing AI to build data and exploit new talent intelligence, argues HR expert Josh Bersin.

Future business success might be about doing more work with fewer people – and better workforce planning.

“All over the world companies feel a need to improve productivity, yet we keep throwing more tools at people, expecting work to get better. It is time to couple strong technologies with new models of leadership, organizational dynamism, and more integrated HR. When done in concert, these strategies can help any company grow and thrive without hiring more and more people,” says Bersin.

GenAI or ethical AI?

Conversations about AI will continue to dominate the recruitment industry in 2024, but regulation and how to stay on the right side of the ethical argument will become an increasingly important part of it.

Earlier this year, New York State implemented legislation requiring companies using AI in hiring to notify candidates that they were doing so, while also allowing independent auditors to check the technology for bias. Regulation is coming, and recruiters need to be aware of it.

While AI potentially has huge benefits for sectors of work, there are two key risks for business. One is accuracy, with a recent Stanford University study claiming Chat GPT is becoming less accurate over time, rather than more.

The second is about ensuring that humans make the ultimate decision on hiring, not technology.

Alexeis Garcia Perez is professor of digital business and society at Aston Business School. He believes that it is incumbent on all businesses to update skills to ensure humans are able to manage digital transformation 2.0.

“As we transition into a knowledge economy and jobs continue to be transformed by technology, employees who lack the adaptability enabled by digital fluency risk structural unemployment. For businesses this would mean a challenge to recruit talent, execute new strategies and keep pace with the speed and nature of change. Investing to facilitate and improve access to digital skills and cultivate a culture of continuous learning is key to securing a competitive and inclusive economic future,” he says.

Resignation not relocation

The days of new hires willingly uprooting homes and families to move cross country for a new job are over. The rate at which American employees move for work fell to a record 1.6% in the first three months of 2023, according to data by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The proportion of jobseekers moving for work has been on a downward trend since the firm began measuring the data in 1986 (when 48.1% of people relocated for work), However, the confluence of plentiful remote jobs, skyrocketing mortgage rates and house prices, and decreasing employer loyalty means moving for work is no longer an option for many.

So what does this mean for recruiters in 2024? As employers get increasingly serious about a return to the office, they’ll have to reevaluate their relocation strategies in order to attract – and retain – the best talent. Asking your people to move for work is no longer a given.

Investment in people for the long-term

As Gen AI continues to impact workforces, uproot jobs and change the very fabric of work, it is vital that recruiters and businesses extol the benefits of investing in the right people and talent for the long-term success of business.

In short, businesses should not let short-term solutions like artificial intelligence overshadow the long-term value human capital can bring.

“Although we saw economic struggles coming out of the pandemic, we also witnessed the most buoyant job market in recent history. This led to the Great Resignation, with employees having agency and power, and employers having to work hard to attract and retain talent. The result: higher starting salaries, greater flexibility, more work life-balance, and so on,” says Sara Gutierrez, chief scientist at SHL, the global leader in talent insight and data analysis.

“That pendulum has shifted. A tight labor market and less opportunity, coupled with job insecurity and a cost-of-living crisis means that employers are back in the driving seat. While it might be tempting for organizations to pull back from employee-oriented initiatives, such action will be short-sighted. Organizations that continue to invest in their people, offering development, mobility, and career growth in 2024 will reap the rewards in the months and years to come.”

written by the Catalyst Editorial Board

with contribution from:

Alexeis Garcia Perez

Professor of Digital Business and Society, Aston Business School

Nicky Hancock

Managing Director, The Americas, AMS

Sara Gutierrez

Chief Scientist, SHL





The emergence of AI has the potential to radically transform talent acquisition and retention. From enhanced efficiency and improved candidate matching to smoother application journeys and predictive culture fits, up to 80% of American workplaces are already using AI.

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Artificial intelligence, ethics and the world of talent

Contributors:

Kira Makagon

Chief Innovation Officer, RingCentral

Annie Hammer

Head of technology and analytics advisory Americas, AMS

The emergence of AI has the potential to radically transform talent acquisition and retention. From enhanced efficiency and improved candidate matching to smoother application journeys and predictive culture fits, up to 80% of American workplaces are already using AI in some form for employment decision making, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

However, the implementation of any new technology comes with potential downsides. The use of AI in talent acquisition poses several ethical challenges, particularly around issues of bias and discrimination. While AI aims to minimize biases, it can actually amplify existing ones if not calibrated and monitored correctly.

For example, AI systems that evaluate candidates’ facial expressions have been shown to prioritize male, white and able-bodied individuals, according to research by MIT and Stanford University. Startlingly, the study found that the facial recognition systems tested incorrectly assigned gender in more than a third (34.7%) of images of dark-skinned women.

Regulation is coming

Perhaps with such issues in mind, New York City became the first state to implement an AI hiring law, with its Automated Employment Decision Tool law coming into force in July 2023. The legislation forces employers to tell candidates when they are using AI in the hiring process as well as submit to annual audits examining the technology to ensure their systems are not discriminatory. Companies violating the rules face fines.

With further AI regulation in the pipeline, how can organizations create ethical, responsible AI systems that both future proof their workforces and stay on the right side of regulation?

“A lot of organizations that have been excited by AI are now having to grapple with regulation and understand how it affects their systems,” says Annie Hammer, head of technology and analytics advisory Americas at AMS.

“The big thing to understand is whether the technology you are using is actually AI in the first place. If it is, you need to consider the use case. Is it being used for automated decision-making or not? That’s the key issue,” she adds.

New York City’s law has been met with criticism from all sides. Some argue that it is hard to enforce and potentially excludes many uses of automated systems in hiring, while businesses argue that it is an unnecessary burden on the recruitment process.

Such is the uncertainty of its impact that many businesses are ‘waiting and watching’ on its impact before committing to further AI tools, says Hammer.

Meeting ethical challenges

At the heart of this is the need for businesses to stay up to date with technological advances and the impact artificial intelligence is having on their processes. Without adequate training, monitoring and process validation, companies open themselves up to both regulatory issues and to poor adoption of technology.

“We often see organizations that have implemented technology with AI capabilities over a year ago, but haven’t done any refresher training or updates. Not only do they have risk associated with this lack of training, but they also see falling adoption of the technology as they don’t adapt and develop their capabilities. There simply isn’t a maturity around training and governance with AI technology,” says Hammer.

Combating potential challenges around bias and discrimination requires a robust strategy examining the outcomes of technology usage. This might mean running parallel processes, with one group using AI technology and another not, to evaluate outcomes and how the tool is impacting decision-making.

It could also mean creating specific teams responsible for ethical regulation of AI usage in talent tools.

“We’re increasingly seeing new teams being set up to be responsible for hiring technology and their ethical use in business – groups like talent acquisition enablement, talent acquisition operations, talent acquisition innovation and solutions. Essentially, they are teams of business partners working across talent acquisition, legal and compliance, HR and IT to enable new ways of working in the recruitment function,” says Hammer.

The crux of the matter is that decision-making in talent acquisition must ultimately be made by a human. AI can aid the process and make the candidate journey easier, but it cannot be allowed to make the final decision. Organizations need to check that the recommendations technology is making are being challenged by their people, not just waved through.

People-first approach

This applies to other AI use cases at work. Kira Makagon is chief innovation officer at cloud communications platform RingCentral. She believes that businesses need to take a ‘people-first’ approach to the transformative potential of AI.

“In this digital age of communications and enhanced collaboration, artificial intelligence (AI) promises to be the driving force for most, if not all, of the transformation when it comes to ways of working. That promise, however, still depends on the millions of workers who will have an everyday experience with this new technology and therefore, workers must have a say in how it’s implemented and used,” says Makagon.

“Business leaders need to strike the right balance in a people-first approach to AI, as this is crucial to ensuring that the most efficient and functional foundations are laid for the smoothest adoption of AI. Humans make AI better and without their input, businesses will miss out on valuable insight that could determine how successful they are in the future,” she adds.

Hammer agrees that businesses need to look at the impact technology has on their people in a more concerted way. One way of doing this is to utilize AI to engage and develop existing employees.

“We focus a lot of content on external attraction, but AI can be better used to help existing employees find mobility opportunities and new roles. Another growing area is using AI to help guide employees on what skills they need to develop and what jobs they should take.

“A recent study on employee coaching found that some people actually trust AI more than their line managers when it comes to planning their next move,” adds Hammer.

AI regulation is set to grow globally and businesses need to constantly be aware of how changes affect their organization. Effective planning, people-led decision making and skills development are key to meeting this challenge.

Navigating Talent Technology at AMS

If you wish to stay ahead of the curve and be AI-ready be sure to keep regularly informed by visiting the new AMS Navigating Talent Technology resource where you will find up to date and relevant thought leadership focusing on the central role that AI and technology plays within the world of talent.  Explore whitepapers and thought leadership articles and our recently launched Talent Technology Translator helping  you to talk tech fluently and make informed talent decisions, faster. 

written by the Catalyst Editorial Board

with contribution from:

Kira Makagon

Chief Innovation Officer, RingCentral

Annie Hammer

Head of technology and analytics advisory Americas, AMS





The life sciences and pharmaceutical industry is facing massive disruption. Biotechnology, digitization and ‘a patent cliff of tectonic magnitude’ are transforming the industry, changing how treatments are developed and delivered while also leading to a revolution in the roles and skills needed.

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Why pharma and life sciences industry needs to rethink talent attraction

Contributors:

Georgia Pink

Analyst and Head of Event Content, LEAP TA: Life Sciences

Chip Holmes

Managing Director, Client Services, AMS

The life sciences and pharmaceutical industry is facing massive disruption. Biotechnology, digitization and ‘a patent cliff of tectonic magnitude’ are transforming the industry, changing how treatments are developed and delivered while also leading to a revolution in the roles and skills needed.

With such change, industry skills gaps are increasing. Four out of five (80%) of pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities are struggling with skills mismatches and half of all executives say that recruiting experienced staff is challenging, according to the report. Things aren’t much better in the clinical trial sphere, with more than a third (36%) of drug developers warning that talent shortages are limiting progress.

 To solve these shortages, life sciences companies are having to think more creatively about how they recruit, attract, retain and upskill both existing and new talent.

 “Life sciences has some significant challenges at the moment. As Deloitte says, we’re going from doing digital to being digital. We have all these roles to fill that two years ago didn’t exist. We also know that in five years time, there will be more jobs to fill that we currently have no idea about.  So where do we find the people needed to fill these roles?’ asks Chip Holmes, managing director, client services at AMS.

 
Growing talent pools

For Holmes, the move towards digitization starts with re-evaluating how life sciences and pharmaceutical companies recruit. With such a limited talent pool to choose from and new skill-sets required, it no longer makes sense to focus on past experience or job history.

“Currently, life sciences companies are hiring too much against job descriptions, with hiring managers looking for people already within the industry who can do a particular job. Skill-based hiring is about hiring for aptitude and propensity to learn. You hire them, and train them in what they need,” says Holmes.

When shining a light on attracting talent, internal hiring is of critical importance especially within the life science sector.  A lack of focus on internal mobility risks growth, according to new data analysis by AMS and The Josh Bersin Company. AMS’s latest Talent Climate Series on Internal Hiring is a challenging read for many talent acquisition teams who have spent so long bringing great talent into organizations only to see it walk out of the door to find new opportunities. The data, compiled in association with experts at The Josh Bersin Company, highlights that only 25% of roles today are filled by internal hiring, but with effective skills mapping, great technology, and building a culture of mobility, organizations can turn that tide and accelerate growth. 

Georgia Pink is an analyst and senior event producer at Hanson Wade, which curates the LEAP HR’s Life Sciences global conferences. She agrees that skills-based hiring is high on the agenda in the sector.

“We frequently hear that life sciences organizations need to be able to identify and navigate future talent needs to fill the growing skills gaps and the increasing number of open positions. As a result, we’ve seen a greater focus in 2023 on skills-based hiring, which for many companies is replacing the traditional approach and opening up opportunities to reach a far wider talent pool,” says Pink.

“Not only is this enabling life science organizations to fill positions more quickly, but it is allowing them to match candidates to roles in a more meaningful way, whilst challenging biases that come with a more traditional approach to sourcing talent,” she adds.

Strategies for growth

Moving towards skills-based hiring also allows life sciences and pharmaceutical companies to improve on another strategic business aim – diversity.

According to Biospace’s 2022 Diversity in Life Sciences report, 65% of the life sciences workforce is white, with black people making up 6% and Hispanic/Latinx individuals 8%. By focusing recruitment on potential and skills rather than experience and education, hiring managers can open up new talent pools.

Recruiting for potential leads to another change talent leaders need to make – and that’s to focus more on internal career development and skills building.

“This is the first time individuals in life sciences have had – en masse – a willingness to move industries. It used to be that when you were in life sciences, you were in and spent your whole career here. Now, we’re at a point where people think there might be opportunities in other industries,” warns Holmes.

Combating this potential talent drain means creating the right opportunities for individuals to develop and progress. From a diversity perspective, that means ensuring that talent from different backgrounds not only have the opportunity to progress, but also see and hear from role models in senior positions.

It also means rethinking your employer brand to ensure that you target the right people on the right channels. Research is key, as the image a company thinks it projects is often at odds with the one candidates see.

“Employer branding is key. How do we move from having an employee value proposition to a talent value proposition? The start is to consider the segments of talent you are targeting. We’ve worked with life sciences companies who say they want to be more diverse, but when we run a persona check on the people they’re reaching out to, they all look the same”, says Holmes.

“It’s vital to do your research. Does what you put out to market match what people are saying about you? Oftentimes, companies find that they are not who they think they are,” he adds.

Pink agrees that brand activation and defining an effective EVP is increasingly important to companies in the sector.

“Companies doing noticeable work in this space are actively leveraging internal and external data insights to understand the reality of the brand they are portraying. Analyzing this data and understanding how your organization is perceived is key to identifying and defining a truthful and impactful EVP,” she says.

Future optimism

Despite a downturn in recruitment and the ongoing talent shortage, Holmes believes there is plenty for the sector to be positive about. He sees 2023’s levelling out of recruitment as a temporary measure, predicting that by 2025 we’ll begin to see an upward curve in hiring again.

However, the make-up of where the industry gets its talent from, and where it’s based is likely to change. Holmes cites the APAC region as an area of growth with tremendous talent pools and a bigger consumer base, with EMEA and the US markets more saturated.

“One of the things life sciences really needs to look at is a global location strategy. I’m aware of a couple of life sciences companies who are really trying to change their employee percentages in India and China by looking to move into those areas. They’re not going to exit the US, but they’re looking for a diversified strategy,” he says.

infographic reading: 90,000 jobs are set to disappearin the next decade, but 120,000 new jobs will be created

This reimagining of what the life sciences and pharmaceuticals sector looks like is going to continue. Thriving through this period of uncertainty requires agility, flexibility and an openness to change.

“Companies need to be thinking about how artificial intelligence is going to affect the industry and how they can become more digital. The future of life sciences is very bright, but talent is hard to find. Jobs are going to exist and grow, but the skill sets, and profile of people is going to change. We need to be ready for that,” says Holmes.

written by the Catalyst Editorial Board

with contribution from:

Georgia Pink

Analyst and Head of Event Content, LEAP TA: Life Sciences

Chip Holmes

Managing Director, Client Services, AMS





Businesses have focused heavily on filling technology jobs in recent years, but the tech talent gap continues to grow – despite recent cutbacks and layoffs.

View the story

Tech skilling and finding the right skills in your organization

Contributors:

David Shrier

Professor of Practice, AI & Innovation, Imperial College Business School

Erica Titchener

Global Head of Technology & Analytics Advisory, AMS

Claudia Nuttgens

Global Head of Assessment Advisory, AMS

Businesses have focused heavily on filling technology jobs in recent years, but the tech talent gap continues to grow – despite recent cutbacks and layoffs.

In fact, around 80% of tech workers who were laid off in 2022 found new jobs within three months, according to a ZipRecruiter survey, with the number of new technology job postings far outnumbering the amount of people laid off. With tech skills in such high demand, many simply moved out of the technology sector into other industries, including retail, fintech and healthcare.

At the same time, research shows that the US is lagging behind its neighbors when it comes to developing digital skills. One third of working age Americans possess ‘limited’ digital skills according to the OECD, with the US ranking just 29 out of 100 countries for the digital acumen of its workforce in business, technology and digital science.

“People are often not thinking in a systems fashion about the impact of digital transformation,” says David Shrier, Professor of Practice, AI & Innovation at Imperial College Business School.

“I spent the summer working with investment bank research house Evercore ISI looking at the impact of AI on the global economy. Their work suggests that almost 100% of jobs will experience some impact from digital transformation, and within that, 32% will feel meaningful effects from AI. We are projecting as much as $11.8tn of GDP growth by 2032 from AI – nearly 10% of global GDP,” he adds.

Dealing with these factors and unlocking the true potential of organizations in a digital age will require a fundamental shift in how companies think about tech talent and skills development. At the heart of this is the move towards skills-based talent management – where employees are hired, rewarded, and developed based on their current and potential skills, rather than past experience or job roles.

Taking a skills approach

Increasingly, organizations are building and developing tech capabilities, rather than simply hiring them.

“Every organization is competing for the same skills. One way to deal with this is internal tech skilling, where you identify existing skills gaps and build out internal training capability to move people from one area of the business into more of a tech space,” says Erica Titchener, Global Head of Technology & Analytics Advisory at AMS.

“The challenges with this are two-fold. First, you need effective internal mobility and learning and development programs. Secondly, you need insight into the existing skills make-up of your organization. That’s the journey most businesses are on – how to identify what skills they already have in the business, and what skills within the business can be transformed, upskilled, or reskilled into the tech space,” she adds.

The idea of a skills strategy is not a new one. However, what is new – as HR thought leader Josh Bersin points out – is the way organizations are using technology and skills frameworks in an integrated way for recruitment, internal mobility and development.

For many businesses, building a skills framework is a messy, incredibly challenging job. Identifying – and then updating – all the skills your people own and that your jobs require is time-consuming and confusing.

“In the past three to four years, technology has really caught up to this skills-based hiring agenda. Instead of building your own internal skills taxonomy, many organizations are using software providers that provide personalizable taxonomies to help drive skills development for employees,” says Titchener.

To succeed in implementing this technology, businesses need to be able to do two things – drive adoption of their chosen platform and accurately assess internal and external skills capabilities.

“To drive adoption, you need colleagues to get something back. You need to think about the user experience and ensure that when they login, it’s always worthwhile. In return for updating their skills, people need to receive opportunities to grow,” says Titchener.

The role of assessment

When it comes to skills-based assessment, some job roles and industries are easier to assess than others, argues Claudia Nuttgens, Global Head of Assessment Advisory at AMS.

“Skills-based assessment works really well in certain areas, particularly technology. Here, you can be prescriptive about the skills needed – such as coding – and what you can predict if you can develop them. If your job is decision-making based and intellectual, it can be harder to quantify the skills needed,” she says.

What skills-based assessment can do is diversify the talent pools you normally recruit or promote from. By focusing on an individual’s capabilities and potential rather than experience and employment history, organizations can tap into new areas. This can be particularly helpful with technology skilling, where potential is easier to map.

“In theory, the skills-based approach will unlock social mobility, gender diversity and internal mobility. You can do a base assessment looking at an individual’s attitude to learning and curiosity while also mapping their past experience to your business needs,” says Nuttgens.

“We’ve seen really good pockets of success in certain role types or demographics, such as our training recruiters program and our work with ex-military personnel – people who wouldn’t traditionally be in those talent pools,” she adds.

Changing business requirements and the impact of technology means the assessment industry is constantly having to update itself. Nuttgens warns that tools like Chat GPT have led to an increase in cheating in assessments, with recruiters having to look at different processes to assess talent. Skills-based hiring is only accelerating this process.

“If you want to move towards skills-based hiring, you can’t just focus on interviewing people and expect to understand their skills. You need to see them work, measure their personalities and attitudes. We’re leaning more towards experiential assessment with a bit more of a human touch,” says Nuttgens.

Diagnose and strategize

With lifelong learning on the agenda for most employees and organizations, it’s also important to focus on so-called softer skills like resilience, agility and adaptability, warns professor Shrier.

“In addition to technical and factual capabilities to address AI disruption and other kinds of digital transformation impacts, companies need to reorient their workforces around the ‘new skills’ of the post-generative AI era: soft skills like empathy, critical thinking, creativity and team skills,” he says.

“One CEO of a $4bn multinational we were working with thought his team were doing quite a bit in this area. It turns out only 20% of training was on soft skills, so doing a diagnostic helped them look at how to reorient their training activities,” adds Shrier.

Ultimately, no technology or desire to focus on skills-based hiring can be successful without planning, processes, and strategizing. Getting skilling right requires a commitment to ongoing development.

“You need to be ready and have the budget to make adaptations and tweaks every quarter. Organizations invest heavily upfront but leave nothing for optimization. Forward planning is key,” says Titchener.

written by the Catalyst Editorial Board

with contribution from:

David Shrier

Professor of Practice, AI & Innovation, Imperial College Business

Erica Titchener

Global Head of Technology & Analytics Advisory, AMS

Claudia Nuttgens

Global Head of Assessment Advisory, AMS

The role of assessment

When it comes to skills-based assessment, some job roles and industries are easier to assess than others, argues Claudia Nuttgens, Global Head of Assessment Advisory at AMS.

“Skills-based assessment works really well in certain areas, particularly technology. Here, you can be prescriptive about the skills needed – such as coding – and what you can predict if you can develop them. If your job is decision-making based and intellectual, it can be harder to quantify the skills needed,” she says.

What skills-based assessment can do is diversify the talent pools you normally recruit or promote from. By focusing on an individual’s capabilities and potential rather than experience and employment history, organizations can tap into new areas. This can be particularly helpful with technology skilling, where potential is easier to map.

“In theory, the skills-based approach will unlock social mobility, gender diversity and internal mobility. You can do a base assessment looking at an individual’s attitude to learning and curiosity while also mapping their past experience to your business needs,” says Nuttgens.

“We’ve seen really good pockets of success in certain role types or demographics, such as our training recruiters program and our work with ex-military personnel – people who wouldn’t traditionally be in those talent pools,” she adds.

Changing business requirements and the impact of technology means the assessment industry is constantly having to update itself. Nuttgens warns that tools like Chat GPT have led to an increase in cheating in assessments, with recruiters having to look at different processes to assess talent. Skills-based hiring is only accelerating this process.

“If you want to move towards skills-based hiring, you can’t just focus on interviewing people and expect to understand their skills. You need to see them work, measure their personalities and attitudes. We’re leaning more towards experiential assessment with a bit more of a human touch,” says Nuttgens.

Diagnose and strategize

With lifelong learning on the agenda for most employees and organizations, it’s also important to focus on so-called softer skills like resilience, agility and adaptability, warns professor Shrier.

“In addition to technical and factual capabilities to address AI disruption and other kinds of digital transformation impacts, companies need to reorient their workforces around the ‘new skills’ of the post-generative AI era: soft skills like empathy, critical thinking, creativity and team skills,” he says.

“One CEO of a $4bn multinational we were working with thought his team were doing quite a bit in this area. It turns out only 20% of training was on soft skills, so doing a diagnostic helped them look at how to reorient their training activities,” adds Shrier.

Ultimately, no technology or desire to focus on skills-based hiring can be successful without planning, processes, and strategizing. Getting skilling right requires a commitment to ongoing development.

“You need to be ready and have the budget to make adaptations and tweaks every quarter. Organizations invest heavily upfront but leave nothing for optimization. Forward planning is key,” says Titchener.

written by the Catalyst Editorial Board

with contribution from:

David Shrier

Professor of Practice, AI & Innovation, Imperial College Business

Erica Titchener

Global Head of Technology & Analytics Advisory, AMS

Claudia Nuttgens

Global Head of Assessment Advisory, AMS





By 2024, a quarter of the USA’s workforce will be aged 55 or over, with a third of those older than 65, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Early careers – vital for business success

Contributors:

Kirsten Barnes

CEO, Bright Network

Susan Major

Global Managing Director, Early Careers and Campus, AMS

By 2024, a quarter of the USA’s workforce will be aged 55 or over, with a third of those older than 65, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At the other end of the age spectrum will be Gen Z (those born between 1997-2012), who are expected to make up 27% of our workforce by 2025. With 3% of baby boomers taking retirement during the pandemic, early careers talent is vital to organizations looking to fill existing skills gaps and create a resilient, future proof workforce. But what does the next generation of employees want from work and how do we attract them?

“There has been a strong trend towards investing in early careers programs, with a massive focus on equality, diversity and inclusion in the past few years,” says Susan Major, Global Managing Director for Early Careers and Campus at AMS.
“Organizations have had to pledge to do even more in terms of diversity targets – and they have seen early careers as a way to do that,” adds Major.

In the US, this has meant a move away from recruiting at targeted schools and universities towards skills and potential. According to NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) statistics, employers who screen for GPA (Grade Point Average) have dropped from 73% in 2018-19 to 37% in 2022-23. This move away from screening for grades and academic achievement to potential and skills development brings more diverse candidates into an organization’s talent pool – as well as reflecting a wider trend towards skills-based hiring.

However, Major cautions that it’s one thing to attract diverse talent, but another to retain and develop them.

“Moving away from GPA means that organizations are pulling in more diverse candidates, but are they set up to support these candidates when they arrive? Almost every survey I look at tells me that young people don’t feel ready for the world of work and that is even worse for those from diverse backgrounds,” says Major.

Having a post-offer communication strategy can help limit reneges, while dedicated coaching and mentoring schemes can help new recruits settle in and allow them to optimize their potential.

What Gen Z wants

While hiring may have eased off after the frenzy of the post-pandemic years, the jobs market remains a candidate-driven one. In the US, there are 1.6 job openings for every unemployed worker, according to government statistics. Attracting early careers talent can be just as challenging.

Kirsten Barnes is CEO at the UK based digital platform Bright Network. Its annual What do Graduates Want? report surveys 14,000 students about their future job prospects and how employers can best engage with them, with the latest edition finding that 84% of students believe that the cost of living crisis will impact their career prospects. Job security, salary and development opportunities are key.

“Graduates understand that they are new to the world of work and are looking for employers to upskill them. They want to see what training, development and support is available to them,” says Barnes.

This provides an opportunity for employers to engage with early careers talent. Networking is a particular skill that young people want to develop, so employers should be creating – and shouting about – opportunities for young people to meet with them in person. Other priority areas for development include commercial awareness, coding and expectations in a professional environment, according to Bright Network’s survey.

“Corporate social responsibility, from sustainability to equality, diversity and inclusion, are important elements when students and graduates are researching employers. They want to see what work is being done in this area, but it’s important to be authentic. It’s OK to be on a journey to be more diverse and graduate talent would rather hear and understand this than be met with misrepresentative claims,” she adds.

Re-engaging to avoid reneging

A by product of Gen Z’s desire for better job security and better salaries is a marked increase in the number of those reneging on offers.

“Candidates seem much more willing to hold multiple offers and not feel bad about reneging,” says Major.
“During the pandemic, everything became virtual. While some of the techniques we use to attract talent has gone back to in-person, a lot of organizations have kept assessment virtual rather than asking people to make travel arrangements. From a diversity point of view this should allow more people to apply, but some of the dialogue we’re having suggests people aren’t as engaged as the process is remote,” she adds.

Barnes agrees that employers need to do more to keep candidates engaged between offering a role and starting a job.

“Our members shared that if they held competing job offers, factors such as the length of commute, salary and flexible working conditions would help drive their decision. 40% of those surveyed are significantly concerned about the uncertain economic environment having an impact on their job prospects, so salary and job security are key. In addition, clearly communicated, strong L&D offerings for once they have joined will also reduce the likelihood of reneging,” says Barnes.

Building loyalty through effective recruitment marketing can reduce the risk of reneges. This could be as obvious as providing a positive application experience and giving those with an offer access to groups where they can communicate. However, it could also be about face-to-face interactions where you give back to the student community, such as insight days or meeting students on campus. It could even involve helping new recruits with finding accommodation or introducing them to your benefits providers.

Whatever engagement strategy an organization chooses to use, the tension between what Gen Z wants from the new world of work and how best to provide them with workplace skills remains.

“There is an interesting trend emerging with candidates wanting to work flexibly post-pandemic. Young talent wants work/life balance and flexibility, but they also say they feel isolated and stressed, with many preferring face-to-face training. How organizations deal with that in their development programs will be important going forward,” says Major.

written by the Catalyst Editorial Board

with contribution from:

Kirsten Barnes

CEO, Bright Network

Susan Major

Global Managing Director, Early Careers and Campus, AMS





Freelancers and contingent workers form an increasingly important part of an organization’s workforce. According to Staffing Industry Analysts, there were 51.5 million contingent workers in the US in 2021, representing more than a third of the region’s workforce and generating $1.3tn in revenue.

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Integrating contingent labor into strategic talent planning

Contributors:

Dustin Talley
Founder & CEO, Talent Simplified

Mark Jones
Executive Vice President, AMS

Laurie Padua
Managing Director, Talent Advisory Services, AMS

Freelancers and contingent workers form an increasingly important part of an organization’s workforce. According to Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), there were 51.5 million contingent workers in the US in 2021, representing more than a third (35%) of the region’s workforce and generating $1.3tn in revenue.

This number is almost certain to grow. Companies have weathered an unprecedented level of chaos over recent years, from the impact of the Great Resignation and skills gaps to rising interest rates and heightened production and supply chain costs. At the same time, demand for talent remains high, with 1.9 jobs available for every unemployed person in the US in January, according to data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

The consequence of this state of flux is that companies are increasingly attracted to the flexibility provided by contingent workers. The ability to access experienced, readily available talent at the right variable cost offers employers the agility to meet current talent requirements without the cost of full-time employees. It is also the perfect marriage with more and more workers wanting flexibility in the post pandemic age.

“After the 2008 financial crisis, we saw heavy utilization of contract workers. At that time, it was driven by necessity, but not strategic in most cases. This time around is proving to be different. The organizations that get it right will find ways to use budget wisely in place of headcount. Instead of just filling roles reactively, companies are taking proactive measures like building talent pools and equipping their teams with access to on-demand resources,” says Dustin Talley, CEO and founder of Talent Simplified.

However, if done without proper thought, the growth in contingent hiring also brings challenges for organizations – not least in terms of reputational risk and potential damage to existing employees’ engagement.

Skills not silos

One of the main challenges with contingent hiring is that it is often run in a silo, separate from other talent functions. In the US, contingent hiring is often the remit of the procurement department with permanent recruitment run by human resources. The reality is that these two functions often operate individually and with little interaction, making the integration of contingent hiring into strategic workforce planning difficult.

“The operational reality shows that the idea of total talent management is still theoretical,” says Mark Jones, Executive Vice President at AMS.

“One of the challenges of contingent labor is that it is by default a tactical solution to find people quickly. When you do that, you use a staffing agency. It is ingrained in how supply chains including internally and externally run MSP’s operate. So, this whole concept of brand and loyalty is nice in theory but will only work if talent acquisition leaders genuinely change how resources are procured.” He goes on to add: “It requires an extra layer of thought, joined up planning and thinking which until recently, often is simply put into the nice to have, but not now category.”

Progress may be slow, but the move towards a more innovative approach to contingent hiring is undeniable. The growth in skills-based approaches to hiring – which puts an individual’s skills profile above employment method, experience and location – is furthering this trend.

“A lot of this is about undoing an existing mindset of needing to hire someone versus needing to get something done. As we enter the skills-based economy, work is about getting a project done rather than completing a 40-hour working week,” says Talley.

According to a SIA report released in May, while only 28% of organizations currently have a strategy for contingent workforce planning as part of their corporate strategy, more than half (55%) are exploring it. The same study indicated that 27% of organizations have a talent pool of some description in place to source contingent workers but 46% were considering it.

“Skills-based companies will win in the future. It will be slow, but it will play out. I see mid-sized companies gaining market share as they’re being smarter around talent and tagging the skills so they know what they have. They are the ones competing and winning, as they’re quick to respond to both clients’ needs and their own internal talent requirements,” adds Talley.

“We’re in the first innings of a nine innings game and skills-based hiring is a part of that,” agrees Jones.

“However, the best time to outsource is in an environment like today, where organizations are coming off all-time highs in hiring. There is a reduction in open roles and all our clients are hiring less, which means there is more capacity in the contingent market,” he adds.

Part of the challenge in integrating contingent hiring into a more holistic approach to talent management is the need for change management. Moving away from a historic way of working with staffing agencies to a direct sourcing strategy requires a different approach across the talent acquisition supply chain. This is where strong leadership and a fully thought out workforce planning strategy is needed.

Data-led decision making

Laurie Padua is managing director of Talent Advisory Services at AMS. She believes that companies need to be more strategic about the talent they attract and employ.

“What we do at advisory is think about the skills and capabilities that an organization needs to drive the end goal it’s trying to achieve, rather than just filling job roles. The worker type is almost irrelevant – it’s about focusing on what your organization needs from a talent perspective, then using data to learn more about the skills and capabilities you are trying to attract,” she says.

“For example, can you get the people you need permanently? Where do they need to be located? Do you need to bring in cohorts of individuals with the skills you need and upskill other employees? We take a holistic, thoughtful approach to talent solutions and contingent hiring is certainly part of that conversation, particularly with the agility and scalability it gives businesses when it comes to costs,” adds Padua.

It’s fine for operational processes and technology to vary between contingent and permanent hiring, says Padua, but your overall strategy must align. Communication is key, otherwise companies can end up in a situation where the contingent hiring team is trying to recruit for the same role as the permanent team.

“The reason some organizations are resistant to change is that they don’t know where to start. Our advisory service can provide expertise on the transformational change journey and get them to the starting point,” says Padua.

Ultimately, change management is a difficult process to go through, but corporations should focus on the benefits of direct sourcing within contingent labor.

“Building contingent recruitment into your holistic talent strategy creates cost savings, allows you to access talent faster and without intermediaries and puts control of talent back into your own hands,” says Padua.

AMS’s own figures back up data around direct sourcing of contingent labor. In the US, AMS clients are achieving in excess of 10% cost savings, with improved candidate quality and quicker submission. Some clients are seeing talent pools in excess of 20,000 contractors after 12-24 months adoption, with other areas of the business using these candidates as part of their emerging skills-based hiring strategy.

“Right now, the traditional routes to market are working. However, our thesis is that things are going to continue to change, the labor market will tighten and that these types of strategies will allow companies to leverage their brand loyalty to make cost savings and generate more hiring options than they currently have,” says Jones.

written by the Catalyst Editorial Board

with contribution from:

Dustin Talley

Founder & CEO, Talent Simplified

Mark Jones

Executive Vice President, AMS

Laurie Padua

Managing Director, Talent Advisory Services, AMS





The coming months are likely to be challenging for all businesses. A global economic slowdown has seen job cuts and hiring pauses forecast – perhaps as a correction to post-pandemic hiring spikes.

View the story

Challenging times?
Employer brand is the hidden secret to commercial success

Contributors:

Vangie Sison
Head of Employer Brand Advisory Americas, AMS

The coming months are likely to be challenging for all businesses. A global economic slowdown has seen job cuts and hiring pauses forecast – perhaps as a correction to post-pandemic hiring spikes.

At the same time, changing workforce demographics has seen some portions of the talent market drop away. In fact, the percentage of people retiring younger than 65 has grown from 44.5% to 46.7% between 2020-21. Globally, women lost 64 million jobs in 2020, according to the International Labor Organization; more than 7.2 million men of prime working age (25-54) are not in work or even looking for work and women’s labor force participation in the US sits at just 58.1% compared with 70.4% for men.

The Great Resignation, the talent crunch, the ever-widening skills gap – whatever you call it, it’s increasingly difficult for organizations to fill roles and build skills, particularly in heavy growth areas like digital and technology.

Add in the impact of ‘COVID clarity’, where employees are reevaluating the role work plays in their lives, what level of remote or hybrid working is acceptable to them and the desire for more purposeful work, and the relationship between employer and employee is becoming more complex.

As businesses look to navigate economic slowdowns and talent shortages, it can be easy for organizations to turn to layoffs and reduced investment in internal and external employer branding to save money. But are these truly the right tactics to leave their businesses well placed for future success?

Evidence suggests not and according to Harvard Business School professor Sandra J Sucher and research associate Marilyn Morgan Westner short-term savings can have a long-term negative effect.

“Companies continue to cling to the idea that reducing staff will provide the best, fastest, or easiest solution to financial problems,” they write in this Harvard Business Review article.

“I’ve studied layoffs since 2009… the short-term cost savings provided by a layoff are overshadowed by bad publicity, loss of knowledge, weakened engagement, higher voluntary turnover and lower innovation – all of which hurt profits in the long run,” they continue. 

What we’re seeing is potential candidates and existing employees evaluating organizations not just as companies they work for, but more holistically as brands that they might buy from or interact with. Consequently, it has become more important than ever that these organizations communicate effectively with their target audiences across different platforms and mediums. And that means thinking about your employer brand.

Segment your branding

Research shows that three quarters of candidates will research a company’s reputation before applying for a job, with half refusing to work for a company with a bad reputation, regardless of salary increases. Conversely, 87% of candidates will join an organization purely on culture fit.

“The one thing we’ve consistently heard from clients over the past few years is that there has been a significant shift in how candidates think about where work fits into their lives,” says Vangie Sison, head of employer brand advisory Americas at AMS.

“Do I need to go into an office? Should I look for something that puts more importance on family than work itself? I think it’s just the jarring conclusion of the pandemic. But employers need to think about how to best present their brand story to candidates in this new reality. These are very important topics for the value employers provide to candidates and employees, but it’s not resonating with them,” she adds.

Sison says AMS is seeing lots of organizations refreshing their brand stories and thinking about the value propositions they offer to employees. While the external economic environment may be challenging, there is a huge opportunity for employers to focus on development opportunities in the near future. Part of this is creating an authentic and inclusive culture which creates growth opportunities for all talent.

Achieving this requires businesses to personalize development, reward and growth opportunities to different talent populations.

“One thing that has come out of recent years is the importance of a talent segment proposition. For example, take a pharmaceutical company that wants to hire 100 data scientists. That company might not be a brand technology candidates think of at first. But, by tailoring their value proposition to that talent segment, that pharmaceutical company can show future data scientists that there is a place for them in their company, ultimately making them more competitive in the market,” says Sison.

Secondly, companies need to think about where best to tell these stories. What are the channels your candidates use to consume media and interact with each other?

“Everybody’s media consumption has changed. We’re seeing more people using streaming channels and on-demand media. You need to be aware of where your talent segment is interacting and how you can reach them,” says Sison.

 
Growth of branding

The term employer brand was first defined by management consultant Simon Barrow in a 1996 paper in the Journal of Brand Management. In this podcast with Link Humans, he explains how the term has changed over the years.

“In 1985, tangible assets like plant, machinery, buildings and cash formed 56% of corporate assets. Today, that is just 20% of value. So 80% of value is in intangibles, what used to be called ‘good will’. It’s your ability to attract, engage, retain and motivate great people. That’s critical, and it’s what is driving the importance of employer brand thinking,” says Barrow.

He argues that there are three key components of effective employer brand management. First, is to focus on the employment experience itself. How do you rate each touchpoint employees have with your organization? What can be improved?

Second, is to have a board-level sponsor, so that senior management are bought into – and lead on – employer branding strategy.

Employer brand is not brand management

Thirdly, Barrow argues that a distinction needs to be made between employer branding and brand management. Employer branding fails if the reality of the experience doesn’t match the promise. As Barrow says, “you can’t spin your way to an employer brand”.

Sison agrees that authenticity is the key to an effective employer brand.

“As marketers, we can tell a good story. We can sell it. But, if you don’t deliver from an experience perspective, it’s not credible,” she says.

For Sison, the experience a candidate has with a company starts before they even apply for a job. Precise targeting means you’ll already be offering potential hires the right information in the right channels before they see a job advertisement.

From there, it’s about a consistent experience. If the job application page doesn’t provide the experience they want, they won’t finish the application. If their interview with a hiring manager isn’t consistent with the application, they might not take the job. And if their onboarding experience and subsequent job role doesn’t live up to what was promised, they won’t become brand ambassadors – or they might even leave the job.

“The same messaging needs to continue throughout the candidate and employee journey. We can make a brand as sexy as possible, but if the candidate has a bad experience, they will leave,” warns Sison.

Rebuilding and transforming employer brand at LHC Group.

Positive impact included:

  • New career website
  • Employer brand and recruiter toolkit
  • Brand lift

To find out more, read our LHC success story

Healthcare is the largest industry in the US, with almost 14% of the workforce serving this industry. Registered nurses are among the most sought-after talent in the US, and as a result the industry has become creative at finding ways to recruit and train nurses.

Leading healthcare services company LHC Group wanted to redefine itself as the ‘destination of choice’ for healthcare workers, attracting talent who would stay for the long term. It worked with AMS to craft a specialized narrative that spoke directly to the talent they sought in an authentic, relevant way.

AMS helped to hone LHC Group’s brand story by identifying core pillars that supported a new EVP story, alongside a new career website, branding and recruitment toolkit and content marketing strategy. Crucially, AMS helped LHC Group identify the top seven personas of their priority hires, allowing them to target these different segments in personalized ways.

The results include:

  • a 7% increase in social metrics like engagement rates and impressions
  • a 67% increase in Google Ad clicks
  • and lowering cost-per application by 33%

‘‘Thanks to our collaboration with AMS, we have developed a robust EVP strategy that has helped us establish LHC Group as the employer of choice in the healthcare industry,”

Tina Slattery, VP of Talent Acquisition at LHC Group.

written by the Catalyst Editorial Board

with contribution from:

Vangie Sison
Head of Employer Brand Advisory Americas, AMS





The era of fixed job roles, linear promotions and rigid functions is over. Modern workplaces are agile, flexible and able to pivot to new strategies, ideas and challenges to deal with a volatile, changeable environment.

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The rise of
skills-based hiring

Contributors

Jo-Ann Feely
Global Managing Director, Innovation, AMS

The era of fixed job roles, linear promotions and rigid functions is over. Modern workplaces are agile, flexible and able to pivot to new strategies, ideas and challenges to deal with a volatile, changeable environment.

Driven by this new reality – and accelerated by the impact of the pandemic – many organizations are moving away from recruiting on experience and qualification to skills-based hiring for potential and flexibility.

Of course, talent shortages and technological needs are affecting this move too. According to Dell Technologies, more than 85% of jobs that will exist in the next decade haven’t even been invented yet. In the face of such uncertainty, an individual’s past experience is less relevant than the skills they hold and can acquire in the future.

Skills as the new currency

One advocate of the move towards skills-based hiring is LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky.

“Our data shows that roles are being created and displaced at a truly record pace right now. Whatever your role, whatever your company, whatever your industry, you need to keep up with these really quick and big changes that are going on right now,” argued Roslansky in a podcast with Harvard Business Review.

Traditionally, business leaders and hiring managers have focused on past experience, qualifications, universities or personal networks as a way of assessing talent. Not only does this narrow talent pools and lessen diversity, but it also no longer makes sense when the pace of change is so rapid, says Roslanksy.

“If you take the same job role from 2015 to 2022 that existed in the world, roughly 25% of the skills needed for that job will have changed. When the labor market is moving much quicker, we really need something to focus on. I think that alternative, flexible, accessible path is really going to be based on skills,” he adds.

Take a systemic approach

Jo-Ann Feely is global managing director, innovation at AMS. She agrees with Roslansky that organizations are under pressure to find more sustainable ways to deal with talent scarcity.

“I think organizations are being forced to look inwards because they’ve really struggled to fill vacancies in the external market. The speed to digitization, especially post-pandemic, has put a lot of pressure on the skills needed to do roles as almost all organizations became digital ones,” she says.

In order for businesses to move towards skills-based hiring, they need to better understand the skills their current workforce have, alongside the different skills each job role requires.

“There needs to be a systemic approach to understanding skills. To make career mobility effective and skills-based hiring work, you need to understand the primary and secondary skills needed to do each job,” says Feely.

The challenge for business is two-fold. Firstly, they need to have some way of categorizing the skills they require – such as skills taxonomy – which takes time and effort to build and update. Secondly, there needs to be a culture shift in hiring away from instant gratification (i.e. poaching a job-ready employee from a competitor) towards looking to new hires or existing employees with skills adjacent abilities that can be developed through training.

“Skills-based hiring isn’t going to be an organizational, wholesale change. It’s going to take pilots within certain functions or departments, as it’s not an easy thing to effect,” says Feely.

“If you want to identify adjacent skills, you need to understand and map out the skills required for the roles you need. Doing this exercise is time-consuming, but on the positive side it not only increases career mobility, but it also allows for a broader talent pool externally,” she adds.

More inclusive workforces

Increasingly, hiring managers and talent professionals are starting to agree. In the US, major employers like Walmart, Boeing and IBM have signed up to skills-based hiring projects through partnerships with social mobility champions like Rework America Alliance. In Maryland, the local government announced in 2022 that it would no longer require college degrees for 50% of its state jobs.

However, the pace of change is slow. In the previously discussed Harvard Business School podcast, Roslansky described how LinkedIn data saw the potential for food service employees to be retrained as digital customer service workers during the pandemic. According to the data, there is a 70% match between the skills of the two roles. Yet many roles went unfilled and people lost jobs because organizations focused on past experience rather than skills.

“If we had just taken a view on what skills are necessary, who had those skills, how can we help them acquire some skills to become employed, we would’ve found ourselves in a much more efficient labor market. We would have been much more productive,” he said.

When it comes to talent attraction, skills-based hiring is also a better indicator of future success. Studies show that skills-based hiring is five times more predictive of future performance than hiring for education, and 2.5 times more predictive than past work experience.

The rise of skills-based hiring means organizations can better prepare for future challenges, develop internal career mobility and build their employee skill base. It can also lead to a more inclusive, equitable work environment.

“If you take a skills-based approach, you can open a broader talent pool both internally and externally. You can also identify under-represented talent that hasn’t come to the surface before because you’ve always hired a certain profile of person from a certain background or education,” says Feely.

“This approach to hiring broadens the talent pool and makes an organization more inclusive with a more equal playing field. Skills are the new currency. We just need to see organizations embrace it faster,” she adds.

written by the Catalyst Editorial Board

with contribution from:

Jo-Ann Feely
Global Managing Director, Innovation, AMS



An uncertain economic outlook coupled with talent shortages and a demand for rapid growth means talent acquisition teams are under huge pressure.

View the story

The rise of data driven approach to talent

Contributors

Mike Brown
Managing Director, Digital, Tech & Transformation

Risk and return in a data-driven approach to talent

An uncertain economic outlook coupled with talent shortages and a demand for rapid growth means talent acquisition teams are under huge pressure.

At the same time, organizations are increasingly moving towards skills-based hiring and talent management. These twin factors mean businesses are laser-focused on how they can improve their talent acquisition and retention processes – and unlocking organizational data, managing its usage and building insights is key to this.

To combat this, AMS is launching AMS One, a proprietary RPO operating system that enables better, faster and fairer talent acquisition for AMS’s clients.

Data hierarchies

“There are a series of different points in the recruitment process where information about candidates and jobs needs to be acted upon by sourcers, recruiters and administrators,” says Mike Brown, managing director digital, tech and transformation at AMS.

Brown suggests that these points are linked together in a hierarchy, driven by the potential to create value in the recruitment process and the risk associated with what organizations choose to do with data and technology.

The first step is about replacing manual parts in the recruitment process and reducing administration by using data and technology effectively. Artificial intelligence can automate some administrative tasks like form filling, conversation transcriptions and interview booking, but it is the use of data that can truly drive smart hiring.

“At the moment, there are a lot of manual steps in handling recruitment data. This means that candidates don’t all get treated in the same way, that there is an awful lot of administration and less focus on conversations that really drive whether or not people are interested in taking a role,” adds Brown.

The next steps are about using data to gain information and intelligence on candidates during the recruitment process.

“There are two major ways you can use data,” says Brown. “One is as a feedback loop. You have a bunch of screening conversations – what can you learn from them that you can apply at the beginning of the recruitment process? For example, I’ve screened a lot of candidates for data scientist roles, now I have another data scientist role. What have I learned?

“Second is market analysis technology. Our talent strategy tool takes very large data sets and tells you how difficult it will be to hire a person in a particular location or salary bracket. It gives you an idea from the outset of what is possible and whether you’re pricing the role appropriately,” he says.

Such tools can also help you to compare the relative cost of external hiring versus internal mobility, or contingent workforce with in-house recruits.

The final part of Brown’s hierarchy is generative AI, which has been in the headlines recently, mainly through the rise of ChatGPT. The worldwide narrative on this relatively new transformative technology has been confused.  Hailed both as the panacea of productivity while simultaneously having the power to bring down western democracy as we know it, Brown has a far more measured view. He suggests that there are applications for the hiring process, in the main as an aid to human-based decision making. Generative AI can also help with content creation around role descriptions and adverts.

The global talent management software market is a rapidly growing one. Currently worth $9.05bn, it is projected to grow to more than $20bn by 2030. For HR and talent acquisition professionals, technology allows them to become more accountable for their interventions at a time when driving efficiency and business growth is top of the agenda.

According to a Gartner survey of HR leaders, 44% of HR leaders report driving better business outcomes as their number one strategic priority for HR technology transformation over the next three years. Growth in headcount and skills was second (26%) and cost optimization third (17%).

The impact of such technology could be revolutionary. HR thought leader Josh Bersin says “it has the potential to totally reinvent how much of HR works”, with new platforms, vendors and ways of running companies.

In a recent post, he describes several ways generative AI and data-driven insights have the potential to change talent management, ranging from creating content for job descriptions and candidate profiles through to performance management and leadership development.

“Despite the fears and inflammatory headlines, I want you to remember that this technology will be a massive step forward in business. But I would remind you to consider that [technology] is a tool, not a living person. Just a Microsoft Excel was groundbreaking in the early 80s – and there were fears it would put accountants out of business – so this system will become an essential business tool as well. We all have to learn how to use it,” says Bersin.

Brown agrees that talent technology is something to support human decisions, rather than replace them.

“One thing we have chosen to do with AMS One is to not recommend candidate shortlists based on the technology. We use a simpler approach to filter based on skills. We filter CVs, applications and jobs looking to match skills, but human decisions influence the order in which candidates are ranked,” he says.

Doing so allows organizations to ensure data interventions are ethical and help to drive better diversity in recruitment. For example, recruiters can include DEI measures when filtering through candidates. However, the final decision on who makes a shortlist rests with a human.

Measuring effectiveness

Measuring the effectiveness of a data-driven approach to talent depends on your individual requirements. Brown suggests four key areas where this type of technology can deliver value.

First is access to a broader pool of candidates. Historically, employers would have posted job adverts to individual boards online and waited for people to send in their CV or application.  New technology allows talent professionals to search multiple job boards at a time and narrow down that search to identify specific skills. This greatly increases the quality of candidates organizations have to choose from.

Secondly, technology can improve time to hire. By removing inefficiencies and administrative steps in the recruitment process, talent professionals can spend more time on people decisions and less on admin. A good measurement might be seeing an increase in time spent in screening conversations as a percentage of the overall process, says Brown.

Thirdly, mapping similar systems across an organization improves scaling. By having everyone on the same system, organizations can respond to rapid hiring needs in particular areas.

Finally, a data-driven approach to talent can improve information security. Audit logs can show who has accessed what information and when, while records can be deleted in accordance with GDPR requirements.

“I think technology in talent acquisition is generating value in many different ways. The emphasis you place on effectiveness is a personal preference,” says Brown.

AMS One

AMS One is the RPO operating system enabling better, faster, fairer hiring for AMS clients.

The platform improves the end-to-end recruitment process with an emphasis on candidate discovery, screening, and shortlist generation using the latest technologies and industry best practices.

AMS One is connected to a client’s entire talent ecosystem, integrating seamlessly with their existing tech stacks to provide a more flexible path in the adoption of new technologies and solutions, transforming their digital and technology operations. To find out more, or request a demo please contact AMS.

written by the Catalyst Editorial Board

with contribution from:

Mike Brown
Managing Director, Digital, Tech & Transformation