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What technology innovations could be used to better define the skills needed in a future workforce?

What technology innovations could be used to better define the skills needed in a future workforce?

Skills databases, AR/VR and ML-powered coaching networks are among the advancements experts in Protocol's Braintrust could see defining the way future generations work.

Vanessa Colella

Chief Innovation Officer, Head of Citi Ventures & Citi Productivity at Citi Ventures

Our workforce has always been influenced by technology and new innovations, and the current pandemic is highlighting what many of us already knew: We need solutions that fit a modern workforce. The current model is dated, and we need to rethink culture, talent development and the technology that will help enhance the overall professional experience. Skills (not experience) are the key to the future of hiring.

One idea is to develop a transparent, publicly verifiable database that records the skills workers have developed and to what degree they have been mastered. This type of database could help employers identify qualified candidates and help workers highlight their most valuable assets. This would also democratize the hiring process as candidates would be identified based on the actual skills they have acquired.

We've seen a similar innovation like this on LinkedIn, where co-workers and friends can endorse an individual as being proficient in specific skills. Resumes are another example of how employees can go into more detail about past experiences, but they often lack the level of detail needed to paint a nuanced picture.

Creating a modern-day skills profile will leave employees and employers with verifiable information that doesn't get lost when individuals switch jobs or positions. In the same way that athletes have a library of lifetime statistics, this type of database could be incredibly useful in capturing an employee's work in an unbiased manner and enhance their individual market position.

Lila Preston

Partner & Co-Head of Growth Equity at Generation Investment Management

Over the past few decades, we've seen a workforce evolve that is underpinned by inefficiencies. Skills shortages, declining productivity measures, lack of social mobility, and, frankly, inequality are all manifestations of a workforce that is no longer fit for purpose.

We believe technology-driven innovations are paving the way for a workforce that fundamentally resolves these labor market inefficiencies and focuses on workers as key stakeholders. Little did we know that a global pandemic would further accelerate adoption of a more tech-enabled future of work — one where workforces, by necessity, must be more nimble and responsive.

We have invested in several products and services that we believe will facilitate a future of work where knowledge worker productivity is front and center (Asana), where labor supply/demand constraints are resolved through remote and distributed teams (Andela), and where access to benefits and tools to improve worker conditions are democratized by delivering key value to employers and employees alike (Toast and Gusto).

Now in our fifth year of roadmapping this space, we are turning to some of the next waves of tech innovation including AR/VR for upskilling and reskilling, improved platforms for hourly shift workers, tech solutions to boost retirement savings and more.

Jim Shaughnessy

EVP, Corporate Affairs at Workday

New technologies — particularly artificial intelligence and machine learning — were driving dramatic workplace changes before 2020. COVID-19 has accelerated those changes. Accordingly, workers need new skills to succeed in the rapidly transforming world of work. As a leader in cloud applications for human resources, Workday sees skills-based employment practices and secure digital credentials as critical in helping define needed skills and match workers with opportunity.

Skills-based practices require a common skills language. Workday Skills Cloud delivers that language by using machine learning to reduce 200 million+ skills down to 200,000 terms that represent expertise and critical hiring needs. It helps refine job skills data, allowing employers to identify workers with the skills needed for emerging roles, while helping workers understand which skills will support meaningful career advancement.

Verifying skills is critical, but conventional, paper-based credentials aren't a fit for a digital world. Workday Credentials makes demonstrating skills easier through an advanced network of verified credentials, powered by a blockchain-based credentialing platform built on open standards for workforce-wide interoperability. It will allow more efficient skills verification and provide workers more control of employment information.

These innovations can help maximize the long-term potential of the entire workforce and democratize opportunities for all.

Learn more here.

Rachel Carlson

CEO and Co-Founder at Guild Education

The most important way technology can help define the skills needed in a future workforce is by strategically aligning the most important stakeholders: employers, who have the best sense of their evolving needs; workers, who want opportunity and advancement; and educational and training institutions, who can lead on pedagogy, instruction and learning theory.

An example of this is Next Chapter, a product of my company Guild Education, which uses technology to help define for workers what skills they will need in the future of work — but maps the upskilling and reskilling needed to arrive there. Next Chapter is a modern take on outplacement benefits. The way it works is: After a worker loses their job, they answer some straight-forward, gamified questions about their career to date, their interests, as well as their skills, competencies and goals. Our technology maps them to existing job opportunities they'd be eligible for today, including those that might be in other fields or industries but that require a similar skill set.

Next Chapter also determines what skills or training is needed to qualify for certain jobs and connects workers with classes and certificate programs to advance their careers. This all comes with a coach and a human-centric approach to the process.

Taking a step back, another way technology can help define the future of work is simply by removing artificial barriers to education and career mobility. At Guild we focus on meeting our stakeholders where they are — and utilizing a mix of strategy and technology to help them unlock opportunity and move forward.

Evan Marwell

CEO at EducationSuperHighway

Coaching networks leverage machine learning to guide workers toward doing their jobs more effectively in real time. They analyze the interactions of doctors, lawyers, retail employees, data scientists, writers, salespeople and workers everywhere and suggest what people should do next to most successfully serve their patients, clients and customers.

The knowledge gathered by these coaching networks could also be used to help define the skills that people are most well equipped to provide, differentiating between the things machines do best and those that require the unique ability of people to understand context and be creative and empathetic. This could help focus educators and corporations on the types of skill development they need to provide.

See who's who in Protocol's Braintrust. (Updated May 6, 2020)

Questions, comments or suggestions? Email braintrust@protocol.com.

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