Why Skill Inference Alone Falls Short in Today's Competitive Job Market

    Dive into key trends driving modern L&D, the limitations of inferring skills, and the advantages of leveraging verified skills. Discover how digital credentials amplify the impact of verified skills and unlock benefits beyond traditional skills assessment.
    user-circle Credly Team
    hourglass-01 5 min read
    Employees proudly displaying digital badges for skills they have earned

    The skill gap is real: Nearly 90% of global executives say they are now or soon expect to be facing capability gaps in their workforces. That means organizations face mounting pressure to precisely identify skill gaps and then fill them through upskilling, reskilling or new hires.

    Traditionally, most companies relied on skill inferences — the process of deducing what skills employees have based on education, work experience or performance. But with skill needs changing quickly, this approach has significant limitations.

    Fortunately, verified skills based on digital credentials enable employers to objectively design strategic skill development initiatives. Digital credentials that signal verified skills fuel high-impact upskilling and reskilling.

    Key Trends Shaping Modern L&D 

    To truly grasp the evolving needs of employees in today's dynamic work landscape, understanding its key drivers is crucial.

    In a world marked by rapid technological advancements, employees must constantly adapt to new tools and digital platforms. Generative AI is expected to affect 300 million jobs, with Pearson’s research showing that around 30% of white-collar roles could be accomplished by generative AI. Upskilling in areas like data analysis and artificial intelligence has become essential to meet the demands of the digital age. Organizations must cultivate a culture that embraces these changes and supports employees in acquiring the necessary skills to thrive.

    Moreover, soft skills are increasingly valued by both employers and employees, as evident in the latest Pearson reports, like problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork and leadership. These interpersonal abilities are vital for building effective teams and delivering exceptional customer experiences. As organizations prioritize the human element in the workplace, investing in the development of soft skills has become integral for long-term success.

    Additionally, individuals themselves are eager to learn, with a significant majority expecting continuous learning opportunities throughout their careers. With preferences leaning towards employer-provided learning, organizations must adapt to this shift in the skills-learning landscape to ensure a future-proofed workforce.

    Limitations of Inferring Skills

    However, many organizations still lean on workers self-reporting their skills and proficiency levels rather than utilizing more reliable methods for skill validation. This approach becomes problematic, especially considering that only 39% of workers strongly agree they possess a comprehensive understanding of their skills and capabilities. 

    Relying solely on inferred skills without accurately identifying those in need of development and for recruitment can hinder organizational progress.

    • Ambiguity and subjectivity: Skill inferences rely on interpretations of past experiences and qualifications. Misinterpreting someone’s proficiency can lead to assignments beyond their capabilities, which can have serious consequences, especially in highly regulated industries.
    • Lack of context: Inferring skills often overlooks context; skills demonstrated in one context may not translate to another. Understanding context is particularly important for soft skills training.
    • High variability: Non-standardized descriptions make it difficult for employers to accurately compare skills between individuals.
    • Backward-looking information: Job requirements can change quickly. Educational credentials and past experience may not reflect workers’ current skills, making it challenging to know where to upskill and reskill.
    • Lack of transparency: The subjectivity of skills inferences leaves organizations unable to determine the validity and expertise level of reported skills, making it difficult to identify true skill gaps and develop training plans.

    The Advantages of Verified Skills

    Relying solely on résumés and experience can be a gamble. Verified skills, such as through digital badges offer a strong foundation for confident decision-making around professional development. Consider these advantages:

    • Allows objective skill assessment: Verified skills provide an objective measure based on evidence such as certifications and assessments. Employers can then tailor workplace training and development based on concrete data.
    • Future-proofs talent: As job requirements evolve, verified skills ensure your workforce can thrive in a changing environment. This creates a competitive advantage. 
    • Increases efficiency: With verified skills, employers can confidently assign tasks and projects, knowing employees have the required skills. This minimizes the risk of errors and wasted time while increasing productivity.
    • Verifies soft skills: Validated skills extend beyond technical expertise. They include crucial soft skills like communication, teamwork and problem-solving, which are critical for success in a collaborative workplace.
    • Promotes diversity and inclusion: Verified skills reduce the potential for bias in assessing skills and can foster a more diverse workplace. In addition, organizations can reduce the stress associated with job placement mismatches, increasing workplace wellness and employee well-being.

    Digital Credentials: Amplifying the Power of Verified Skills

    Digital credentials are electronic proofs of an individual’s competencies and skills. They contain metadata that allow employers to verify authenticity and learn more about how a skill was learned. 

    Digital badge platforms like Credly offer robust features to verify and manage skills:

    • Skill tagging: Skill tags identify verified skills and make them easier to find in search queries. They show what skills a badge holder demonstrated to earn the credential.
    • Providing metadata: Digital badges contain rich metadata with the content, context and criteria of a credential, along with information about the value to the organization.
    • Enhancing accessibility and portability: With accessible, portable verified credentials, organizations can reduce manual processes and verify skills for new employees.
    • Verifying in real-time: Real-time skill verification allows companies to instantly access updated data to see trends and analyze workforce capabilities.
    • Validation through blockchain: Organizations can enable blockchain validation, making credentials tamper-resistant and difficult to falsify.

    Benefits Beyond Skills Assessment

    Verifying workers’ skills with digital credentials goes beyond improving assessment. These credentials can increase employee engagement through recognition, boosting motivation and employee retention.

    Digital badges are recognition for participating in training, so they encourage continuous learning and development. Plus, they can foster diversity and inclusion, as they reduce bias when assessing qualifications for hiring and advancement.

    Explore further benefits of digital badges in our whitepaper, 'Strategies for Overcoming Challenges in Employee Upskilling and Reskilling'.

    Download whitepaper

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