What do talent acquisition, learning and development have in common? More than you think.
In the technology industry, skills assessment is often seen as a testing tool. They are a way to find out if job candidates have the skills needed to succeed in the position they are applying for and, if done correctly, can give a deep insight into how they approach the problem.
But skills assessment is useful outside the hiring process. It is also an important part of skills acquisition and a key element of effective learning and development (L&D). In fact, appraisal is one place where talent acquisition and L&D intersect.
Why L&D is more important than ever
The technical industry is moving fast. The launch scene shows no signs of slowing down, millennial workers are moving to work more often than past generations, and there are constant changes in the way companies create and manage products and software.
The company may hire someone based on the skills they need at the time, but those needs may not meet the challenges of working in the future. The skills needed by software developers to perform well are constantly being invented. The most popular coding structures and languages today were developed less than ten years ago. L&D, therefore, is crucial for employees ’ability to stay relevant – and for companies to realize the full potential of their workforce.
Assess skills at the top of the funnel and beyond
Assessments that fairly and objectively measure a candidate’s abilities at a given point in time are an effective method of predicting capacity that eliminates the bias of the interviewer and the candidate. Great technical skill is not innate; it comes with practice and iteration. If candidates demonstrate the discipline needed to acquire and hone skills over time – and to “learn to learn” – this is a good sign that they will apply the same dexterity training for future challenges.
We have not yet reached, but the gold standard in hiring will be the ability to objectively measure a candidate’s progress over time. If you can measure changes in abilities, you can see how a skill set has evolved over time, and assign a quantifiable percentage of skill growth. Assessing a candidate’s current skill level along with these growth rates will be a reliable predictor of his or her future.
How can we start towards this future? Moving on to a model in which the candidate has his or her own data and progress reports over time. Take, for example, an English language exam. If the candidate has his or her historical data from the first and second exam cases, this change in performance may be an indicator of future growth potential. This approach also allows employees to be the manager of their own data and development.
The future of learning and development
Despite their importance, learning and development are often not perfect. In their 2019 report, “How the Workforce Learns,” Degreed and Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning found that the average net promoter score for L&D is -25. In the worst case, L&D is solely about compliance. In these cases, companies offer on-demand training without worrying about whether or not their employees will get anything out of it. Even in companies that care about offering valuable L&D, employers often do not know whether their employees are learning or mastering skills.
To keep up with the ever-changing nature of the technology industry, L&D must combine content delivery with skill-based learning, customizable assessments, and real-time practice. Instead of simply assessing skills at the talent acquisition stage, companies need objective ways to measure how employee skills have evolved over the years.
A data-driven L&D approach allows for data-driven promotion cycles – good for both employees and employers. Data management is important when acquiring talent, but the key to transformation is focused on how we measure talent, whether at the talent acquisition stage or at the development stage.