Optimizing skills management in companies

May 17, 2024

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In a constantly evolving professional context, mastering skills is a major challenge for companies seeking to strengthen their competitiveness and secure their future. Let's explore skills management from different angles: from the need to define a common framework, through the challenges linked to skills assessment, to the crucial contribution of technologies in the implementation of effective assessment strategies.

Optimizing skills management in companies

Defining skills: good use of a framework

According to the interministerial dictionary, “Skills results from a combination of knowledge, know-how and interpersonal skills, mobilized to act in an appropriate manner, faced with a given professional situation. It is assessable. » Let us repeat: “skills are assessable”. The French State wanted to add this requirement to its very definition, thus placing evaluation at the heart of skills management. However, skills assessment is a rich and complex subject, which requires a real methodology.

Before trying to assess a skill, it must be defined precisely, and in a way shared by everyone. The same word, the same nomenclature defining a skill, must cover exactly the same thing whoever the interlocutor is, whatever the company. It is the purpose of the skills framework, and, in France, it is the role of the National directory of professional certifications, to establish this shared dictionary, at least within a professional branch. Evaluable skills are to HR what units of measurement are to engineering: an absolutely essential common language.

We generally adopt an analytical and hierarchical approach, with skill blocks, made up of a set of skills, themselves broken down into abilities. And we can validate a skill by validating each capacity that constitutes it. This structured approach provides a framework and visibility for all stakeholders (employees, hierarchy, HR), skills mastered as well as those remaining to be acquired. Furthermore, the crossing of this reference framework with a profession reference framework makes it possible to precisely identify the path to follow from a mobility perspective.

A diploma can establish certain skills, especially for beginners, recent graduates. But the vast majority of skills are acquired gradually, in working conditions. A CV ultimately says very little about the skills a person has mastered: if they have held a position for 3 years, what skills does they really have? How will she be able to report this and provide proof of it during a future application or career change? This is the whole purpose of skills assessment, and the subsequent skills certification.

Measure and assess skills

A skill can and must be measured, because we cannot be satisfied with more-or-less-skills, with almost-skills. Many professions absolutely require concretely mastered skills, unless they expose employees and companies to major physical, legal, economic or environmental risks. To which we can add the risk, more latent, but very real, of lower performance, lower productivity, lower quality.

But measuring skills is not simple, and requires a methodical, structured, global and analytical approach, processes, and incidentally tools. Indeed, not all skills are measurable through tests. Many require the judgment of an authorized third party, expert, evaluator as well as a real situation. The evaluation system must therefore articulate various validations, by tests or by the assessment of an evaluator.

Behavioral skills, or “soft skills”, hold a special place, and must be integrated into the framework and the evaluation process. Because they are more transversal, more lasting and they often condition the exercise of other skills. Their quantified evaluation is more complex, but it is not impossible.

The framework will have precisely defined the skills, grouped into blocks; it also defines the evaluation methods: how skills are validated, what activities are to be carried out, what questions are to be asked, the rating scale and the expected score. A way for those involved in the evaluation to play their role in a consistent manner and ensure stable calibration over time.

A digital platform is essential for such an approach organized over the long term and requiring the coordinated intervention of numerous actors: employees, trainers, evaluators, managers. The platform must integrate the repository, implement the different validation methods, give visibility to each actor, produce updated skills booklets. An Excel sheet will not be suitable!

Some organizations approach skills validation in a less holistic manner. Whether it concerns chemical risks, pharmacovigilance, or GDPR, it is often possible to create a single test (with around fifty questions for sufficient coverage and reliable measurement), which assesses the level of mastery of such or such skill. And we can widely deploy this type of test in an organization in order to regularly ensure that everyone can carry out their job without risk. It is an elementary approach, which suits many of our clients, and which does not fall under what we call skills management: it does not require a framework, no shared definition, and a fairly simple system.

Technology to put assessment at the heart of training

Whether structured on the basis of a framework, or approached in a unitary manner, skills assessment is one of the key components of the professional training system. First, it is the basis of the skills assessment, which will take stock of achievements and gaps, and therefore of training needs according to the targeted courses. Evaluation is the starting point of any training action. It is also formative, it is not only a measurement tool, but also a very effective learning engine. Finally, when it is summative, it establishes and quantifies the achievement of the training objectives, it demonstrates the added value of the actions undertaken, it motivates the learners.

It is this vision of the central role of evaluation which is at the origin of the ExperQuiz platform, a Learning and Assessment Solution, that is to say a solution which offers all the functionalities expected of an LMS, but by placing a particular focus on evaluation, and therefore by covering this issue more completely than an ordinary LMS, particularly in adaptive learning approaches, where assessment is decisive.

However, some of our clients already had an LMS, which they mainly used to deploy e-learning modules, modules in which evaluation often plays a minor role. When the importance of skills management, evaluation and certification becomes apparent, these companies complete their system with an LAS solution such as ExperQuiz. With modern solutions, SSO (single sign-on) and APIs (data exchange between applications), the coordination of tools in a “best of breed” approach is quite easy to implement. However, in the majority of cases, ExperQuiz's functionalities can cover all needs.

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