Tomorrow’s workforce: The confluence of AI and skill-centric talent management | HCLTech

Tomorrow’s workforce: The confluence of AI and skill-centric talent management

Quinny Lei, Head of Business IT Solutions at a multinational technology company, explores AI’s role in shaping talent management for a skills-driven future
9 minutes read
Mousume Roy
Mousume Roy
APAC Reporter, HCLTech
9 minutes read
The confluence of AI and skill-centric talent management

Technology is at the heart of every industry's transformation, but the talent management that supports this transformation finds itself at a crossroads. As we step into the future, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in the realm of talent management has taken center stage, reshaping traditional paradigms and ushering in a new era of skill-based talent acquisition and development.

To delve into the dynamics of this transformative landscape, the HCLTech Trends and Insights team sat down with Quinny Lei, Head of Business IT Solutions who shared her insights on the future of skill-based talent and the profound influence of AI on this journey. Lei is a leader at a multinational technology company that is Southeast Asia’s leading super app, that offers a suite of services consisting of deliveries, mobility and financial services.

AI's metamorphosis of talent management

Historically, technological advancements have consistently improved work environments. During the Industrial Revolution, integrating new power sources and modern machines made businesses more productive and efficient. The subsequent waves of automation further expeditated workplace effectiveness. Along the way, however, the use of technologies devalued some traditional skills, resulting in job loss and a demand for new expertise.

Currently, the forefront of the technological revolution is based on emerging technologies such as AI, ML, automation and robotics. These innovations are powering capabilities like smart assistants and image recognition, speeding up manufacturing, and improving human productivity overall. Within this landscape, the impact of AI on talent management emerges as an undeniable and transformative force.

Lei comments: "AI has been a constant force in our history, and it’s now at a pivotal phase in its evolution. This current junction marks a significant step forward, as AI’s capabilities continue to enrich lives. The meticulous groundwork that once required direct involvement of the workforce is progressively being undertaken by generative AI. With this foundational layer established, an opportunity arises for human resources to upskill, redefine approaches and infuse bespoke creativity.”

AI has revolutionized the way organizations identify, assess and nurture talent. Its predictive capabilities help in identifying potential candidates more accurately and efficiently. From personalized job recommendations to analyzing behavioral patterns for cultural fit, AI is driving organizations toward a more streamlined and data-driven recruitment process.

For instance, organizations are shifting from traditional annual performance reviews to continuous feedback loops powered by AI analytics. This real-time assessment ensures that employees receive timely feedback, fostering skill growth and allowing for agile adjustments to organizational needs.

Redefining education for an AI-driven workforce

As we stand at the crossroad of an AI-driven era, the field of education faces various challenges including – bias, ethical issues, abuses of AI systems and ensuring the pace of learning aligns with the rapid evolution of technology. “The question is – how fast can humans cope with GenAI and align it with education, syllabus and system? Our traditional system teaches subjects like math and history but is it preparing us for an AI-driven future,” asks Lei.

The upcoming generation might struggle with generative AI potentially taking over many jobs, leaving new graduates with intern-level positions. “The rapid evolution of AI might outpace traditional education system. To address this, we need to reshape education, harnessing generative AI’s potential to nurture individual talents rather than relying solely on common knowledge. The idea is to take advantage of how generative AI can help the new generation to build that talent within themselves – and unlock individual potential,” states Lei.

Shaping DEI with skill empowerment

The integration of AI is driving remarkable change in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Cultivating DEI is akin to nurturing a rich cultural tapestry. When considering the role of AI in this context, the question emerges: How can AI and human skills complement each other?

Lei affirms that "AI helps eliminate unconscious bias by focusing on skills and potential rather than relying on conventional markers. This opens the door for underrepresented talent, making the workforce more inclusive and diverse. By capitalizing on AI’s strengths, organizations can discern individual potential and craft tailored development paths that unlock untapped abilities."

Skill-based talent management not only mitigates bias but also creates a more level playing field. "Imagine a new recruit uncharted in their career path. Through exploration across departments and insightful AI analysis, an intricate portrait of their capabilities emerges. From pre-boarding, where AI identifies latent potential, to ongoing personalized development plans for the next ninety days. The cycle doesn’t merely follow a predetermined career ladder but revolves around dynamic skill honing,” notes Lei.

The narrative shifts from a job role to self-discovery. A programmer might discover an adeptness for project management through continuous development, supported by AI-generated insights. Performance evaluations and constant feedback become catalysts for role curation. As employees evolve, the organizations evolve with them, endorsing internal mobility and fluid, agile career progressions.

“In the near future, employee retention will be a major challenge, and organizations that fail to align skills with aspirations may find it difficult to unleash their teams’ potential,” continues Lei.

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The shift from job roles to dynamic skillsets

Based on a collaborative whitepaper by HCLTech and Harvard Business Review on the Future of Work, the surge of technology is reshaping the employment ecosystem. Over the past few decades, the manufacturing sector has witnessed a decline in employment, while service-oriented roles have witnessed an increase, as indicated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Consequently, there’s been a surge of 25% in highly skilled positions, yet there remains a deficit of adept professionals to occupy these roles.

The paradigm of talent management is unquestionably shifting from traditional job roles to a skill-based approach. Job roles are confined to specific duties, whereas skill sets transcend those boundaries, encompassing a diverse range of competencies that can be honed over time. Lei reflects: “Possessing a plethora of master’s degrees and PhDs might not necessarily equip an individual with the practical skills required to excel in a job. Skill-based hiring enables individuals with relevant proficiencies, regardless of their formal education, to thrive in roles they are genuinely equipped for.”

Skill-centric talent acquisition will dominate the future job market, and this will accelerate the next generation of learners. A major shift in education is required with the focus moving away from the rigid syllabus to fostering a culture of practical, hands-on learning. This involves experimental approaches, real-world simulations and assignments designed to nurture individual skills rather than standardized exam-based assessments.

Gen Z: Shaping the future of talent management

The entry of Generation Z into the workforce poses unique challenges and opportunities. Lei remarks that "Gen Z is a fully digital generation. They are bold, unafraid to challenge the status quo and seek constant innovation. This dynamism poses challenges in retaining them within traditional roles. Engaging them requires ongoing learning experiences, such as hackathons, gig-like opportunities and transparent growth paths – leveraging generative AI.”

Understanding Gen Z's behavior and motivations is vital for effective talent management strategies. Customizing engagement approaches based on their preferences enhances recruitment and retention efforts.

The future of talent management is undergoing significant transformation, fueled by the integration of AI and skill-based approaches. The insights shared by Quinny Lei shed light on the potential of AI to reshape traditional HR practices, fostering inclusivity, diversity and agility. As the workforce continues to evolve, embracing these technological advancements is essential to remain competitive and relevant in a rapidly changing landscape.

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