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A New Pillar of Workforce Planning | Dave Zielinski

Lisa O’Brien wasn’t satisfied with having to use spreadsheets or other manual processes to track and update the skills of the workforce at Unum, the employee benefits provider where she works as director of global human resource information systems. For Unum’s leaders to make better-informed decisions about how to recruit and develop employees to meet the changing needs of the business, O’Brien knew the company needed a more automated, real-time inventory of the skills Unum employees have so it could identify and close any glaring gaps. 

For help, O’Brien turned to skills intelligence software, a new breed of technology that automates the collection, organization, updating and analysis of workforce skills, typically featuring a skills taxonomy as a core element. The scalable technology is increasingly used by companies adopting a skills-based talent management approach, through which they hire and promote workers based more on their verifiable skills than on traditional credentials, such as educational degrees or job histories. Talent acquisition experts see a “skills-first” approach like this as a way to democratize the recruitment and promotion process, as well as to broaden the talent pools available for hiring.

“The software allows us to access a relational library of machine-learning-curated skills that’s far more extensive and robust than what we would have been able to build and maintain on our own,” O’Brien says, in reference to the “skills…

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