The changing skills landscape – How are businesses responding?
Cheryl Allen, HR Director – Culture & Transformation
Cheryl is a HR future thinker, with lots of energy, passion and opinions on HR and the future of work. She is experienced across the full spectrum of HR & across a variety of industries including IT, government, utilities and healthcare. As a strategic thinker, she is able to influence senior stakeholders to drive change and positively impact business performance. Cheryl is currently leading the agenda of transformation, HR analytics & automation, diversity & inclusion and employee engagement in the UK and Ireland.
The Atos story: future-proofing our people
To navigate our increasingly digital society, it is crucial that we build the skills we need by equipping people with the right tools to thrive and succeed. This means ensuring that we can identify which skills are necessary and understand how best to support people to acquire those skills and be fit for the future.
As we slowly begin to exit the pandemic, that has put huge pressure on the economy and left many people displaced, having lost their jobs and careers, we need to ‘build back’; however, whilst for some businesses there may be a return to previous ways of working, for many others the crisis will fundamentally change the demand for their products and services, which in turn will have an impact on the people and skills they require.
With some roles disappearing and others being reshaped, there is a risk that many people will not possess the skills needed for the new era. If we fail to address this challenge, we risk negatively impacting communities and impeding a bounce back of the economy. Whilst this challenge is not new, what we do see is that the COVID-19 crisis has instilled a new sense of urgency; we need businesses to act to forge the skills of their current and future workforces.
Atos’ Future Fit programme
At Atos, the Future Fit programme goes some way to address this challenge. It aims to ensure the business cultivates the right skills and capabilities to meet the changing demands of current and future clients. Future Fit stems from our commitment to future-proof our people’s careers and support our employees through an unprecedented period of change by equipping them with the intelligence and abilities that aid growth in business.
The programme is aligned to our ‘Internal First’ hiring approach, which encourages skill enhancement and development for our employees, resulting in the long-term retention of our people and internal knowledge which is vital to deliver a sustainable business.
Future Fit was devised to foster a learning culture within Atos; to build a flexible workforce that we can leverage with agility; to meet priorities and develop our people so they can deliver excellence; and to provide clear learning paths with interventions designed to enable our people to plan how to move into new and exciting growth areas.
Conceiving Future Fit
During the initial planning and development phase, we identified our heritage skills landscape and compared this to our future skill demand requirements. We also established a clear correlation between the future demand requirements and our sales pipeline. This resulted in clear identification of skill decline areas and shortages, prompting a proactive re-skilling of our people into growth areas such as digital emerging skills and technologies.
We introduced new supporting initiatives to employees such as the ‘Career Development Centre’ and the ‘Hands Up’ programme to manage heritage and surplus skills and to support the day-to-day operational needs of the business. Our people were matched to roles with the aim of driving optimisation, creating an agile workforce and avoiding restructuring. A career support service was also launched to assist our people in developing their internal careers and provide advice and guidance on a range of topics including CV writing and interview techniques, along with access to career coaching sessions.
We also carried out external market research to help shape our change programme. This highlighted the rapid speed of change in the marketplace and demonstrated why, as a business, it is important to continually transform, and further strengthened our determination to launch Future Fit with a focus on investing in our people.
The programme is one example of the role businesses play in supporting people and the economy to bounce back. Skills transformation is more crucial than ever and taking action to address it has never been so important.
HR Director – Transformation