Some leading firms, including Apple and Google, as well as the federal government, are deemphasizing college degrees in favor of hiring people on the strength of their skills.
But Oracle said keeping track of employee skills and skill development in a business can be complicated. Skills aren't easily categorized and change rapidly with business needs.
This week, Oracle announced its Dynamic Skills for Oracle Fusion Cloud HCM users to help. The new tool catalogs the skills of a company's employees but applies intelligence to determine skills gaps.
The tool has three main components:
- Skills Nexus creates a view of a firm's skills using publicly available data, such as from Occupational Information Network (O*Net), to categorize and match skills to job titles. It then continuously updates the information as skills and jobs change.
- Skills Advisor helps managers to find and develop the workers they need. It also works with Oracle Recruiting to connect candidates to jobs and glean inferred skills from job applications.
- Skills Center creates a personal portal for employees, such as recommending a training course or a short-term project to gain experience.
"We want to give the employees the idea that they are in charge of their own destiny," which includes cultivating their own skills, said Emily He, Oracle's senior vice president of the HCM cloud business group.
Oracle views employee skills management as a difficult problem, He said. Companies should create a skills and job titles taxonomy and establish correlations between the two, she said.
But, He said, the Dynamic Skills tool takes employee skills management a step further to make it actionable. Because the system self-updates, skills information is always current as it makes recommendations to managers, employees and job candidates.
Tackling the skills dilemma
Lisa Rowan, an analyst at IDC, said the shift to a focus on skills is "more about the fact that the pace of innovation is changing the needed skill set quickly and constantly."
While other HCM vendors have tackled the skills dilemma, Rowan believes Oracle's tool "is complete in that it offers the management of the data, the tools to acquire skills data both from external and internal sources, and capabilities that employees can use to assess themselves, their skill set and their readiness for the next job."
Trevor White, an analyst at Nucleus Research, said the Oracle Dynamic Skills tool represents a progression from internal skills lists "to the next logical step," which involves dynamically tracking employee skills as well as expanding functionality to suggest where there are gaps and where new hires are needed.
"It's not about filling positions anymore so much as it is about filling skills gaps within the organization," White said.
Patrick Thibodeau covers HCM and ERP technologies. He's worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.