Recent data from Gartner TalentNeuron has revealed that 33% of the skills needed by businesses three years ago are no longer relevant in the workplace.

In addition, the research found that employees are only applying 54% of the new skills they learn, despite the number of skills required for a single job increasing by ten per cent year-over-year.

In response to the fast-changing skills environment, nearly two-thirds of HR leaders have had to take a reactive approach to address skills needs, which results in employees failing to apply almost half of the new skills they learn.

The survey also found that HR leaders are under pressure from all stakeholders to get ahead of future skills needs. 60% of HR leaders report pressure from the CEO to ensure employees have the skills needed in the future and compared with three years ago, 69% of HR executives report more pressure from employees to provide development opportunities that will prepare them for future roles.

Walsall College, Assistant Principal for Commercial Development James Norris told Prosper, “Businesses cannot afford to fall further behind with their productivity.  Ongoing skills audits must be a priority.”


Unfortunately, predicting and committing to a defined set of future skills leads organisations to focus on the wrong skills. In fact, when HR leaders take a predictive approach to managing shifting skills, employees apply only 37% of the new skills they learn.

James continued, “The college has long believed in an intuitive, dynamic skills approach.  This should be developed collaboratively by employees, managers, industry bodies and training providers.  It should involve working at pace yet, as Covid has proved, a need for flexibility towards the industry environment and its people. 

“A focus on our most essential skills will lead to more confidence in our economic recovery.”

Gartner meanwhile suggested that the solution is doing away with reactive training and instead adopting a ‘dynamic skills’ approach; essentially restructuring HR strategies to sense shifting skills in real-time and encourage more growth in soft skills. This, the research suggested, will prevent major lapses over time by continually reassessing the needs of the organisation.

“Organisations that embrace a dynamic approach to developing skills find that employees are both learning the right skills and extracting the value from those skills in a way they do not within the reactive and predictive approaches,” noted Sari Wilde, Managing Vice President in the Gartner HR practice. “The result is that employees apply 75% of the new skills they learn.”

Gartner found that the dynamic skills approach boosts other key talent outcomes as well, including a 24% improvement in employee performance and a 34% improvement in employees going above and beyond at work.


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