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Why maintain skills when AI can do it all for you?

"AI gives employees the power to drive their own career development," explains MHR's research director

Skills-based talent management is more than just a concept. With AI it can become a reality, with far-reaching impacts for HR.

Let me first deal with the elephant in that title – AI. To me, it’s grown into a huge and very unhelpful buzzword. So big that it blinds us to what’s actually possible using this technology. Because it can really transform the way we work. So what can we actually do with AI, as opposed to the magical and mythical way it’s sometimes presented? What are the realities of AI for HR?

I’d like to focus in this piece on the impact AI can make on skills-based talent management. Right now talent management systems tend to be time-consuming to maintain, and as a result are often out-of-date and inaccurate. At a time when we are moving towards giving employees greater and greater autonomy, not least in the management of their own career paths and skills development, this is a definite break on enabling that to happen. If we genuinely want to put more power into the hands of our people, then we really need to find ways to enhance the process and in turn engage those employees in that very process.

How do we do this? Yes, you’re right – AI.

AI as enabler

As I have said, AI is about tools to help HR deliver better outcomes. In this case the tool is large language models (LLMs). LLMs are excellent at looking at human text and content, then extracting from that key words and phrases. It will search through to identify the important information in the most unstructured data: in this case, searching through the HR and training records which have been inputted by managers and employees.

It can then build a picture of skills and experiences, creating a template or, as I like to put it, a ‘fuzzy shape’ of the employees and roles within your business, and the skills sets needed for employees to thrive in those positions. Should a role become vacant, or if a new role needs to be created, rather than trawling through the records, LLMs can immediately match the skills required for that position with the existing skills and similar ‘fuzzy shapes’ of employees within the data. In short, it can instantly provide a key to enable you to unlock the talent within your own organisation.

Not only does it speed the process, but it gives employees the power to drive their own career development, enhancing that autonomy which we know is a welcome demonstration of how much the organisation values their skills and talents – and their commitment to further enhancing those skills and talents.

This isn’t some pie-in-the-sky, ‘jam tomorrow’ technology. MHR is working to utilise just this kind of AI toolbox right now. It’s another demonstration of how, when we free it from its magical, buzzwordy shackles, the AI toolbox is open and ready to make a significant difference to the way we manage and unlock the talent we already have within our organisations.

Hannah Jeacock is research director for MHR

To find out more about the full range of tools and technologies available right now through MHR’s People First HR software platform – and even book a free demo – click here.