Capability frameworks: Key to a digitally capable workforce

Tech Leaders NZ is urging New Zealand businesses to adopt capability frameworks as a means to ensuring their workforces are able to adapt to the changes wrought by digital transformation.

It says a capability framework is a way of measuring and managing human resources that puts a focus on continuous learning and future potential.

Tech Leaders NZ has set out its views in an executive discussion paper: How Capability Frameworks can prepare organisations for future challenges. It provides insights from a recent Tech Leaders executive event in Auckland and includes an outline from ASB Bank on its experience creating a capability framework.

The paper says businesses must prepare a future workforce that is highly adaptable, and this means ensuring the infrastructure in place that enables people to upskill on-demand, without major time commitments.

“In order for businesses to manage their future workforce, they need to understand the skills and capability possessed by their current employees so they adapt them to meet their changing needs,” it says.

The paper says organisations today use competency frameworks based on a person's current skills, but says these and can be cumbersome and complicated. Capability frameworks differ in that they are about continuous learning and potential. “Capability frameworks focus on what is someone capable of doing in the future and their ability to get certain outcomes.”

In the paper Kimble Vowless, head of learning at ASB Bank, outlines how ASB is implementing a capability framework. The bank is only at the prototype stage, but Vowless sets out things that need to be considered when building a framework.

“In the case of ASB, their capability framework prototype is a straightforward structure where staff can measure their capability through a simple calculation,” the paper said.

“Tasks are broken down to the basic level of skill required, and then portfolios are created based on the skills and experience required to be successful in that task. People are able to measure themselves against the list of skills required for that role or task, and quite simply, ascertain a percentage which indicates their capability for that task or position. Over time, as people gain additional skills and experience, their suitability percentage will increase.”

The paper concludes that, for ASB, the advantage of adopting a capability framework is that, by simplifying things, it will give the bank the flexibility and agility to keep up with the rate of change.

However, it adds the caveat: “While this is good in theory, the capability framework will need to evolve as quickly as the organisation does in order for it to remain current and useful. This will require resources to maintain the framework.

“Ideally, it will be something that is owned by the employee themselves, rather than something that is centrally managed.”

Tech Leaders NZ says there is a need for education providers to offer quick, online and flexible micro-courses to upskill people who are the already in the workforce.

“While NZQA is working to introduce more micro-credentials into the market, education providers should move rapidly to pilot micro-training that may not need full NZQA credentialing to provide value,” it says.

“It will be incumbent on large organisations to clearly articulate capability development areas needed to provide guidance to education partners.”

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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