7 Reasons to Use Validated Skill Development

Discover how skill validation can help organizations create more agile training programs by making it easier to assess, develop and validate skills.

Skills gaps are at an all-time high. It’s estimated that in the next few years, 85 million jobs will be left unfilled because of skills shortages and result in about $8.5 trillion in lost revenue.

When skills gaps are identified, the traditional remedy is to provide training. But how does the organization (and the individuals themselves) know what’s being taught is being understood and can be properly applied in a live environment on the job?

Let’s up the stakes: what if you can’t easily identify the skill gap? The solution cannot be more cookie-cutter, generic training, hoping you fill the skills gap by sheer knowledge overload. Nobody has time for that.

Training for the sake of training isn’t the answer, it must have the purpose of targeting a specific business need. It must be tailorable to your environment. It must be adaptive. The traditional paths of skill development still play a critical role in the skilling lifecycle, but in the era of digital skills that are rapidly evolving and causing tomorrow’s next disruption, organizations need to find a way to assess, develop and validate digital skills.

That’s where skills validation comes in.

What is validated skill development?

Validated skill development (also called “validated learning” or “skill validation”) involves verifying that people can correctly apply what they’ve learned from a training course/class in a safe environment before they’re on the job. Skill validation comes from Instructor/subject matter expert oversight or through tools such as scored labs or performance testing. By coupling traditional upskilling with validated practice, organizations realize a number of benefits—from closing performance gaps to improving learner engagement and confidence.

Read more about what is validated skills development.

Here’s seven reasons to use skill validation in closing skill gaps and increasing peoples' confidence and performance.

1. Identify more acutely where skills gaps are lurking.

According to the Association of Talent Development, 83% of businesses report a skills gap within their organization; yet consulting firm McKinsey reports that only 28% of organizations are making effective decisions to close these gaps. One of the biggest hurdles to closing skills gaps is a lack of visibility into the existing skills of the workforce (McKinsey reports that less than half of surveyed respondents have a clear sense of employees’ current skills).

Validated skills development provides much needed visibility into employees’ current skills. For example, Skillable Challenges, which put learners in an outcome-based experiential learning environment where they must complete real on-the-job scenarios by applying their learned skills, provide scored results and a breakdown of users’ activity. The data from these reports can be combined in a data analysis tool to provide learning and develop leaders with a comprehensive picture of teams’ existing skills. This enables them to identify where skills gaps are happening and take proactive steps to close them.


2. Improve training/learning across the enterprise.

How organizations track and determine if training programs are properly upskilling a workforce is changing. You can’t rely solely on attendance—or completion-based training metrics. With digital transformations in full force, an ill-prepared individual can disrupt an entire organization with a few clicks of a mouse. Now, the new measurement of success is identifying if learners are understanding and properly applying what they’ve learned. The data gathered through the different means of validating skills by validated learning tools helps to measure the effectiveness of training content and more accurately determine how much of the material is being absorbed.

For example, a high-quality validated skills development solution can measure a learner’s response time which can help gage learners’ level of engagement with training programs. Or Instructors can track response times to determine the complexity of learning modules. If learners are taking too long to complete questions, it could be an indicator that a particular lesson needs to be broken down further. Surveys can also gage overall learner satisfaction and indicate engagement with both content and the way it’s delivered. This can help determine which delivery methods are most effective or if adjustments need to be made.


3. Improve the screening process for identifying candidates’ technical skills.

Despite the significant amount of time, resources and budget organizations invest on hiring people, bad hires still happen. According to Forbes, as much as 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions. Quality of hire is still a huge challenge for talent acquisition teams, so having candidates demonstrate their skills can help to accelerate the screening process.

Hiring assessments that incorporate skill validation helps recruiters, HR staff and hiring managers identify the people with must-have skills for specific positions. The approach verifies that candidates’ skills match what’s on their resume and reduces the likelihood of bad hires based on skill, so they can focus on soft skills and culture fit. It’s more about the “quality of the hire” than “time to hire.”


4. Increases organizational agility to identify and build targeted skills.

Approximately 90% of CEOs believe they’re facing disruptive change; of that group, 70% say they do not have the skills needed to adapt to new disruptions. Essentially, this means that only 30% of organizations have the ability to quickly change processes, technology and staff to respond to change. A critical part of providing businesses with the agility needed to respond to change can be provided by validated skill development.

According to Gartner, nearly 60% of the workforce needs reskilling or upskilling to better perform in their roles. Validated learning maximizes reskilling/upskilling efforts by highlighting where additional training is needed, enabling learners to better target areas needing improvement.

Additionally, the data that’s now being created and tracked can provide L&D leaders or Instructional designers the intel to develop and deploy new training programs as well as adjust current courses and learning paths. This ultimately results in more agile upskilling programs that equip learners to be more prescriptive with their skills development—a necessity in today’s rapidly changing world.

An example of how a cybersecurity company uses skill validation to improve employee agility and job readiness.

Comtech and their CyberStronger team leveraged validated skills development with Skillable Challenges to accelerate how they address evolving best practices in cybersecurity. The organization was able to quickly create and deploy hands-on labs that decreased time-to-knowledge and application. This resulted in more agile employees who are ready to respond to the latest cybersecurity threats. Additionally, Comtech was able to cut training development time in half as Skillable Challenges can be updated to reflect current skilling needs in a matter of minutes.

Cybersecurity is such a fast-moving industry and if you're not always trying to learn and innovate, you're going to fall behind. We're constantly creating new labs and trailblazing content for the training industry and cybersecurity."

5. Creates an opportunity for real-time feedback and tailored instruction.

According to market research Wakefield Research, 90% of employees want superiors to address performance mistakes or development opportunities in real-time. Why? The approach promotes ongoing learning, drives goal progress and increases employee engagement and performance. Essentially, the approach aligns individuals, their manager and their company on the value of their contributions as well as to help drive proper skill development in the pursuit of both organization and professional goals.

High-quality validated skills development tools have real-time feedback built directly into the tool. At the completion of the hands-on lab, it can be automatically scored and provide feedback to the learner.

If it’s in an environment where an Instructor is present, like with Skillable’s “over-the-shoulder” feature, Instructors can monitory user activity in real-time. Should a learner have trouble or need additional guidance, Instructors can immediately jump in and provide a personalized experience.


6. Improves learner engagement and confidence.

A recent Gallup report found that 51% of employees are disengaged at work and an additional 13% are actively disengaged. And while 13% at first glance may seem like a low percentage of disengaged employees, here’s why you should take note:

  • It’s the highest it has been since Gallup began measuring engagement in 2000
  • It doesn’t identify WHO is disengaged. If you’re top employees are the ones disengaged, that’s recipe for severe disruption.

One of the ways to improving employee engagement and confidence is ensuring you have appropriate opportunities for professional development and the ability to vet that new skills can be applied properly. By incorporate validated learning, there’s less guessing that people have the skills. There’s also the boosts in employee confidence because they’ve proven to both the organization and themselves they can do it properly.


7. Improves skill retention and skill recall.

The human brain forgets things very quickly. According to the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve, memory retention is at 100% at the time material is first presented. It drops rapidly to 40% after a few days and drops to just 10% after a week. This ultimately means that learners may forget most training in the span of a seven days. In a corporate setting, this can result in employees who are not prepared or have a false confidence to properly perform their work.

To boost learning retention rates, experts recommend using a mix of training methods, including hands-on activities, scored assessments, microlearning and more. Validated skills development encapsulates each of these, enabling Instructors to create and publish training materials that are highly engaging, highly adaptable and provide capstone-type experiences help learners identify strengths and weaknesses.

For example, our hands-on Skillable Challenges augment instructor-led and on-demand courses that many organizations rely on to build technology skills. This is critical because the hands-on time in traditional courses is typically limited and of narrow scope. We provide hours of additional hands-on learning time where learners are tasked with performing numerous task-based challenges. Many challenges offer three levels of difficulty—beginner, advanced, expert/capstone. So, a learner can learn the material being taught in the course and then practice applying in the Challenges.

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