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How the skills revolution is transforming business



How the skills revolution is transforming business 1

By Dina Bayasanova, PhD., Co-Founder & CEO, PitchMe

It’s widely accepted that companies today are undergoing some of the biggest business transformations ever in recent times. In addition to the digital transformation that was already in play, in just this past year the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated existing changes, transforming businesses at scale.

The business transformation brought about in the past year has changed every aspect of the workplace. From where we work (remote locations), how we perform our work (collaboratively, using enterprise software, across time zones) and, perhaps most importantly, the skills needed to perform and remain competitive in today’s economy, have all changed and continue to shift.

It is a fact that upskilling and re-skilling will be vital in the post-Covid economy. According to the World Economic Forum, by 2022, 54% of all employees will require re-skilling and upskilling significantly.

Employers must be prepared for this future by taking a closer look at the entire hiring process from a strategic perspective. They can do so by updating processes and mindsets around hiring. That means looking beyond identifying factors such as race, gender, and age to build a more diverse, multinational and multigenerational workforce. Doing so will allow employers to improve long term success when it comes to hiring the right people and increasing value for business.

The Future of Work is skills-based

In the post-Covid economy, skills will take on an even greater importance. Given the amount of change underway, it’s crucial for companies to evaluate candidates across a broad range of both hard and soft skills, including transferable skills across industries. There is more movement and dynamism in the job market today than ever before, and in order to hire the best candidates, it is important for employers to take a more holistic approach to hiring.

This means evolving our understanding of career shifters. In the past, career shifting was often viewed as a negative, even an indicator of failure. Today, this has changed and career shifting has actually become an indicator of success; it demonstrates a capacity to apply knowledge in new spheres, adaptability, and diversity of experience.

By employing career shifters, the focus is on the skill, rather than the employment history. Furthermore, the integration of a career shifter alongside entry-level candidates is essential for the success of any company because it creates a diverse environment, where many different skills are brought to the table. Diversity of hiring begets diversity of skills, which helps future-proof a company —  a prime driver of why the Future of Work is poised to become skill-based.

Diversity as a pathway to skils

One way in which companies can start taking a broader-minded approach towards skills-based hiring is to recognise that a diverse workforce is able to offer a broader range of skills. Companies shouldn’t look only at hard skills; a candidate’s soft skills can be invaluable to an organisation.

By implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives, companies can harness a wider talent pool and broaders skill set than hiring within a monoculture of, say, only recent graduates from a specific university.

When hiring across demographics, diversity and inclusion become a company’s untapped potential. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, between 2007-2009 while the S&P declined by 35.5%, companies who employed diversity amongst race, gender, sexual orientation and age within their hiring practices posted a 14.4% gain. Clearly, there’s a lot to be gained from making hiring more diverse —  but how can companies effectively do so? By hiring smarter —  and here’s how.

Smarter hiring practices

In addition to the changes taking place in workplaces around the world, the very nature of hiring itself has also changed drastically in the past year. Where at one time, hiring was a lengthy, laborious process conducted in-person, today, sophisticated AI-powered technology is able to help hiring managers make smarter and more efficient hiring decisions, virtually.

Having long been the stalwart of hiring, in 2021, the CV is on its way out. As companies look to bring diversity into the hiring process, it is clear that CVs offer only a two-dimensional approach to hiring that bring with it many pitfalls.

Not only does the CV fail to provide a thorough picture of the candidate, but it also is subject to unconscious bias, which means that companies who only rely on CV-led hiring will fail to tap into the full talent pool.

Fortunately, new HR technologies that remove bias and rely on data to present a deeper, more intelligent look into each candidate are on the rise. Such technologies are beneficial not just because they are efficient, however.

They are also beneficial because they help provide better insights into a candidate’s skills, a more well-rounded macro view of the candidate. Most importantly, they are also beneficial because, by anonymising the initial hiring process, they help to remove unconscious biases that existed when the CV was the beginning and endpoint of hiring.

Spurred into mass adoption by the pandemic (which required virtual, digital hiring solutions) these smarter, data-driven hiring solutions are now here to stay. As we move forward into the “new normal”, the future of work requires a new approach to how companies hire, retain and upskill employees. For starters, yesterday’s hiring practices simply cannot keep pace with the changing nature of work.

Closing the skills gap with a multinational, multigenerational workforce

As mentioned, technology helps with broadening the skills companies look at when hiring, but what about future proofing against unknown-as-yet skills gaps? Again, diversity comes into play here because the aim is not only to hire those who have a diverse range of skills, but those who possess transferable skills that can fortify the workplace for whatever comes next.

One way of doing so is by considering the business case for maintaining both a multinational and multigenerational workforce. As the human lifespan increases, so people are opting to stay in the workforce longer than ever before. According to the OECD, age inclusion is an untapped source for growth: resilience, productivity, market potential, and innovation are all attributes that emerge from a multigenerational workforce, and these attributes are important to the current global economy.

Likewise, a multinational workforce brings different global and cultural perspectives and talents to the table, which are an asset to innovative companies looking to think differently in order to solve complex problems.

Therefore, the skills revolution also reinforces the fact that companies need a new, unbiased way to evaluate candidates, since the most experienced talent pool relies on candidates who offer different perspectives and are able to transfer their professional expertise across sectors. This is why, in the coming decade, leading companies will rely on both multinational and multigenerational integration to build successful teams.

In order to prepare for this shift, and avoid losing the best candidates, companies should continue to adapt their hiring practices related to candidate screening, making sure that the systems implemented to do so are agnostic towards identifying factors including race, gender, nationality and age. Rather, looking at the candidate as a whole —  inclusive of their hard and soft skills —  is far more valuable to the hiring process.

A rapidly changing global economy

While we continue to navigate uncharted waters this year and beyond, one thing is for certain: employers must make every effort to stay competitive by hiring the best candidates using a skills-based approach.

Again, this is where technology that can highlight transferable skills while anonymising factors such as age, race, and gender is helpful. It will ensure that hiring is not only fair but that skills and experience are the driving factors. This way, companies won’t miss out on the best candidates simply due to unconscious bias.

Ultimately, we are seeing our perceptions around what it means to be competitive and upskilling are shifting. Shouldn’t our hiring practices follow suit? In 2021, let’s ditch bias and make hiring smarter.


UK delays review of business rates tax until autumn



UK delays review of business rates tax until autumn 2

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s finance ministry said it would delay publication of its review of business rates – a tax paid by companies based on the value of the property they occupy – until the autumn when the economic outlook should be clearer.

Many companies are demanding reductions in their business rates to help them compete with online retailers.

“Due to the ongoing and wide-ranging impacts of the pandemic and economic uncertainty, the government said the review’s final report would be released later in the year when there is more clarity on the long-term state of the economy and the public finances,” the ministry said.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak has granted a temporary business rates exemption to companies in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors, costing over 10 billion pounds ($14 billion). Sunak is due to announce his next round of support measures for the economy on March 3.

($1 = 0.7152 pounds)

(Writing by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken)

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Discounter Pepco has all of Europe in its sights



Discounter Pepco has all of Europe in its sights 3

By James Davey

LONDON (Reuters) – Pepco Group, which owns British discount retailer Poundland, has targeted 400 store openings across Europe in its 2020-21 financial year as it expands its PEPCO brand beyond central and eastern Europe, its boss said on Friday.

The group opened a net 327 new stores in its 2019-20 year, taking the total to 3,021 in 15 countries. The PEPCO brand entered western Europe for the first time with openings in Italy and it plans its first foray into Spain in April or May.

Chief Executive Andy Bond said its five stores in Italy have traded “super well” so far.

“That’s given us a lot of confidence that we can now start building PEPCO into western Europe and that expands our market opportunity from roughly 100 million people (in central and eastern Europe) to roughly 500 million people,” he told Reuters.

To further illustrate the brand’s potential he noted that the group has more than 1,000 PEPCO shops in Poland, which has a significantly smaller population and gross domestic product than Italy or Spain.

The company, which also owns the Dealz brand in Europe but does not trade online, has already opened more than 100 of the targeted 400 new stores this financial year.

Pepco Group is part of South African conglomerate Steinhoff, which is still battling the fallout of a 2017 accounting scandal.

Since 2019 Steinhoff and its creditors have been evaluating a range of strategic options for Pepco Group, including a potential public listing, private equity sale or trade sale.

That process was delayed by the pandemic, but Steinhoff said last month that it had resumed.

“The business will be up for sale at the right time. It’s a case of when, rather than if,” said Bond, a former boss of British supermarket chain Asda.

Pepco Group on Friday reported a 31% drop in full-year core earnings, citing temporary coronavirus-related store closures.

Underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were 229 million euros ($277 million) for the year to Sept. 30, against 331 million euros the previous year.

Sales rose 3% to 3.5 billion euros, reflecting new store openings.

($1 = 0.8279 euros)

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by David Goodman)

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Fashion-focused livery launch reveals new colours for Gasly, Tsunoda in 2021



Fashion-focused livery launch reveals new colours for Gasly, Tsunoda in 2021 4

Scuderia AlphaTauri debuted their colours for the 2021 Formula 1 season as drivers Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda unveiled the team’s new look with the livery for their AT02 racecars. The setting was a fashion-forward launch in the all-new showroom of AlphaTauri, Red Bull’s premium fashion brand.

Salzburg (AUSTRIA) – Formula 1 team Scuderia AlphaTauri served up a stylish preview of the new F1 season with a presentation of its 2021 livery alongside key looks from the upcoming Autumn/Winter 2021 collection of Red Bull’s premium fashion brand, AlphaTauri. The launch – held at AlphaTauri’s new showroom in Salzburg, Austria and presented digitally – marked the first time that drivers Pierre Gasly of France and Yuki Tsunoda of Japan have appeared together as teammates.

After a successful first season racing in AlphaTauri colours, the Italian outfit is looking to challenge the top of the ultra-competitive midfield in 2021, and the two young drivers have been assigned clear-cut roles. Gasly is Team Leader. The 25-year-old, who made his Formula One debut with the team in 2017 under its former name, Scuderia Toro Rosso, has earned two F1 podiums. During the 2020 campaign, Gasly’s maiden win at Monza was a defining moment for him and the team under its new name.

Tsunoda, 20, is the first Japanese driver to race in F1 since 2014, his promotion coming off the back of a fast, four-season trajectory from winning the 2018 F4 Japanese Championship and finishing third in the 2020 FIA F2 Championship to entering the top-level ranks this year. Expectations are high for his rapid style of learning to complement the experience of Gasly.

“The decision to go for Pierre and Yuki in 2021 was taken because Scuderia AlphaTauri’s philosophy is still to give talented young drivers from the Red Bull Junior Program the opportunity to step up to F1 and to educate them – this is why Yuki now gets his chance,” explained Team Principal Franz Tost. “With Pierre on Yuki’s side we have an experienced driver, who can help our Japanese rookie to develop faster, but at the same time we can aim for good results. I think this pair is the best possible scenario to achieve both our targets, and I’m also confident this will be a successful one.”

In 2020, Scuderia AlphaTauri won best livery by a landslide, and the team’s all-new, matte blue and white racecar livery took center stage with the drivers at the fashion event, anticipating the 2021 model that will debut at pre-season testing in Bahrain on 12 March. The test is the precursor to an unprecedented 23-race schedule, and in preparation for the demanding calendar both drivers have spent time at Red Bull’s Athlete Performance Center for intense fitness testing.

“I’m ready to take on the role of team leader. Yuki is a very quick driver, and he will help us move the team forward – we will work together to achieve that,” said Gasly, the team’s all-time top points scorer. “I really believe last year was the team’s best in terms of the way it worked, the development, the performance and the way it managed the race weekends. I’m always hungry for more, and I’m sure we can achieve great things in 2021.”

Tsunoda, who was honored with the Anthoine Hubert Award for best Formula 2 rookie in 2020, added, “I’ve been lucky enough to spend some time with Scuderia AlphaTauri ahead of the season, so I’m already developing strong relationships and learning a lot from them – including Pierre, who is an incredible talent. My main goal is to learn quickly and deliver results as soon as possible, and I’m really excited to get started.”

The launch at the AlphaTauri Showroom not only gave Gasly and Tsunoda a preview of the AlphaTauri Autumn/Winter 2021 fashion collection, but the drivers had the chance to select their new off-grid looks ahead of the season start.

Ahmet Mercan, CEO AlphaTauri, summarized: “This is a triple reveal at a unique point of time: a new AlphaTauri Showroom where fashion meets F1, a first look at the AW21 AlphaTauri collection and the unveiling of the new Scuderia AlphaTauri F1 livery and driver pairing.”

Scuderia AlphaTauri fans don’t have long to wait for racing action: The FIA Formula 1 season kicks off at the Bahrain Test on 12-14 March, in preparation for the Bahrain Grand Prix on 28 March.

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