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TALiNT Partners hosted a dinner for TA leaders in Paris to discuss the challenges driving creativity and growth.

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Long-term forecasts predict steady employment growth for over 10 years to come.
Every organisation represented confirmed they have introduced skills-based hiring.
TA teams must be able to use strong market intelligence to guide management thinking.

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On Tuesday 28th November, Debra Sparshott from TALiNT Partners hosted a dinner in Paris for talent acquisition leaders across France, co-hosted by Tom van den Houte, Strategic Account Director for Eightfold.

In the stunning Lancaster Hotel, delegates from a host of prestigious French employers discussed some of the exciting initiatives they are driving through to secure the workforce their organisation needs for 2024 and beyond.

We opened with insight on how national, regional, and global events have impacted employment in France in 2023. After reaching an all-time high in Q1, employment levels have fallen each quarter, yet long-term forecasts predict steady growth for over 10 years to come, with high-skill, non-manual jobs set to make up over half of this increase.

For TA leaders, skill shortages and increasing labour costs are making delivery against business demand difficult.  Competition for skills has raised candidate expectations across high-skilled talent segments, in terms of both salary and benefits, workplace flexibility and personal development.

 

Yet these challenges are driving creativity and increased collaboration between talent acquisition teams and business leaders. Although there were differences in maturity, every organisation represented confirmed they have introduced skills-based hiring. This uptake is greater than we have witnessed in any other global region. Does this mean the challenge of hiring and retaining skilled talent is even more pressing in France and is driving this shift to focus on skills rather than experience?

Some are moving away from experience-based criteria for specific roles, whilst others have removed resumés from their screening process almost entirely; “betting on the human, not the C.V.” was the message. Others are still tied to legacy hiring practices – for now!

The drivers to skills-based hiring goes beyond skills shortages, considering how the relevance and lifespan of many skills is reducing, perhaps only holding their value for 4 or 5 years. The long-term trend, as with many developed nations, is that France’s workforce is ageing. Many of these older workers have skills which are being phased out as new ones are created to replace them. A skills-based demand plan significantly increases employer ability to retain and re-skill these valuable employees.

Beside the potential hiring manager hurdle, TA team capability was seen as a critical dependency. Not only does skills-based hiring alter the attraction approach and candidate application criteria, but also requires recruiters to isolate soft skills and recognise adjacent capabilities through specific assessments and broader interview content. Training and upskilling of the TA team are being treated as central in change programmes, but there is recognition that effective partnering to bring the business on the transformation journey requires both strong relationship management skills and specific, relevant insight.

 

TA teams must be able to use strong market intelligence to guide management thinking, support new routes to talent, and a communicate a new brand narrative in the French market. 

This raised a contentious question; who should own the redefinition of roles in the transition to a skills-based workforce? HR and TA leaders are frequently the force behind the change. Yet, the majority felt strongly, that only the business leaders had sufficient expertise to translate experience-based role profiles into skills-based ones, particularly as the transition will ultimately filter through to internal promotions, re-skilling, and development. The prospect of transformation is daunting but to ensure that both present and future skill requirements are included, the group saw TA in an enabling role with the business taking the lead.

Tom van den Houte from Eightfold shared how organisations are using technology to increase visibility of existing employee skills, using automation and data mapping through hiring, onboarding and personal development to track skill utilisation and development pathways. By starting with understanding the talent they already have, they can increase smart re-deployment from obsolete roles to new ones, whilst also building intelligence on their skill strengths and gaps.

However, business leaders are not psychologists; in the absence of having a resident specialist, there was concern that the bias-removal of “no-C.V. hiring” might be replaced by the subjectivity of “gut feeling”. In theory, skills-based hiring should rule out education or employment bias, but if the list of skills is not objectively reviewed, it could reinforce existing inequalities.

It is early days for skills-based hiring, so understanding the best way to measure impact is still aspirational. Attendees felt that increasing role fulfilment would be a great start and would strengthen business support. Beyond this were ambitions to increase retention of older workers through re-skilling or redeployment, strengthen workforce inclusivity, and build internal insight to support greater opportunity for skilled talent at any age and from any background.

The passion of each guest and their enthusiasm for driving change within their organisations made this a very special evening and great to hear French organisations could be leading the global charge.

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