Skills development: finding the right path for sustained success

Harry Gooding, Director, Hays Enterprise Technology Practice - UK and Ireland

Accelerated by events in the last couple of years, roles requiring expertise now outnumber the current talent pool, and with this gap has come the demand for skills development. Digital skills in particular have become increasingly necessary across almost all industries, and it’s a trend that we can expect to see continue in the future.

We recently published the Learning Mindset Report 2022, which explored employers’ and workers’ approaches to upskilling. Our study revealed that only 48% of workers felt the learning resources supplied by their organisation were suited to their needs.

In the latest of our Tech Founders series, I met Paul Izbicki, Founder and CEO of Skillseeker. Based in Sydney, Australia, Paul used an analogy I really enjoyed, to describe what Skillseeker do. Their products are like “Google Maps for capability development”, using automation to identify where workers’ skills gaps lie (their current location), before recommending suitable learning materials (to get them to their destination).

Skillseeker isn’t Paul’s first venture into the world of entrepreneurship, but it’s where he’s married his passion for skills development with technology. He points out that, coming from a sales background as opposed to a tech one, his priority has been to discover what the customer wants, and then build the product to suit those needs. Skillseeker actually started with a manual prototype but, as more organisations requested an automated model, Paul realised he was onto something.

When it comes to skills development, less can sometimes be more

It’s easier than ever to find learning resources, especially as on-demand courses become more popular. In fact, going back to the Learning Mindset Report 2022, just 17% of the workers surveyed claimed that they were unable to find suitable materials.

Simultaneously, for those of us whose employers do offer support, it’s not always easy to obtain the knowledge you need in an efficient manner. During our conversation, Paul used his Google Maps analogy to explain: “In a lot of corporations, leaders know where they want to be and where their people need to be in order to achieve what they need. The problem is that they’ve no idea where their people are currently”.

Knowing that you need to learn new skills is one thing; knowing what to learn to reach your destination is another thing entirely. As a result, Paul continues, we’re being “inundated with learning”, when in reality not everything is relevant.

It’s here that Paul used another expression that I loved: “Most organisations in online learning are focused on measuring how much learning people do, but when you start speaking to people, they’re over the amount of learning they need to do. This is about how little learning you can do.”

Everybody benefits from learning new skills the right way

Skills development isn’t a one-off event. Continuous learning is necessary for the workforce (in fact, 86% of respondents in our report labelled it as ‘Extremely Important’ or ‘Very Important’ to them). At Hays, we’re not just focusing on filling roles today, but more and more about the skills of tomorrow. Instead of just placing talent, we’re training people and preparing them to bridge future skills gaps too. Organisations are then able to find the right talented individuals to meet their needs.

To borrow Paul’s analogy, it’s so helpful to properly understand that journey and be able to re-route it at any time, and I’m glad to see that he’s making such big strides with Skillseeker.

To hear more insights from Paul, as well as his experiences of being a tech founder, you can watch the event back in full here.


Harry Gooding
Director, Hays National Technology - UK&I

Harry works across Hays' Enterprise Technology Practice and supporting new initiatives around skills development. After beginning his career in recruitment, he then worked in VC backed start-ups and scale-ups for six years across two different portfolios before joining Hays.