Skill-based vs Role-based – What’s the right way forward for Talent Development? 

February 3, 2023


The character of work and the environment in which it is performed are undergoing significant transformations, resulting in corresponding shifts in talent strategy. There is evidence that a few companies are shifting toward a skills-based approach to talent development to address skills gaps by upskilling and reskilling their existing workforces,; building new, future-focused skills,; and tapping into contingent workers for specialized projects or tasks.    

The disruption caused by the pandemic led to a newfound readiness to investigate how work may be redesigned to better accommodate workers’ unique requirements and circumstances. 


Why is talent development the top priority in 2023 

Jobs are changing rapidly; one forecast states that by 2025, fifty percent of all workers will require additional training. It is anticipated that forty percent of the fundamental abilities that workers have today will evolve between now and 2025. Several technological companies, such as IBM, Cisco, and Google, and other significant industry leaders, such as Unilever and Schneider Electric, are among the companies at the forefront of the transition to an approach focused on skills. The issue is that  tech job frameworks may be too restrictive for organizations that operate in skills environments that are either uncertain or fast changing.  

Because of these trends, there is a very real risk of selecting and training individuals for professions that may not exist in the future, or those which are transforming to the degree that is unrecognizable due to the integration of new technologies, automation, and AI-based augmentation.  

These businesses also know that their workers anticipate more flexible jobs and career paths tailored to their specific requirements, areas of interest, and long-term objectives.   

This blog post aims to provide a comprehensive overview of skill-based and role-based talent development and highlight the benefits and limitations of each approach. We will also compare the two methods and provide guidelines for organizations and individuals looking to implement a successful talent development program. This post also aims to provide readers with a clearer understanding of the two approaches and to help them determine the best way forward for their talent development initiatives.  

The right approach to talent development will depend on various factors, including the organization’s goals, the skills and competencies of its employees, and the demands of the industry. By combining a comprehensive understanding of skill-based and role-based talent development with best practices for continuous learning and development, organizations can create a talent development program that is tailored to their specific needs, and one that will support their success in the long term.  


Skill-based vs Role-based Talent development 

  • Skill-Based Talent Development   

Skill-based talent development enhances an individual’s skills and abilities to perform specific tasks or job functions. This approach focuses on developing competencies in leadership, communication, problem-solving, and technical skills. Skill-based talent development aims to prepare employees for new responsibilities, promotions, or transitions to new roles within an organization.  


One of the key benefits of skill-based talent development is that it enables employees to acquire new skills directly relevant to their current roles or to prepare for future roles within the organization. By building competencies in leadership, communication, and problem-solving, employees can become more confident and effective in their current roles and be better equipped to advance in their careers.  

In addition, skill-based talent development programs are often designed to be flexible and customizable, allowing employees to choose the skills and areas of expertise most relevant to their individual career goals and the needs of their organization.  


  • Role-Based Talent Development  

 Role-based talent development prepares individuals for advancement or growth within their current roles by building knowledge, skills, and competencies relevant to their positions. This approach focuses on the responsibilities and duties associated with a particular role within an organization. It is designed to provide employees with a comprehensive understanding of the skills and knowledge required to succeed in their respective roles.  


 One of the key benefits of role-based talent development is that it provides employees with a clear understanding of the expectations and responsibilities associated with their current roles and helps them to identify specific skills and knowledge that they need to acquire to succeed in these roles. This focus on role-specific competencies helps employees understand their roles’ specific requirements and focus their efforts on acquiring the skills and knowledge they need to perform their jobs effectively.  

Another advantage of role-based talent development is that it is often more cost-effective and time-efficient than skill-based talent development. By focusing on the specific needs and requirements of particular roles within an organization, role-based talent development can provide employees with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their current roles without requiring them to acquire additional skills that may not be relevant to their jobs.  


Comparison of Skill-based and Role-based Talent Development   



Despite their differences, skill-based and role-based talent development share some similarities. Both approaches aim to develop employees to meet the organization’s needs by enhancing specific skills and ensuring that they have the necessary competencies for their roles. Both methods can lead to employee growth and satisfaction, improved performance, and increased job stability.  



The main difference between skill-based and role-based talent development is their focus. Skill-based development focuses on developing specific skills that can be applied across multiple roles. In contrast, role-based development focuses on the competencies needed to succeed in a particular role.  



Criteria for Choosing the Right Approach  

Organizations should consider their specific needs and goals when deciding between skill-based and role-based talent development. If the organization requires employees with a specific set of skills, such as in the case of technical or creative industries, then skill-based development may be the better option. On the other hand, if the organization wants to ensure employees have the necessary competencies for their roles, then role-based development may be a better fit.  

Both approaches can be effective in different situations, and organizations may choose to adopt a combination of both methods.  The key is assessing the organization’s and employees’ needs and choosing the best approach to support their goals and objectives.    



Best Practices for Talent Development   

  • Combining Skill-based and Role-based Approaches  

Organizations can reap the benefits of skill-based and role-based talent development by adopting a combined approach. By focusing on individual skills development and role-based competencies, organizations can ensure that their employees have the necessary skills and knowledge to meet the demands of their roles and open-up opportunities for professional growth and advancement.  

  • Emphasizing Continuous Learning and Development  

Continuous learning and development should be at the forefront of any talent development program. This includes providing employees with learning opportunities through on-the-job training, workshops, courses, or attending conferences and events. As such, organizations can ensure that employees are always up to date with the latest industry trends and best practices by focusing on continuous learning and development.  

  • Incorporating Technology and Data-driven Approaches  

Organizations need to incorporate technology and data-driven approaches in their talent development programs in today’s rapidly changing business environment. This includes using data analytics to track employee progress and determine areas for improvement, as well as utilizing technology-based learning platforms to provide employees with access to the latest training and development resources.  


Yaksha is a technologically advanced data-driven assessments platform that provides solutions for specific assessment needs of Talent acquisition, Talent development and Talent transformation departments within organisations.  Yaksha helps you make better talent decisions based on benchmarking, mapping skill gap analysis and competency with its highly customizable role-specific and skill-based assessments, collaborative and project-based assessments with in-depth actionable insights. It never ends here with Yaksha. 



In this blog post, we have discussed the differences between skill-based and role-based talent development, and the best practices for organizations looking to develop their employees. By combining both approaches, emphasizing continuous learning and development, and incorporating technology and data-driven approaches, organizations can provide employees with the support they need to succeed and grow.  

The future of talent development is constantly evolving, and organizations must be agile and adapt to change in order to stay ahead. By ensuring that their employees are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in today’s fast-paced business environment, organizations can stay competitive and achieve long-term growth and success. 

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