March 23, 2022

Vodafone Is Revamping Hiring and Talent Management as It Shifts From Telecom to Tech Company

Ericsson isn’t the only European telecommunications company taking an innovative approach to fulfilling its hiring and reskilling needs.

Vodafone’s another. The British telecom is adding 7,000 software engineers to its European workforce by 2025, “transitioning from a traditional telco provider into a genuine technology company.” Part of the goal is to bring more intellectual property in house, instead of relying on outside suppliers who own the IP.

Techradar says the hiring spree will happen through “a combination of recruitment, reskilling and, insourcing.”

Marc Starfield is Group Head of HR Programmes and Systems for Vodafone. He’s not just setting the stage for the 7,000 to be hired, but leading a transformation of all HR processes across 26 countries. He said in a recent webinar that Vodafone is revamping its whole talent acquisition approach. As an example, it will use AI to “calibrate” roles. Instead of Vodafone relying on job descriptions that may not reflect the skills the company needs going forward, it will find employees based on a set of skills needed for each job. Recruiters and managers will work together to calibrate each position, honing in on what’s really necessary, and just as important, what previously required items are not actually necessary.

Starfield says the company is also spending a lot of time looking at its employee value proposition. He wants people to see Vodafone in a different light, as a cutting-edge high-tech employer. That begins, he says, with “seeing and feeling a digital experience” when candidates go to look for a job at Vodafone. The company has launched a career website where job candidates can drag a CV and have AI match them to a list of opportunities (a process which also improves diversity).

Talent Management, Too

Vodafone is working on more than just hiring. Starfield wants to use advanced AI and machine learning to improve its global workforce planning. The company will have a dashboard of capabilities by department and location. This will help as it thinks about the skills it needs for the future, who in its workforce has the potential to move into new roles it needs to fill, and how Vodafone will add the talent it needs.

“We want to really get to data-driven workforce intelligence,” Starfield says. “Then we’ll use that to understand the skills we need, the skills we have internally, and what we are going to focus on in terms of reskilling, upskilling, and talent attraction.”

Vodafone has “crafted a technical career path to develop the skills of professionals so they can take over senior roles,” according to Techzine, which says Vodafone is trying to achieve a “dramatic digital transformation.”

As part of that transformation, Vodafone is “creating an AI-based “full learning experience platform.” That means replacing and streamlining a wide variety of decentralized HR systems and processes.

To that end, Vodafone is integrating Eightfold AI with a SuccessFactors suite. That means learning at Vodafone will be personalized. Employees will be able to indicate the roles they aspire to. The platform will show them where there’s a gap between their current skills, and any they need to add to get to that next role. And, it will suggest courses and projects for employees to take on to close the gap.

Again, Starfield sees skills being the guiding force behind this personalization of learning. “At the heart of all we’re doing is understanding the skills that will result in the right outcomes, shifting our mindset from people and jobs to skills and to total workforce management,” he says, referring to both contingent and more permanent employment.

This way of rethinking work, from jobs to skills, is taking hold elsewhere. A Mercer leader has published a book called “Work Without Jobs.” And Jason Cerrato, a former Gartner analyst now with Eightfold, says “this whole focus on skills helps organizations understand their workforces through a different lens — focused on the work, rather than the role. Many organizations are already on this journey, and this approach will only grow in the new ways of work.”