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Microsoft targets skills gap with new AI-powered Skills in Viva

Microsoft targets skills gap with new AI-powered Skills in Viva

Skills in Viva becomes the latest addition to Microsoft’s employee experience platform, Viva, with the aim of tackling organisation-wide skills deficits and identifying upskilling opportunities for employees.

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Microsoft has unveiled new AI-powered capabilities for its employee experience platform, Viva, designed to help identify skills gaps within an organisation’s existing workforce and upskill employees.

Called Skills in Viva, the new service pulls information from Microsoft Graph, which provides employee activity signals from across Microsoft 365 applications and services, and combines it with the LinkedIn Skills Graph, which maps the global skills landscape and includes a taxonomy of 39,000 unique skills alongside data on how they relate to each other, to jobs, and to learning content.

With AI reasoning applied on top of this data layer, Skills in Viva can infer an employee’s skills profile and provide Viva customers with an improved understanding of current workforce skills.

According to data from Microsoft’s Work Trend Index report from May, 82% of leaders say their employees need new skills in order to keep up with the rapid advancements in AI and the pace of change and innovation. Furthermore, 60% of workers surveyed said they don’t currently have the right skills or capabilities to get their work done.

A study released in August from job listing site Upwork found that in the first half of 2023, AI was the fastest-growing job category on the site, with generative AI job posts up more than 1000% in the second quarter of this year compared to the end of 2022, while related searches increased more than 1500% in the same time period.

Between 2022 and 2023, the top 10 generative AI-related skills listed in Upwork job seeker profiles included Large Language Model (LLM), generative AI; prompt engineeringChatGPT, AI Chatbot, and AI Text-to-Speech.

“Often, it’s very difficult to understand what is the totality of certain skill sets across an organisation,” said Sunita Khatri, senior director of product marketing, employee experience platform at Microsoft. “What Skills in Viva does… [is help with] strategic workforce planning, so leaders can now start to see breakdowns of top skills. For example, an organisation may have really great skills around machine learning but could be missing the skill set around responsible AI or how to build new AI capabilities.”

Skills in Viva doesn’t require employees to have a LinkedIn profile, nor does it link back to member data. It simply applies an inferencing model across the platform’s skills taxonomy — the LinkedIn Skills Graph. Some of that data is derived from trends found in member data but Skills in Vivia does not directly connect to any specific member information, explained Khatri.

The platform will recommend opportunities to create a learning path for an entire organisation, as well as for specific departments or teams. Furthermore, Skills in Viva will also suggest reskilling opportunities for individual employees.

“Once Skills in Viva has a record of the breadth and depth of your skills, it will start to identify what new skills you should probably be focusing on and provide more AI recommendations of relevant learning content, based on your skill sets and the areas that you're developing,” Khatri said, digging further into how Skills in Vivia will work.

These learning paths could be comprised of LinkedIn Learning courses or those provided by an organisation’s specific learning management system and can be customised so customers can import their own ontology and framework onto the platform.

Skills in Viva will be available in preview to customers who already have the Viva Suite, with general availability of the platform to be announced at a later date.

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