By Maria Leggett
COVID-19 forced everyone to experience what a rapid pivot required. The crisis gave visibility to the discrepancies between current and future skill sets of employees and the momentous task ahead preparing for the future of work. According to a recent McKinsey report, pre-COVID, 59% of company leaders prioritized building skill proficiencies. Post-COVID, that number changed to 78% of leaders who recognize talent capability is critical to their long-term growth.
The impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) has been closing in over the years. Advances in technology and organizational transformations are already creating changes in customer needs, business models and market performance. Different capabilities are needed to adapt and address this rapid change, and future roles will require highly specialized competencies that many employees do not have.Progressive organizations are preparing for quick acceleration through employee upskilling and reskilling.
Upskilling refers to improving skills or expanding abilities within the same job. Reskilling is learning new skills for a different job field. Both require strategic planning and agility, strengthening the role of training and continuous learning, and keen insights into the talent pipeline. Reskilling is a broader societal issue when workers’ skills become obsolete due to advancements in technology. Only through partnerships with academic institutions, government agencies and corporations can workers be reskilled and redeployed successfully.
Responsibility for training employees, however, lies with companies. With the half-life of skills continuing to shrink, organizations need to have high demand skills to remain competitive. Besides, training current employees rather than replacing them costs 20% less than outside hiring and supports employee engagement and retention.
Developing bench strength, however, requires more than training. Forward-thinking organizations are preparing for transformation in three areas: assessing and predicting the skills needed, prioritizing new technology and processes needed to be agile and future-ready, and adapting to changes through coaching, training and support.