While reading an industry report recently, I was intrigued by the challenges that today’s increasingly digital workspaces are creating. Perhaps the biggest of these is making sure people have the skills they need to adapt and perform successfully in this rapidly changing environment.
According to a recent World Economic Forum report, more than half of employees will require significant reskilling and upskilling in just three years.
As well as equipping people with technical capabilities, there’s a pressing need for more traditional soft skills like listening skills, attention to detail and communication.
And although the prospect of keeping up might feel a little daunting, it actually creates a huge opportunity for Learning and Development teams.
Why? Because overwhelmingly, organisations would prefer to upskill and reskill their current workforce than recruit new talent. Respondents – that is, business leaders – to Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends survey noted ‘reskilling the workforce’ among their top three priorities, resulting in higher spending on reskilling programmes and expanding L&D teams.
For L&D professionals, it’s reassuring to see employers place improving the skills of current employees above recruiting new talent.
Here are my top three reasons why upskilling and reskilling are crucial for L&D:
1. Alignment with the C Suite
Potential skills shortages among the current workforce is an issue that keeps CEOs up at night: 79% of CEOs regularly worry about their workforce’s existing skills.
This is good news for L&D teams. You can be the voice of reassurance to senior leaders by creating a compelling case for reskilling and upskilling initiatives that prepare people for the future world of work.
You can then take ownership of reskilling, showing your value to stakeholders by developing a plan that outlines how you’ll drive the initiative.
This is your chance to seize the initiative, elevating L&D as a proactive change agent within the business.
2. Engage existing employees
Getting – and keeping – existing employees on board with the direction of the company is about far more than offering a decent benefits package. Offering them opportunities to improve their skills, and ultimately become better equipped to perform their jobs successfully, will go much further in retaining them for the longer term.
After all, 70% of employees claim they’re not as confident as they could be that they have mastered the skills they need for their job.
And as we see the average age of the workforce gradually creep up thanks to increasing retirement ages and longer lifespans, the more significant the need to reskill will become. It’s these more experienced employees who would really benefit from reskilling.
Often thought of as the most difficult generation to engage, older employees can be reached with compelling messages around reskilling – it’s up to you to show them how you’ll be preparing them for the uncertain future world of work.
3. Attract future talent (if you still need to recruit!)
It’s not just long-standing employees who will take an interest in reskilling and upskilling, but younger generations too.
This includes those who’ve not even joined your company yet.
In a recent survey of college and university students, ‘growth opportunities’ was ranked as number one on their list of job search priorities.
So, as you’ll probably still need to recruit during times of transformation, having a dedicated reskilling programme in place will give you a key source of success stories to use in your recruitment process. You can use this to show prospective employees how it’s boosting your current employees’ careers – and how it can do the same for theirs if they join your organisation.
The area of soft skills could be a strong one to target. Younger generations often leave university lacking the soft skills necessary to be adequately prepared for the workforce – something that employers are keen to address.
Do this, and you’ll effectively be tackling two birds with one stone, winning over stakeholders and prospective talent alike.
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L&D have a big task ahead to prepare for upskilling, reskilling and an increasing demand for soft skills.
Discover how to identify soft skills gaps and prepare a learning strategy with our whitepaper, ‘Preparing for the rise of the soft skill’.
Kerry Pascall, Head of Digital Learning, Bray Leino Learning
In my series of blogs you can expect some tips on implementing eLearning, what to consider when commissioning eLearning, design tips, software and authoring pros and cons, and general advice on everything eLearning!