Every organization needs a skilled workforce to compete in the changing technological landscape. However, many organizations are falling behind skill requirements as business evolution continues with employees lacking the right skills.

In the digital environment, companies are upskilling and reskilling¹ to respond to changes and stay ahead of the curve. Technology solutions including #computervision, machine learning, and data science are sweeping across the business world and forcing companies to implement automation to derive value.

Executives according to a McKinseysurvey face skill gaps with most companies lacking strategies to address the problem. The choice between recruitments and internal employee training is becoming obvious for cost reasons. IBM and Amazon are leading efforts in employee reskilling in their latest initiatives for 2020 where employees undergo training programs to make them compatible with the current digital environment².

The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating reskilling and upskilling as companies adapt to the new normal of remote work and coordinating teams. Employees and employers are transforming in the wake of the pandemic and the time is right for a new approach to skill management. The current talent shortage and competition among companies to hire the best brains further complicates the situation and is forcing businesses to develop practical solutions for the widening skills gap³.

Upskilling and Reskilling

The success of any company depends on the skill levels of employees. Management should invest in skill development to deliver value and long-term success.

Let us explore the rationale behind reskilling and upskilling for organizations

1. Performance and Output

Employee performance depends on the skills learned and implemented. Reskilling and upskilling enable the workforce to understand their roles and become innovative. Upskilling employees not only makes them productive but also gives them new ideas in their areas of work.

2. A Culture of Inclusiveness

Most employees are stuck in their career paths because of poor skills and companies that promote reskilling efforts open new pathways for them to climb the ladder. Squarespace¹¹ is an example with the company investing in employee upskilling.

3. Employee Retention

Retention of employees is a problem facing most organizations as they face the skills gap. Some companies chose to recruit new candidates after off-boarding former employees. The problem with this approach is the cost factor and creating a culture of fear that does bode well in the corporate environment. By initiating #reskilling and upskilling efforts, companies retain current employees and incur minimal costs compared to recruitments.

4. Competitiveness

Research conducted by Mckinsey shows that organizations that reskill and upskill their employees become competitive because of meeting industry standards. Digital transformation means that skills are changing faster than ever and calls for training employees to adapt to the new times.

5. Motivated Workforce

Nothing beats a motivated workforce and the same applies to the business world where companies that reskill employees experience high morale that translates to increased productivity. The training programs offered at Apple enable employees to remain motivated because of collaboration from top-level management.

The Skills Gap

Organizations are facing pressure because of the skills gap, which refers to the current skills of employees versus the skills required to boost the success of the organization. The C-Suite⁷ should lead the way when it comes to addressing the skills gap.

For instance, management should evaluate the overall skill sets in the organization and compare them to individual skills. This provides management with a clear picture of their skills situation and enables decision-making.

Here are some benefits of managing the skills gap in the organization:

1. Job Satisfaction

Achieving job satisfaction at the organizational level should start with addressing the skills gap problem as this enables focus on the individual skills of employees.

2. Market Intelligence

Understanding the skills gap assists organizations to understand the current requirements in the market translating to skill development⁸ and better performance.

3. Transitions among Employees

Understanding the skills gap facilitates a smooth transition of skills whenever old employees leave and gives new employees skills to continue with the mission of the organization.

4. Development of Training Programs

Companies that evaluate the current skills gap perform better because of initiating training programs for their employees unlike organizations with no training programs.

Solutions to Skill Gaps

Developing soft skills is the first solution to the widening skills gap in organizations and management should review interpersonal relationships among employees as automation continues. Most often, organizations forget about interpersonal skills as focus shifts to technology and this leads to problems.

Secondly, organizations should influence engagements among employees to create a culture of cooperation and trust. In this way, management understands skill requirements for employees because of open communication channels.

Thirdly, cost reduction is critical in closing the skills gap. The internal upskilling policy at Wework¹² is an example where the company reduced expenditure for new recruitments by training their employees. Employees became educated in the process and allowed Wework to channel resources to important areas.

Best Practices for Skills Strategy Development

Companies in 2020 have no choice but to develop a skills strategy if they have to compete and achieve a better return on investments.

Here are some best practices organizations can follow when developing a skills strategy plan:

1. Learning and Development

Achieving a successful skills strategy means adopting learning and development in the organization where employees learn new skills and continue progressing up the ladder. This creates confidence and promotes greater productivity.

2. Loopholes in Skills System

Every organization struggles in one or two areas of their skills and management should explore such loopholes including lack of training specialists and tools for upskilling employees⁹.

3. Cultural Integration of Skills

Without a strong culture of skill acquisition, all efforts to transform the organization could mean nothing and all comes down to culture. Champion the culture of skills acquisition and encourage employees to communicate for better outcomes.

4. Implications on ROI

Management should assess the influence of skills acquisition on the revenues and profitability of the company to determine the current direction. Evaluation of skills investments is critical in understanding the value of the skill sets in the organization.

The Modern Workplace and Reskilling in 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has forced companies to transform their operations with remote work becoming the norm. No one anticipated this black swan event and through reskilling and #upskilling, companies can learn from this experience and become better moving forward.

#Artificialintelligence, #machinelearning, and advanced analytics imply that companies must evolve and encourage employees to adopt the new trends. Automation¹⁰ is affecting every job sector and without a concrete skills plan, companies face the risk of becoming obsolete in the competitive digital environment.

As the #futureofwork enters, the C-Suite should collaborate with employees and stakeholders across the board to identify skill requirements and harness their power.

Works Cited

¹Upskilling and Reskilling, ²Digital Environment, ³Skills Gap, ⁴Employee Reskilling, ⁵Corporate Environment, ⁶Training Employees, ⁷The C-Suite, ⁸Skill Development, ⁹Upskilling Employees, ¹⁰Automation

Companies Cited

¹¹Squarespace, ¹²Wework