5 steps for successfully reskilling your employees for the future of work

5 steps for successfully reskilling your employees for the future of work

Reskilling is perhaps the most underrated talent strategy that is being potentially overlooked by many organisations, and there are five key steps they should follow in order to meet their talent needs through to 2025 and beyond, writes Alec Bashinsky

The global talent landscape continues to change rapidly, with a continued increase in organisations adopting AI, cognitive technologies, robotic processes and other Industry 4.0 tech – which all require reskilling of existing workforces. It is now well documented that workers of the future will spend more time on activities that machines are less capable of performing, such as managing people, applying expertise, creative endeavours and communicating with others.

Global talent research by Josh Bersin has found that jobs are rapidly shifting to services and not labour, and this has been a trend now in the USA for more than 10 years. However, as I meet with many Australian organisations, I see two key trends emerging:

1. The lack of understanding and preparedness for digital disruption in HR, especially in relation to the introduction of AI

2. The total lack of awareness of the need to reskill their existing workforce ie; “we’ll just go out and get the new skillsets we need in the market.”

There is also a significant change occurring in the skillsets required for the future of work, where we are changing from depth and breadth (ie possessing deep functional expertise) to more of a combination of deep business and digital literacy. This is where organisation need to be looking to reskill their employees for the future, together with enhancing digital expertise.

At the same time, there are new jobs being created, which have not traditionally been seen in the marketplace. These include machine learning engineers, data scientists, full stack engineers and even “chief listening officers” to manage social risks.

“I’m seeing many gaps in the lack of digital understanding and skills from executive teams and boards who are having trouble keeping up with digital disruption in their respective markets”

It is also well documented that birth rates are continuing to fall globally, which researchers say will have a huge impact on decreasing available talent pools, both now and into the future. There is a compelling argument that organisations need to accelerate the reskilling of their employees now in order to combat the inevitable shortage of talent as we head into 2025 and beyond.

It isn’t possible to protect jobs impacted by technology, but organisations have a responsibility to their people. Contrary to popular thinking, employees are ready to embrace the new digital reality and are not unwilling to be reskilled.

5 steps for reskilling for the future
Australian organisations need to embrace reskilling of their employees as a top priority on their talent agenda, otherwise they may find huge gaps in their workforce needs by 2025. In order to do this successfully, organisations need to take the following five steps:

  1. Firstly, look at roles/jobs which can be performed utilising digital technology. In my experience these initially are the transactional roles, but then move into more analytical roles.
  2. Then look at a reskilling process for those impacted, including assessing employees for including their existing skill sets in the areas of collaboration, critical thinking, communications, cultural fluency and change management. My experience and global research indicate that these are the new skills of the future, and employees and future candidates who can demonstrate higher cognitive skills, creativity and the ability to process complex information, together with adaptability and likeability, can expect greater success throughout their careers.
  3. Next, look at job roles remaining and where parts can be automated and what parts can then be reshaped into new roles.
  4. Most importantly, develop and provide in-house, interactive and continuous retraining in concepts such as design thinking, digital understanding and changing workplaces as part of your ongoing 2025 strategy.
  5. Finally, develop a digital leader program for your senior leaders/executives to educate and enhance their own understanding and skillsets. This is an area commonly overlooked by HR leaders, and I’m seeing many gaps in the lack of digital understanding and skills from executive teams and boards who are having trouble keeping up with digital disruption in their respective markets.

“Organisations need to start now with fundamental digital training to equip this workforce with an understanding of what is to come”

Workforce demographics by the numbers
The participation rate of older workers in the workforce in developed countries is increasing. In the US, for example, Millennials now make up the largest percentage of the labour force (35 per cent), compared to Generation X (33 per cent) and Baby Boomers (25 per cent), with labour force participation rates of older people increasing.

People are living longer, creating a need to continue to work to finance increased longevity and retirement. This talent pool will have a significant impact on workforces of the future and employees who are in jobs that are being replaced by automation and AI actually do want to be retrained – but organisations need to start now with fundamental digital training to equip this workforce with an understanding of what is to come.

Reskilling is perhaps the most underrated talent strategy that is being potentially overlooked by many organisations as they seek to adapt to the constantly disrupted talent/future of work global marketplace.

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