Organizations that know the value of continuous learning are taking a more strategic approach to the learning needs of employees and providing opportunities for skills development. The challenge is approaching skills development methodically with a focus on learning and development opportunities that prepare employees for the future of work (which is now). In order to stay competitive and attract and retain talent, organizations will need to continue to rethink how employees learn and identify and build new capability maps that make room for the unknowns, or face obsolescence.
On average, skill sets have a shelf life of less than five years. This makes continuous learning and ongoing development non-negotiable. In fact, our brains are wired for ongoing and new learning. New modalities make learning accessible and change expectations about what’s possible. High on the priority list for employees are opportunities that provide continuous and applicable learning and career development pathways that offer growth and fulfillment in a new world of work.
Reskilling and Upskilling: Keep Pace With Change
Inclusive growth calls for building trust, instilling ownership and mutual accountability across the organization, as well as partnering with employees in efforts to reskill and upskill to keep up with the pace of change. Workforce preparedness in the “new work order” is a strategic imperative for both organizations and employees, and potential internal and external talent. According to a 2018 research report by the Association of Talent Development, “Upskilling and Reskilling: Turning Disruption and Change Into New Capabilities,” 44 percent of organizations do not provide any type of learning opportunities to upskill or reskill. This is coupled with the World Economic Forum prediction that employees will need an average of 101 days of reskilling and upskilling in the period leading up to 2022. Emerging skill gaps and skill mismatches will continue to be a threat to short- and long-term organizational growth, especially as automation and AI continue full-speed ahead.
The fastest growing economies around the world have figured out that commitment to workforce learning and skill development is important to growth. They are also heavily investing in human capital development of their future workforce, outpacing countries not focused on systematic change. It is not just learning in general, but agile, active learning that is key.
The Future of Work Includes ‘Human’ Skills
Equipping employees/learners in organizations with agile capabilities is crucial to our workforce preparedness and competitive advantage and is a business concern across the globe. Organizations are also being challenged to define purpose and societal impact outside of profits, shifting the focus to human capital and “human” skills such as critical thinking, creativity, flexibility, problem-solving and emotional intelligence. While employees within organizations desire learning at the point of need, they are increasingly distracted with little time to commit to learning and ongoing self-assessment, particularly if it’s not woven into the fabric of the organization.
Existing tools, performance indicators, assessments and so on will need to be redesigned to assess the degree to which current structures and systems meet emerging and future needs. New models and tools are being developed to assist organizations.
According to the July 2019 McKinsey & Co. report on the future of work in America, every organization will need to play a role in providing training and continuous learning opportunities for employees. This includes the government, nonprofits and other education providers and industry associations. L&D professionals within all sectors are poised to lead the way.