To upskill or not to upskill? – the decidedly un-Shakespearean essential question on the tip of every employers’ tongue in 2022.
“Upskilling” is now understood to be a bulwark against future business and professional decline. It’s firmly established that workers across almost every industry (but especially in a few select sectors) want to unlearn and relearn new, essential skills that will help them continue to earn a good keep and stay in work.
Upskilling and Reskilling have become an acutely personal and business necessity in the wake of the pandemic. Upskilling has, in this context, become a byword for ensuring job security.
- “The pandemic has been an accelerant—speeding up digitization, e-commerce and automation. And as a result, even more people are now exposed to job displacement than before”.
- “Between 400 million and 800 million workers around the world could be displaced by automation by 2030”.
- “A report by the Learning & Work Institute shows that according to 92% of businesses, digital skills are key”.
- “Employers expect that by 2025…85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines, while 97 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms”.
In short, upskilling is mostly desired because the winds of business change are blowing. While much of the focus has been on the worry of employee obsolescence as the driving factor behind the push for new digital skills, there is huge scope for employment opportunities and career growth in new industries and jobs.
However, a word of warning for recruiters who want to use professional L&D as your reskilling USP – a target word for consideration in one of the above quotes is “could be displaced”.
There is no uniform automotive or digital wave of change that will hit each industry at the same time. For some, it’s already occurring. For others, change will be negligible or slow-moving.
Here is where we want to draw a pretty firm line in the ground: “upskilling” as a term, even as an entire HR sub-industry, is an incredibly large arena of business investment. Therefore, the development of your staff cannot be haphazard – it needs to be targeted, affordable, meaningful, and market-relevant.
Above all else, you need to have complete and total employee buy-in: there is no point in accelerating L&D programs if the outcomes don’t help your people.
This, in essence, makes upskilling less of a hard skills development plan, and more of a holistic, cultural awakening.
This is where employers have a unique opportunity. Employers can reframe the meaning and vitality of reskilling in personal, employer-specific ways, and attach reskilling initiatives to business, personal, and societal improvements that mean something to your industry and to your people.
This not only helps your skillset within work but improves your EVP and employer brand and helps give your team a sense of continual value in their development.
So where do we start?
We think it best to focus on the two main pillars of upskilling – what hard skills and what soft skills will most employees absolutely need in the future?
Hard Skills – Digital Skills
This is close to our heart – as Rectec is a digital tool, created expressly to make recruitment CRM and ATS comparisons rapidly available, hyper-relevant and completely digital, we intimately understand the usefulness and power of digital skills and the power of well-curated recruitment tech platforms.
However, our platform can only work with recruiters who understand how ATS efficiencies augment and improve the real job of recruitment – building human relationships and establishing trust between experts in certain fields.
However, we digress – digital skills are the one “hard skill” employees desire and employers require.
- “Workers want more digital skills, more inclusivity, and more flexibility…In one of the largest global surveys of workers (workers want to) learn new digital skills and…quickly adapt to remote work. Yet many people think their job is at risk, and half of all respondents feel they’ve missed out on career opportunities or training due to discrimination” – PwC.
- “For UK employers, reskilling would yield positive economic returns in about three-quarters of cases…more than 90 per cent of the UK workforce will need to be trained” – McKinsey.
Soft Skills – Communication
While hard skills may be the superstructure of future-proofing business, Soft Skills are the underlay, the insulation, the facade and the foundations of making sure those hard skills can be deployed and sustainably used.
According to Pertemps, the most in-demand soft skills for our future of work are:
- Complex problem-solving
- Critical thinking
- People management
- Coordinating with others
- Emotional intelligence
- Judgement and decision-making
- Service orientation
- Cognitive flexibility
In short, empathetic, open communication and flexibility of working approach seem to be the height of soft skill requirements.
Hard and Soft skills complement each other. Considering the iterative, multidisciplinary approach of creating digital tools, communication, problem-solving, and coordination of teamwork are just as important as raw coding skills.
Upskilling is urgently necessary, professionally demanded and essential for business security. But upskilling raw hard skills alone won’t guarantee an effective workforce or future proof business.
There have to be commitments to understanding the essential role soft skills play in your business model. Employers need to understand the importance of confidence-building as workers face the existential threat of obsolescence.
Employers have a window of opportunity to help their people through hard skills upgrade strategies, whilst simultaneously focusing on the long term holistic improvements soft skills development offers both worker and employer.
A quick, responsive process is what you need to attract and engage the best talent.
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