Upskilling: the imperative for assessing, filling and tracking skills gaps for organizational flexibility
Deep fake analyst. Chief digital officer. Driverless car security specialists. These jobs may not be on your company's org chart, but they could be soon.
Jobs are changing significantly and rapidly. To stay competitive, businesses must ensure their employees have the skills needed for the new responsibilities. To do this, companies need to look for skills gaps and develop a process to meet any deficit.
Fluctuations in jobs are now the norm
In recent years, many job responsibilities have changed as companies underwent digital transformations. For the integration of higher level technology to be effective, employees needed to increase their own technological skills. These heightened expectations affected all areas of operation. Sales teams in stores needed to be savvy in using iPads to look up inventory, place orders, and check out customers. Repair workers on service calls used apps on mobile devices to access on-the-spot information about repairs and equipment. Office employees used platforms powered with AI to analyze information and speed processes.
The pandemic made the reliance on technology vital, as many businesses could only operate from afar by using cloud-based technology and platforms. During this time, companies realized they could not delay their conversion to digital. With this sense of urgency, many companies accelerated their digital progress, and what might have taken years to accomplish before took only weeks or months instead.
Even as the pandemic eases, the changes in jobs will continue as technology continues to advance. Consumers will still want retail options of buying online (or through social media sites or mobile apps) and picking up in the store or curbside. Stores will need to maintain the technology and staff to accommodate that. Employees will still want to work remotely-- or have some hybrid that provides flexibility.
Looking at the big picture, The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2025, 85 million jobs may be eliminated because of a shift of labor between people and machines. On the other hand, 97 million new roles may develop that share work between humans, machines, and algorithms. These statistics highlight the potential gap that many companies are likely to face soon.
In addition to this seismic shift in types of jobs, SHRM predicts companies will see a "tsunami" of turnover after the pandemic ends. Even if companies have employees with the skills needed, there's no guarantee that those employees will stay.
As a result of these changes, it's clear that companies must act now to make sure they--and their employees--have the skills needed for the future.
How to ensure your employees are ready for the future
Companies must prepare for potential talent gaps and provide upskilling-- a continuous learning process that incorporates development opportunities and training programs to expand an employee's skills.
But before companies launch into training programs, they must be clear on what they are upskilling for, what talents they already have, and which ones they need.
The first step in upskilling is understanding the organization's mission and direction. HR leaders must work with others in the c-suite to understand the business goals for the next several years. Whether a company focuses on e-commerce capabilities or globalization, or sustainability, it will have different workforce needs.
The next question is whether the company has the infrastructure to go in that direction? (That infrastructure includes technology, organization, and processes.) Then, what jobs are needed to support that infrastructure, and what skills do employees need to perform those jobs successfully. The next critical question: who has those skills? An HCM, like SyncHR, can be an indispensable way to analyze the workforce and highlight this data quickly.
Filling the skills gap
Once you've done a thorough analysis to determine the skills the company lacks, the next part can be even more tricky: figuring out how to acquire those skills. Companies typically look at two options here: grow the skills internally or buy them externally. Growing through upskilling can take time, but if the employee developed the skills in-house, they have the specific training needed. Another benefit of "homegrown" talent is that employee retention increases when companies provide career development.
However, sometimes talent isn't available or can't be developed internally, so companies may acquire needed skills by hiring externally. This helps companies get and use those skills faster, but those skills may still have to be developed to match an internal need. For example, a coder who is knowledgeable in a particular language will still need to know specific nuances of a company's internal programming and workarounds.
When looking for hard-to-find talent, companies may need to broaden their search to include overlooked candidates and those who have adjacent skills. The process repeats itself as companies track their results and periodically reassess to ensure employees have the resources, skills, and support they need to do the job.
As long as jobs keep changing-- and they will, companies will have to make sure employees' skills continue to develop to match the job requirements. Only by anticipating and addressing those skills gaps can organizations have the flexibility and scalability essential to compete and survive.