Why is it important?
We are living in an unprecedented time in which the technology is changing at an exponential phase. World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report predicts that 75 million jobs are expected to be displaced due to automation by 2022. At the same time, 133 million new roles (Fig. 1) will get created to meet the new demands that would emerge due to demographic shifts and economic changes.
The big moment in Devos on 22nd January 2020 was the launch of the Reskilling Revolution, a multi-stakeholder initiative to provide better skills, better jobs, and better education for a billion people by 2030. According to the World Economic Forum, 42% of the core skills required to perform existing jobs will change by 2022. All the working population across the world would require reskilling to manage the demands of the future
What do we need to focus?
While AI, Data Science, Cloud etc are the most popular technical skills, Josh Bersin, a world-known industry analyst says that the skills of the future are now clear and they are not technical. Though there are millions of professionals who need to be reskilled in digital skills, the biggest gaps are in behavioral skills such as complex problem solving, teamwork, business acumen, and leadership because we always focussed on addressing digital skill gaps and ignored soft skills. 2022 skills outlook from the World Economic Forum (Fig 2.) confirms that the growing skills requirement is more of soft skills than the technical skills.
Hence Learning & Development leaders should focus on addressing the skill gaps holistically. While the technical skills would change based on industry, business needs, and the skill gaps of their employees, everyone should focus on addressing gaps in behavioral skills.
Skill-building should be treated like a marathon and not as a sprint. While ad-hoc training might be required to address the current business needs, building capability academies to provide in-depth training is needed for reskilling the existing workforce to build the talent pipeline required for the future. Having understood the why and what of reskilling, let us now discuss how L&D leaders can make the skill development initiatives successful.
How can we make skill development (reskilling, upskilling, and new skilling) initiatives successful?
Based on my experience, I would like to propose 5 tips:
Align the skill development plan with the business priorities
While this looks like a no-brainer, it is very important to have a conversation with business leaders to understand their priorities and prepare the skill development business plan (yes, it is a business plan J) in alignment with the organization’s goals. The skills that we are going to target should be based on both current needs as well as future needs. Getting an agreement with the business leaders on the number of capability academies that we would like to launch, the talent pool that we want to create on various skills, percentage of deployment through internal training, targeted certifications in the domain, technology, and products. would help in making the reskilling initiatives successful.
Collaborate with all stakeholders
While planning the reskilling/upskilling initiatives, it is a best practice to identify all stakeholders and involve them in the planning stage. L&D Leaders should partner with business leaders, Talent Acquisition, Talent supply chain, Talent Management, HR Technology, HR Business partners, HR Operations, Centre of Excellence and practice teams, Internal IT, Admin, and any other stakeholders including external partners. Keeping them updated on the plans and including them in the regular cadence (weekly governance meetings) would help in successful execution of the programs.
Using Technology and AI-based tools across the life cycle of skill development from “planning for reskilling” to “deployment of trained members to projects” would definitely help in the success of reskilling programs
Planning the reskilling calendar based on the forecast of skills required, using Learning Experience platforms (LXP) to train employees, usage of collaboration tools and communities for learning from the peers, integrating learning platforms with Talent supply chain systems (to map the trained employees to open positions), using chatbots to answer basic queries, creating capability academies with the journeys, Augmented and Virtual Reality to create immersive learning are some ways in which we can leverage the technology.
Integrate skill development plans with Talent Management initiatives
It is very important to align our skill development plan with the Talent Management priorities and Initiatives. For example, the end assessment for reskilling to test the readiness of trained members for deployment (“deployment-ready certificate”) should be the same as the one being used for external Talent Acquisition.
Incorporating skill development plan in workforce planning, Skill mapping for various roles (to prepare the workforce for future roles), Competency definition and assessments, Career Progression, Performance, and Rewards (incentives for the acquisition of new skills), Employee Engagement are some examples of how we can align with the broader objective.
Focus on creating “Experiences”
We should constantly aim to create a wonderful learning experience for the learners to get a good NPS (Net Promoter Score) which measures the overall satisfaction and the loyalty of employees to our learning interventions.
At HCL, Every year during the last quarter, we launch a program called “Sixer”, six weeks of technology learning with gamification with 20+ technical tracks in emerging areas. We start with campaigns across various facilities, explain the reskilling program to employees and urge them to register for the program.
Then we communicate the effort it takes for them to complete the program and ask them to choose the technology track and “commit to complete” online…they need to basically “agree”. Then they receive a boarding pass which indicates that they are admitted into the program.
We take them through a journey of fun and learning along with gamification for 6 weeks using WhatsApp and internal facebook like platform. We regularly take the feedback during the program on how they enjoy and publish individual and team scores every week. Finally, we declare the winning team and top 250 scorers and many other awards that are distributed in graduation ceremony.
NPS score of Sixer season 3 which we completed in Jan. 2020 was +94 (+77 in Season 1 and +87 in Season 2) with 3335 employees completing the program successfully across 21 countries.
Building a learning culture of continuous and lifelong learning with “learning to learn” as a focus would help the organizations to not just survive but to thrive in this fast-changing new world of work.