In a post pandemic world, skills will become the currency for the future of work. Today’s market sets a premium for niche skills and more so in the tech industry, wherein companies are extensively hiring for acquiring these specialized skill sets. While the tech industry has been booming for a while now, the pandemic has only further reinforced our dependency on digitization. As we progress further into the digital era, it’s likely that more & more businesses will operate solely digitally, thereby increasing the demand for talent in emerging skills.
To meet this challenge, соmраnies need to draft а talent strategy that develорs employees’ сritiсаl digital and соgnitive сараbilities, their sосiаl and emotional skills, and their аdарtаbility and resilience. Develорing this muscle will also strengthen соmраnies for future disruptions. The skilling domain now сleаrly needs а new game рlаn.
What's the Ask Then?
Skills transformation is no longer an option and clearly here to stay. It’s nearly impossible now for an individual to study one subject in school and never again return to the classroom. But the real conundrum is what about 3 – 5 years from now? Skills are becoming redundant at an increasingly faster pace, and recent research indicates that the half-life of certain skills may be as low as < 2.5 years. What then? What does this mean for organizations, especially those that are already operating at an optimum capacity?
To add the cherry on the top (of problems), the nature of jobs is evolving at an unprecedented pace too. This means increasing interdependence of human and technical skills and an uptick on hybrid work is calling for the presence of varied skill sets in an individual. In order to be successful, organisations may not be able churn talent at the same pace as advances in technology, leading to redundancies faster than ever before. Hence, organisations must invest their efforts in creating a self-sustaining ecosystem that drives capability development at scale.
Enabling Employees to Own Their Development
Traditionally, few people within an organization acted as the custodians of development, wherein they decided the capabilities required across the organization & deployed solutions to deliver on them. Today, however, in the hyper personalized world we live in, to successfully achieve skills transformation across the organization, it’s imperative that individuals are empowered to take charge of their own development and equipped with the requisite resources to develop their capabilities.
It's time to deploy mechanisms where employees can identify their own skill-gaps and undertake personalized learning & development solutions to address them in a timely manner. Organizations can focus on leveraging data & analytics to identify patterns and trends, thereby anticipating future talent needs. Recent innovation in skill development allows for this, with online & blended models being integral to the new evolving realities of learning in the post pandemic era. Until a few years back, the number of options that exist today weren't present such as the courses one can pursue alongside everyday work responsibilities.
What does the Future Look Like?
Recent studies by Gallop have shown that Gen Z, which is soon becoming a majority at the workplace, lays a strong emphasis on the provision of learning & development avenues by their employers. The newer generation is aware of this continuous need for reskilling & upskilling themselves and possess a high appetite for consuming digital learning content. Hence, the emphasis on skilling is only going to move up.
However, there is another debate within organizations. This debate is whether they can continue to adopt a “Buy” strategy for acquiring these emerging skill sets on an ongoing basis or should organizations re-focus and invest their efforts towards ‘Building talent’ at scale. Management and different industries will have to mull over this. Build vs Buy will have to strike a balance when it comes to skills. While rampant hiring is one way for organisations to create capabilities, the post COVID world will have to look beyond rampant hiring and invest much heavily to transform and adapt skills, much to create a value proposition for both the employees and organisations.
To summarize, successful companies should be investing heavily in digital reskilling and upskilling for the next 3-5 years with constant evaluation based on industry shifts. The key is to understand what skills transformation looks like for your industry including an ongoing evaluation of skill gaps based on industry shifts, classifying skills as perishable and durable, mapping those required to meet your organizations’ specific goals, and implementing strategies to build them in a continuous manner. The focus for organization’s today should not only be on hiring the best, but also investing in their development.