Along with The Great Resignation, organizations are facing yet another challenge-the skills gap conundrum. The shift towards digitisation and automation has distended the skills gap further forcing businesses to innovate their capability-building approaches in the new world of work. Close to 70 per cent of employers globally are struggling to find skilled workers, especially in high-demand areas like operations and logistics, manufacturing and production, IT, sales, and marketing, according to a study by ManpowerGroup.
On one hand, employees are forced to learn new skills to augment business transformations and grow their careers. On the other hand, this widening skills gap is one of the top challenges facing global leaders today. How are they fixing this gap? In an exclusive interaction with us, Jayati Roy, Director HR at Barco shared with us her skill transformation equation to prepare for the future.
Skill-building amid the continuing uncertainty comes with a lot of blockades. What are some of the challenges that you foresee in today’s environment?
The pandemic has brought with it several changes; the primary change is around the use of technology and hybrid working possibilities. These changes in work content and process has compelled employees to consistently upskill and, at times, even reskill themselves to remain relevant in the new world order. At Barco, we have empowered employees with skill building programmes and upskilling opportunities over the last couple of years.
However, there have been several challenges that have come in the way of upskilling of employees, the primary challenge that we faced was ill health of employees during the pandemic, leaving them with no time to upskill and reskill themselves. This time has also taken a toll on their mental and emotional well being and hence upskilling suddenly wasn’t the top priority for most people including the company – employee and their families’ safety took priority.
Additionally, there is a plethora of options suddenly available, which often leads to confusion in the minds of the employees – instead of upskilling systematically they seem to be collecting a lot of certificates that may or may not be handy in the future.
Therefore there is a need to bring method back to this chaos that is currently prevalent in the skill building community.
Learner engagement is the top area of improvement for virtual training in 2021, according to a study. How can organizations abate burnout from learning and improve engagement?
Organisations which are performing well in the new normal are united by a few core attributes and these include flexibility, agility, speed, connectivity, thrift and security. In the fast evolving and deeply challenging new normal, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to enhancing virtual training but there are some steps which can be taken to increase engagement and abate burnout caused by learning.
At Barco, we have adopted a hybrid work approach to ensure employee safety and maintain productivity at the same time. Along with creating a conducive learning environment, we continuously strive to ensure that the basic culture blocks of Barco are incorporated into learning – how we think with our (internal) customers and provide them the best platform and how we team up to learn from each other globally take the lead for our learning intervention.
We organise workshops, peer learning sessions, bring in industry experts/ thought leaders and participate in industry forums to ensure higher levels of engagement and learning opportunities are provided to employees. This ensures that our employees don’t feel burnt out instead they experience an enjoyable learning process.
Aligning the skills that workers want to imbibe in the post-pandemic world with the most in-demand skills is huge in itself. How can organizations fast-track the skilling process and gauge the effectiveness of your learning programs?
The post-pandemic world has opened up a host of opportunities for employees and employers alike. The employees are now free to choose between hybrid working options and even new age models such as gig work and contractual roles. This transformation in the workstyle has led to employees being keen on imbibing skills that make them better poised to reap the benefits of the new normal.
Employers, on the other hand can now customise and deliver programs in a digital manner and across different groups – spread across geographies. At Barco, learning occurs for leadership, behavioural and technical skills. Be it skills on empathetic leadership, strong team focus or software development and cloud infrastructure – employees can develop themselves according to their need. To fast-track the skilling process and gauge the effectiveness of our learning programs, we utilise blended learning modules and personalised programs across different groups of employees.
The effectiveness of the learning program has been seen with the improved engagement level, improved skill levels and enhanced productivity at work.
How do you conduct the gap analysis of business needs and individual aspirations in a hyper-personalised learning culture?
At Barco, we are focused on enabling our employees to be the best possible versions of themselves. It is our aim to empower our staff efficient virtual trainings and mentorship programmes. We offer employees the opportunity to grow within the company, at a global level. With a state-of-the-art research centre and a focus on R&D and software capabilities, Barco is the best place for budding and experienced talent. Barco is always engaged in enhancing the experiences of our employees.
Considering the hyper-personalised learning culture and the variety of channels available, we conduct frequent gap analyses to ensure that our employees are performing at optimal potential. To understand and analyse the divide between business needs and individual aspirations, we follow a multi-step approach beginning with a thorough assessment of business realities and internal talent availability and try and build capabilities in accordance with individual aspirations and business needs through our Talent Review (succession planning) exercise. We also work on Individual Development Plans to ensure that individual development needs are identified, and personalised interventions are conducted.
What will be your advice to fix the larger skills gap to prepare for the future?
While the skill gap was becoming apparent in the past too, the sudden uptake of technology across different organisations has made upskilling and quick adoption of digital skills imperative.
Given our recent experience with the pandemic and the possibility of sudden change in work content and approach, I would recommend keeping learning and continuous upskilling on the priority list of all organisations. Without letting any ball drop here, organisations need to keep reinventing themselves and enabling their employees to keep learning.
As the external talent market gets narrower and to optimally utilize domain expertise without losing out on new age skills, organisations can keep mining existing resources for hidden and leverage-able talent, applying technology and analytics to identify quick learners and skilled individuals, reassessing and redesigning existing workstyles, and offering digital and virtual learning modules.
On a macro level, skill gap can be better addressed by building corporate-educational partnerships aimed at skilling individuals from the inception stage.
This makes them more industry ready and empowers them to adapt to the varying work cultures. High quality internships and on-the-job trainings can also bridge the skill gap in a significant way. We need to prioritize life and work skills, along with teaching students the pre-decided curriculum to enable the young talent to succeed in future. There needs to be a culture of continuous upskilling and reskilling, aimed at enabling people to grow to their highest potential and the best way to do this is by ensuring that all organisations partner together through a collective forum and ensure an overall development of the next gen workforce.