The talent world has turned upside down since COVID hit. A flood of people leaving companies, record numbers of job openings, and difficulty finding qualified candidates are among the latest challenges vexing companies large and small. The pandemic may have been the catalyst, but today’s talent crisis has much deeper roots in policies and behaviours that have been building for decades. What’s currently happening in many ways represents a backlash by staff against deeply entrenched workplace policies that place corporate financial goals above all else.
Today we are seeing an unprecedented number of job openings and not enough candidates to fill them. Companies are struggling to fill all manner of openings, from low-skilled positions in industrial and services businesses to highly skilled jobs in finance, healthcare and technology.
In this interview with Amit Gautam, Founder & CEO, UpsideLMS we look at fixing the Great Resignation through skilling.
Here is an excerpt from the conversation:
Q1. The skills gap is widening and becoming a larger and more serious drag on business efficiency globally. What's your take on this?
In the last 10-15 years, the skills gap has widened faster than before due to a multitude of reasons– sophisticated technology, increased automation, and with the coming in of robots, there is a huge demand for developing and building new skills and capabilities. Further, there has always been a gap between what we are taught in our schools and colleges and what the businesses expect from us. And of course, situations like the COVID-19 pandemic brings a big shift in the skilling paradigm.
Any change will lead to a gap in skills demand.
Today, the biggest transformation that we are going through or went through in the last few months was learning to do everything digital. And that is where the biggest skill gap came from– to be able to do everything digitally, virtually, and without the human connection through videos, through different technologies. It is an instrumental change and has brought about a series of skills that we need to learn.
Hence, the biggest challenge companies are facing today is that how do we shorten this gap? How do we reduce this gap? How do we just come to a point where we can do our work as per today's requirements in the future that is still changing very fast? Businesses would have to focus on what they need and they have to take care of their team with an eye on building skills to respond to the future.
Q2: With the continuous innovation underway, the required skills are also under continuous change. Under such a circumstance, how should companies determine the skills needed and impart those to their employees?
The starting point is always to understand what organisations need to deliver to their customer and thereby setting processes and deciding on the skills to perform those processes. However, the business environment and the way we work is changing at an unimaginable pace. And with the pandemic, every company irrespective of the size, is experiencing a skills gap due to increased focus on digital. Whether you are a small business or a conglomerate, talent across industries and the size of the companies, need to learn to do things digitally. Hence, digital skills are the most important skills to learn right now.
Second, in the current context and in the future, which is largely digital, how do you still collaborate and communicate internally with your customers? Communication and collaborating in a virtual/hybrid would be another critical skill to be built to offer not only the right customer and client experience but also great employee engagement and better experience at work.
Organisations further need to keep track of their customer and client demands and reimagine their processes accordingly and simultaneously map the skills they would require to deliver on those demands. This will help them stay ahead of any change or shift.
Q3. How can business leaders and HR teams work together to create a high-impact learning culture in their organisations?
One big change that organisations need to bring in is to empower employees by giving them responsibility, accountability, and authority to align with the company's vision and mission by giving them ownership of their skilling. Things are changing very fast and we need to make sure the learners can learn on-demand. With the right technology, access to the right content, good coaches and mentors, learners would be able to attain those skills but we need to give them enough responsibility, accountability, and ownership to go ahead and select the right mechanism and the ways to learn those skills to keep pace with the demands. Hence, it becomes absolutely important to make everyone in the company own skill development.
Q4. Given the current scenario of the skills market and the talent crisis across the globe, do you think there could be a generic but key initiative to ‘immune’ organisations against the ‘skills gap pandemic’?
Great Resignation is one of the biggest challenges we are facing right now. And despite the best efforts by each company, I think we cannot just stop it. It is already been in full force for the last few months. And as businesses, what we can do is to create a strong channel of communication with every employee in the company and understand each employees’ requirements and demands– recognition, skilling and growth needs, purpose and the need to create impact at work.
Companies need to learn the reasons behind the Great Resignation and apply those learnings to be able to prevent any further resignations. While one can’t prevent each resignation, one can try to reduce them.
Q5. What tools, technologies, and solutions can organisations explore to cope up with the current workforce learning challenges?
Today's learners need to be able to define what they want to do. So the tools and technologies have to help them find the right information, divert them towards the right learning, right content, find the right person who they can speak with, and then make it very easy for them to use it. Further, they should be provided with the choice– mobile, IT infrastructure, bite-size format, or long format. Each learner has a very different way of learning and the technology should act as a pull factor to accelerate the impact of these skilling initiatives by making skilling personalised, experiential, and easy to access.
Q6. What are some of the innovations you are trying to build to help organisations with the skills challenge they are facing?
We are focusing heavily on our mobile platform. The second thing we're doing is trying to shift from just being a solutions platform–we are merging our platform with the right content and giving customers a complete solution to manage the entire learning aspect of an employee. This will also allow learners to find the right piece of information or the right content solution to plan the learning journeys and risk journeys and how do they build the capabilities in the ever-changing environment.
The innovations and changes in our systems are geared towards enabling learners. We are working very hard at personalising the learning processes within the learning platform we have. By offering our customers a combined solution, we'll be able to give them a learning platform and the whole ecosystem of mobile platforms which is very easy to use.