A Compelling Business Case for Upskilling and Reskilling

Published On: April 6, 2021Categories: Employee Training

Much has been made about the job losses caused by automation and the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, according to the World Economic Forum, while 85 million jobs will be displaced in the next five years, 97 million new ones will be created. The jobs will be there, but will our people be prepared to do them? In LinkedIn Learning’s 2021 survey, 64 percent of global L&D pros agreed that 2020 was the time learning shifted from a “nice to have” to a “need to have.” And sure enough, from 2019 to 2020, the number of enterprise learners doubled and the amount of learning overall increased by 58 percent. Upskilling provides new skills to workers in their existing domains, while reskilling trains workers for new jobs. There are a variety of reasons both upskilling and reskilling are critical now.

First, despite record unemployment rates in many areas, there are documented labor shortages in others. For instance, the working-age population without a college degree is shrinking as baby boomers retire and more young people enroll in college. Labor participation among 16- to 24-year-olds has fallen 10 percentage points in the last few years. The bottom line? We can’t afford NOT to upskill and reskill the good people we already have.

The pandemic has accelerated a focus on talent assembly – or constructing short-term teams for the express purpose of solving a specific business problem. The growing professional gig economy has given rise to internal talent marketplaces and contract labor aggregator platforms to hire and schedule qualified workers who meet a need. However, with so many workers moving in and out of organizations, upskilling and reskilling initiatives must be highly targeted, efficient, self-driven and platform agnostic.

More Smart Machines = The Need for More Qualified Humans

Advances in robotic process automation and artificial intelligence, somewhat paradoxically, make faster and more effective human skill acquisition paramount. Through the use of Big Data and predictive and prescriptive analytics, we now understand better how human capital quantitatively drives business value.

But wherever you insert an algorithm or smart machine into a traditional business process, you need trained human workers to build it, manage it, fix it when it breaks, explain its outputs to decision-makers, and refine or redeploy it – all while ensuring high data quality, ethical data collection and storage, and proper governance.

Technology Advances Promote Agile Learning

Human workers cannot be trained for these new, human/machine hybrid roles overnight, but fortunately, organizational learning is broader in scope, more flexible in format and easier to access than ever before.

During the hiring process, for example, new forms of immersive learning combine virtual reality with learning theory, data science and spatial design to illustrate how candidates might perform on the job.

Immersive new hire training places employees in scenarios that allow them to get to know the organization, its culture and their role; or provide hands-on engagement with new technology, as well as real-time exposure to logistics, operations, customer interactions, emergencies and safety protocols.

More seasoned employees and leaders can benefit from conversational dynamics, which offers practice in showing empathy to frustrated customers or partners, and in having tough conversations with co-workers or reports.

Want to know more about why now is the right time for reskilling and upskilling and how you can leverage current organizational learning trends to maximize your investment?

Join workforce and human capital futurist Alexandra Levit and SilkRoad for the Reskilling Imperative webinar on April 13th at 1PM CST. Register today: we look forward to seeing you there!

[Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from Alexandra Levit, workforce and human capital author, analyst, consultant and futurist and Managing Partner of PeopleResults]