When reskilling workers is not enough

Friday June 18 2021

Mentorship programmes will give workers exposure to leaders who can serve as role models, experts say. PHOTO/NET

By Agencies

Time waits for no one. Especially in the fast-paced world of business.

One particularly challenging time-related issue is reskilling workers. By the time organisations figure out the “who,” “what,”

“why” and “how” of reskilling their employees, those skills could already be outdated.

Although companies may not move quickly enough, consider how long it takes for a college or university to approve, develop, implement, advertise and assess new training programmes. 

“The traditional education system and construct is not equipped nor responsive enough to continually reskill the workforce,” says Mark Onisk, Chief Content Officer at Skillsoft. “Therefore, employers will bear the cost of this skills shortage in the form of disruption and stilted innovation, followed by an inability to generate sustained customer value.”

The solution? Onisk says employers have to proactively invest in the skills of the future. But there’s more. 
“They also have to invest in the underlying capabilities that foster innovation, such as collaboration, critical thinking,  agility,  execution and growth mindset,”  he says. 


“These core capabilities provide exponentially more value in the longer-term versus trying to address a near-term skills gap solely.”

As always, the future comes fast and furiously. According to Deloitte’s 2020 Human Capital Trends Report, 53 per cent of respondents believe between half and all of their workforce will need to change their skills and capabilities in the next three years.

“Yet, only 16 per cent of business leaders expect to make a significant investment increase in the continual reinvention of the workforce over the next three years,” says Erica Volini, Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Leader.

Developing Resilient Employees
Even among companies committed to reskilling their workers, many fail to see the big picture. There’s a focus on hard skills, but Volini says that this single-minded approach is a strategic dead end, and the language needs to shift from reskilling to building resilience. 

“In a world where a 50-year career may become the norm, we need to make sure we are not just preparing workers for the jobs that we know will exist in the next two to three years, but for the jobs that we don’t even know will be in existence.”

Building resilience requires investing in capabilities that span multiple roles and jobs. “It’s about understanding that investing in the capabilities and skills needed at the community level is what can help advance society—and this is a role that every organisation must play to fulfill their responsibility as a social enterprise,”  Volini explains.

She believes that organisations, government and educational institutions all have a role to play, and recommends a consortium committed to working together. Organisations will play a central role for several reasons. 

“The organisation has the ability to shape what capabilities and skills will be needed for the future, because they have the best pulse on how the work will evolve.” 

They also have the capital to invest in building programmes for resilience. “They can be a convener of the ecosystem that will be required to actually make worker reinvention a reality,”  Volini says.

Compiled from execed.economist.com