Upskilling: Building confidence in an uncertain world - PwC
Developing a workforce with the digital and transferable skills you need — and the ability to adapt quickly in a world of constant change — does not happen organically or by accident.
Taking steps to upskill helps organisations builds confidence because it shows a clear, practical course of action in an increasingly uncertain world. Additionally, employers who make goodfaith efforts to upskill their employees build trust — and that in turn can enhance the organisation’s reputation in a world where trust is an increasingly valuable commodity.
As organisations emerge from the COVID-19 crisis and its economic impacts, the benefits seen from well-constructed and well-implemented upskilling programmes will be an important tool in building confidence, agility and competitive advantage.
CEOs see a pressing challenge in delivering an upskilling programme along 4 themes:
1. Holding on to upskilled talent - There is palpable concern among CEOs that they could invest a substantial amount in upskilling only to see valuable employees leave. The truth is that if CEOs are worried that their staff will be in demand from competitors, that’s a sure indication that their upskilling programme is a success. What may be missing is a plan to make the best use of employees who have been upskilled so they can see the value of their new learning and are incentivised to put it to good use helping their own organisation weather the economic impact of COVID-19.
2. What skills to teach - The skills organisations need today — creativity, problem solving, an understanding of how digital technology can be used — and in the future are a moving target. Organisations and their leaders can’t afford to wait for a clarity that may never be fully realised about what the jobs of the future will look like. Today, it’s about creating a culture of adaptability: people need to learn how to think, act and thrive in a digital world that is much less predictable than we once thought. Organisations need to build transferable, ‘no regrets’ skills that prepare people no matter the change. They used to be called soft skills, though in today’s world they can have a harder edge when they’re combined with digital skills, like the ability to create bots from off-the-shelf software that can perform repetitive, time-consuming tasks.
3. Motivation and inspiration - Most people are willing and ready to learn new skills (in fact, they’re ready to entirely retrain) in order to improve their future employability, but research shows that only one in three feel that they have been given the opportunity by their employer to develop the digital and transferable skills they need. And bosses also have to invest in their own upskilling. If leaders commit to upskill themselves, it will give them a better understanding of the benefits — along with the time, energy and commitment it takes.
4. Paying for it - There are varying estimates of what it costs to upskill staff. The World Economic Forum has estimated that in the US, the cost of upskilling is about US$24,000 per employee. There is no simple calculation. But the fact remains, upskilling should still be seen as a strategic priority alongside technology investments because the two go hand in hand: the innovation and productivity expected from the latter will only happen if the right skilled and motivated workforce is in place to exploit the technology.
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