Plan now for the skills journey that lies ahead

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Pre-pandemic market research reported that nine out of 10 employees would need some form of reskilling or upskilling by 2030, but in light of the dramatic changes to working environments over the last year, shouldn’t businesses be addressing their new skills agenda sooner rather than later?

It’s inspiring to see the speed of digital transformation driving the innovation and change that will create new products, services, customer engagements and ways of working. However, now we’ve made these changes have we taken – or even had – the time to assess the impact on our workforce? Do we actually know what skills are aligned with these rapid changes, and where gaps within our workforces could hamper the future growth of our organisations?

What we are likely to see are some skill requirements diminish as others increase, but the key is how to balance this without a cycle of redundancy and re-recruitment. This is an outdated way to manage changing requirements, as it erodes employee loyalty and creates significant expense at a time when cost management is paramount.

 Values will be core to recruitment in 2021

The starting point is with a strategic workforce review (even in the SME market) to identify immediate and future skill requirements, mapped against your current employee population. A holistic review will encompass the roles they perform today along with their transferrable and hidden skills, whilst factoring in their ability and desire to re-shape their career. It’s a chunky piece of work but well worth the effort when you look at the long-term benefits of increased engagement, motivation and productivity, not to mention the longer-term cost savings from reduced recruitment and hiring.

Identifying the right training, and the provider and method of delivery, is also critical. Funding is another consideration and for organisations that don’t have internal resource, there may be support through the Flexible Workforce Development Fund.

 Hiring in 2021 won’t be a walk in the park

Where skills gaps are small, fast-track bootcamp training activities can do the job and sustained self-directed learning should always be a key component for all personal development plans. However, as the world of work continues to evolve at pace, so must our short as well as long-term people development strategies.

Having the right people in your organisation will ultimately be a huge part of the success formula, but when skill requirements change, that doesn’t mean throwing the baby out with the bath water. Career opportunities, learning and personal development are key reasons people want to join and stay with an organisation, so nurture them and give them the new skills to take your business forward together.

Simone Lockhart is the group commercial director of the Taranata Group

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