From education to employment

Future-Proofing Your Workforce: Empowering Employee Upskilling for Competitive Advantage

Mariano Kostelec

In this article, Mariano Kostelec discusses the need to effectively upskill employees to ensure they have the tech skills their career demands of them.

The World Economic Forum predicts that we will need to retrain 1 billion people by 2030 and that technology will transform 1.1 billion jobs over the next decade. Upskilling is both essential and inevitable, and is a means by which organisations can remain agile while tackling this mass shift in skill requirements.

The economic potential of businesses and their workforces is now threatened by insufficient education and training, as technological progression has created a widening chasm between employees’ current skills and the skills required to optimise company output. According to a recent report by Accenture, failure to address the skills gap could result in up to $11.5 trillion in lost GDP growth for 14 of the G20 economies over the next decade. This highlights the need for companies to upskill employees in order to stay competitive and be able to harness the latest technologies.

Company Responsibility for Workforce Training

According to Salesforce’s Global Digital Skills Index, over three-quarters of the global workforce does not feel ready to operate in the digital world. SHRM research found that 83% of HR professionals had difficulty recruiting qualified candidates. Companies cannot turn a blind eye to their responsibility in both encouraging and financially supporting the upskilling of their employees. Opportunities to build new skills are also integral to employee satisfaction and staff retention, with Gallup-Amazon research showing that 65% of employees saw employer-provided upskilling as very important when evaluating a potential new job.

According to Deloitte research, only 20% of executives believe their financial institutions have the right skills required to succeed in an AI-enabled world. Over the next three years, 81% of respondents to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report expect the use of AI to increase profoundly, yet only 26% feel their organisation is prepared to handle this impact.

PwC’s Pulse Survey on Business in 2022 reveals that 77% of executives see hiring and retaining talent as their key growth driver in 2022, and 60% cited digital transformation as most critical in achieving growth. Combined, these statistics highlight the importance of upskilling, both as a means to attract and retain talent and by ensuring staff capability when faced with digital transformation.

Investment is becoming a necessity, with companies like PwC commiting $3 billion to upskilling and Verizon commiting to train 500,000 individuals for jobs of the future by 2030. Amazon has committed $1.2 billion to company-funded training for 300,000 employees as part of Upskilling 25, and IBM previously launched a free digital learning platform SkillsBuild. Such initiatives enabling access to digital education help both current and future employees attain the relevant skills needed by these companies, optimising their ability to harness technology whilst supporting career progression.

Identify the Required Skills

With the transformation of 1.1 billion jobs comes an evolution in the skillsets required of employees.

Organisations must analyse their specific business needs and the market demands and then identify the skills necessary for their operations. This could include skills like coding, data analysis, and cybersecurity, as well as other essential skills relevant to their industry.

From there, companies can create targeted training programmes tailored to their unique requirements, by partnering with cutting-edge providers offering up-to-date, relevant programs, and incorporating online and offline training, practical exercises, and assessments.

Leverage AI-driven Tech Platforms

Tech platforms that use AI to map the most in-demand skills across various industries can support employers and employees in selecting the most appropriate upskilling options. These platforms help to identify the most valuable courses and certifications for each industry, streamlining the decision-making process. In addition, AI solutions and adaptive learning can target the exact skills and pace of development of each employee, marking their progress.

These platforms can also improve accessibility by outlining financing options available to support individuals undertaking upskilling programs, ensuring that financial barriers do not hinder their personal and professional growth.  Shared Income Agreements – in which a student’s monthly loan repayment is tied directly to their monthly income – gives students payment flexibility as they must only start paying back their loan once earning above the specific threshold.

These agreements provide flexibility and downside protection; if students’ income drops, their payments pause, giving them the freedom to take time off work to complete their training without stressing over payback. This flexible approach to financing supports those in training and is entirely outcome-based, whilst providing a common incentive for educational and financing institutions alike.

Foster a culture of continuous learning

Companies must foster a culture of continuous learning and encourage employees to pursue new skills even after completing training programs. This could be by providing access to online learning platforms, incentivising development or running mentorship programs. Employees have a part to play here in being accountable for proactively developing their own skillset and taking ownership of their career progression. Employers can encourage employees to cultivate a continuous learning mindset by providing resources like access to online learning platforms and mentorship programs, which will ultimately contribute to organisational success and competitiveness.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report indicates that by 2025, equal time will be spent on tasks at work by humans and machines. The report suggests that 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in this division of labour, while 97 million new roles may emerge. Thus, upskilling is essential to align people’s abilities with these predicted changes and best position them for upcoming career opportunities. 

Sustaining success

To keep pace with the ever-evolving tech landscape, avoid the costly threat of an ill-equipped workforce and sustain career progression amidst turbulent changes, companies and individuals alike must invest in upskilling. Big players are already investing, and for all organisations to remain competitive they must support the development of relevant skills, leveraging AI-driven tech platforms to ensure accurate skill selection.

Such selection cultivates a thriving workforce capable of harnessing maximum benefit from newfound tech. Furthermore, platforms which offer flexible financing options, expands accessibility to smaller companies and aspiring individuals, ensuring the 1 billion people predicted to require retraining can obtain necessary skills.

Looking to the future, prioritising upskilling and investing in re-training initiatives will be a key determinant in organisations’ competitiveness and commercial success. There is enormous potential for businesses to maximise use of their workforce, and ensure each and every employee is optimally equipped with the skills and tools necessary to perform well. Companies cannot afford to lag behind in the upskilling space, and must work to seize the opportunity now.

By Mariano Kostelec, CEO and Co-Founder of StudentFinance

FE News on the go…

Welcome to FE News on the go, the podcast that delivers exclusive articles from the world of further education straight to your ears.

We are experimenting with Artificial Intelligence to make our exclusive articles even more accessible while also automating the process for our team of project managers.

In each episode, our thought leaders and sector influencers will delve into the most pressing issues facing the FE sector, offering their insights and analysis on the latest news, trends, and developments.

Related Articles