Blog Post

Upskilling and Reskilling: the art of coping with permanent change

Cornerstone Editors

In a world where constant change has become a fact of life, your business needs both organisational and personal resilience to thrive. But how do you become resilient? Vincent Belliveau, Chief Executive for EMEA at Cornerstone, highlighted in his Learning Technologies Digital Experience keynote “Upskilling your People for Continuous Adaptability” how organisations are focusing on Upskilling and Reskilling their people in order to adapt to constant change.

2020: the year when constant change began

Preparing for never-ending change has become a fact of everyday life for businesses since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. If leaders still doubted this only a year ago; in today’s climate, no one disputes this reality, as it impacts the daily life of every organisation. Because of this, your company needs to reinvent itself to face a world of multiple crises, and in doing so it will be better placed to weather the storm, and moreover to continue to develop, adapt and thrive.

The challenge is unavoidable. In recent months, organisations have had to rapidly digitalise processes - at a speed like never before, and the responsiveness and adaptability of employees has been essential during this time. But there is still much to do. We need to continue to give our teams the tools to be resilient and able to cope with uncertainty, so that the efforts made throughout the past year can be sustained and amplified.

In other words, both today and in the future, resilience combined with the ability to cope with uncertainty and adaptability are essential skills in order to turn change into opportunity for your business. Alvin Toffler says in "The Shock of the Future": "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn".

Training at the heart of the Upskilling and Reskilling

We must realise the greater place that skills occupy in the success of organisations. Therefore, the HR function must focus on skills development for existing positions (upskilling) and create development plans for new functions (reskilling). Even if a job title does not change, some of the tasks carried through by the employee will become obsolete over time and will be replaced by new ones. To remain competitive, each employee needs to learn to integrate these new tasks both in their execution and in their understanding of their role and the business. At the same time, organisations need to create new professions and career opportunities to respond to changes in their market to fully satisfy their customers. It is through reskilling and upskilling simultaneously, that organisations can hope to remain successful and gain a competitive advantage.

According to the World Economic Forum, 54% of corporate positions will require significant reskilling or upskilling in the next three years. And 40% of employees will need to upgrade their skills over the next six months to perform well in their role and allow the business to thrive - proof that the challenge we face is of exceptional magnitude, but not impossible. Indeed, this change in workplaces and the need for regular training are at the core of employee expectations: 77% of employees want to acquire new skills according to a study published in 2019 by PWC.

How does artificial intelligence transform the efficiency of skills management?

According to the World Economic Forum, the return on Upskilling and Reskilling investment should be seen after just one year of launch. To achieve this goal, organisations need to go much further in the implementation and management of training. Today, employees do not spend nearly enough time training, on average less than 1% of their week! This situation stems from the misconception that training is not “work”, and vice versa.

On the contrary, the two are inherently linked and interdependent if a business is to save time and achieve:

● greater efficiency

● higher productivity

● increased quality

If we take a close look at the practices of leading organisations in their market segment, their success stems in part from the fact that they have in place a thorough training strategy throughout HR processes at all stages of the life cycle of an employee in their company. And to achieve this, artificial intelligence has a key place in monitoring existing and new skills for the company as well as for each employee.

This means we need to know, as precisely as possible, what each employee is currently able to do, which skills they have and which new skills they want to learn. By linking this information with job descriptions and development plans, your organisation will know which skills its candidates need when they are being recruited, but also the career development opportunities on offer to employees as well as any relevant training needed for your team to achieve their professional goals. Therefore, artificial intelligence positively impacts not solely the efficacy of skills management but also that of careers.

In a period where the war for talent continues, the science of data to study in detail new skills and effectively upskill and reskill is proving decisive. The creation of academies or in-house training centres, the deployment of regulatory training in line with company strategy and the provision of resources to employees are initiatives that remain vital. But we have to go much further to reduce the today’s employee skills gaps as far as possible and prepare for skills they will most certainly need tomorrow.

If you have not been able to watch Vincent Belliveau’s keynote, don’t worry. Access to the LT21 platform is available until June. So, if you haven't already, sign up and enjoy the fantastic content on demand, at a time that suits you.

This piece was originally published in the French Cornerstone Blog.

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