Corporations are under immense pressure to adapt to work-transforming automation and artificial intelligence technologies. These innovations are having a profound effect on the workforce in every industry, as relevant skills are in short supply.
To proactively build a competitive workforce of the future requires gaining clarity on today’s workforce gaps and the future skills needed; a robust plan to supply the future demand; and rapid, disciplined execution.
There are different techniques that organizations can use to build this competitive workforce, and retaining through retraining is one approach. Executives agree there’s a war for talent; 82 percent of those in companies with at least $100 million in annual revenues, surveyed by the McKinsey Global Institute, think retraining and reskilling will comprise at least half of their future needs.
Continuous learning, workplace design and performance management are among the avenues an organization can take to get started. Across different industries, companies are applying multi-year plans to help employees achieve higher digital acumen. The first step is to understand the skills gap of the future, then determine how to fill this gap and develop an approach. Here are some examples of what we’re seeing.
- ID the new skills – hard and soft.
A global retailer analyzed the effects automation will have on its workforce over the next 3-10 years. It mapped automation’s possibilities across its value chain and P&L, and analyzed existing roles and skills, to grasp the impact and gaps related to future talent needs. With this cross-functional understanding of the technology implications on its workforce, the retailer is now designing initiatives to right-skill its workforce.
Another example is a tech company with more than 25,000 employees that adopted a new-product strategy as it underwent an agile transformation. It identified the need for new hard skills – machine learning, IoT, cloud computing, etc. – as well as soft skills, including agile behaviors, coaching and feedback. The company determined it had to meet half of its future talent needs from right-skilling – its largest such program. The other half would comprise new hires.
Within four months, the company designed an internal training program that, with the help of learning and business/product third parties, created 10 future learning journeys. After 10 months, over 1,000 employees were retrained into new roles, with 4,000 more going through the program over the next two years.
- Adopt targeted retraining.
A regional bank was planning to displace 10,000 employees because of technology changes and strategic shifts. It mapped roles and new career paths requiring new skills, then moved displaced talent to them, including product owners and data scientists. Retraining involved internships, mobile apps and classrooms, and it incorporated digital and analytics teaching. Nearly all of the employees were right-skilled and redeployed over five years. Employee satisfaction rose 10 percent.
- Continue along your learning curve.
A global telecommunications company is focused on honing expertise, or upskilling, and right-skilling its more than 200,000-employee workforce to acquire skills in cloud-based computing, coding, data science and other technical capabilities. In the last five years, the company has spent over $250 million annually on employee education and professional development programs.
The company partners with universities to retrain and pays reduced tuition at more than 30 universities for employee development. Half of all technology management jobs have been filled by retrained employees. As a result, the company reduced its product-development cycle time by 40 percent and accelerated its time-to-revenue by 32 percent.
Every organization needs to track where it is along the path toward developing its future workforce. Following these steps can help companies act quickly and correctly to right-skill their employees, take advantage of new technologies, and secure a competitive advantage in this age of automation.