The importance of upskilling in uncertain times

The world has significantly changed since Price Waterhouse Cooper conducted their 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey in October 2019. The issues CEO’s have identified are important to address in a COVID-19 era where the key to unlocking organisational value is still in culture, trust and gaining the right skills writes Carol Stubbings and Bhushan Sethi from PWC

Upskilling builds confidence in an uncertain climate

As shown in the 23rd Annual Global CEO survey, 74% of the 3,000 CEOs who took part said that the lack of availability of the right skills was a concern, along with the availability of skills that would sustain growth for both employees and companies.

These issues and results still bear weight in today’s pandemic climate. Those who lack adaptability from re-skilling and re-training are far more at risk when tackling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. With almost half of CEOs surveyed expressing that upskilling and re-training would be the best approach in closing the skills gap.

It is important for companies to see upskilling and training programs as a strategic priority, just the way technological investments are.

So why are businesses holding back?

What is holding businesses back from choosing to invest in their team’s professional development? There were four main areas that held them back from choosing to upgrade their skills:

  1. Keeping a hold of upskilled talent.
  2. Knowing how to choose the right skills that will prepare them for the future.
  3. Fear of the uncertain future.
  4. Paying for these upskilling and re-training programs.

Recommendations for upskilling

  • Set a clear direction and lead from the front – A strong and credible narrative that explains leadership’s future vision and objectives around upskilling will send a positive message about future competitiveness.
  • Identify your priority skills and skills gaps  – Determine the most pressing gaps and mismatches, which types of employees will likely become redundant and the cultural/behavioural challenges that need to be overcome.
  • Upskilling and reskilling are both vitally important – Reskilling in the short term will be necessary for the new roles created by COVID-19. In the long term, upskilling will raise productivity and smooth the transition to a human-machine workforce.
  • Build on your cultural foundations – Employees will only learn new skills if organisational culture and upskilling programs are aligned. Allowing people to identify the skills they need to be successful and giving them the space to learn them will help.
  • Provide time, energy and motivation to learn – Especially with so many now working from home, providing for employee well-being is crucial to creating trust and supporting learning.
  • Track and measure results – Upskilling can be disruptive and takes time and money so it’s important to measure the return on investment via financial results, customer satisfaction, employee retention, talent attraction and/or societal impact.

Organisations who invest in the professional development of their employees will find themselves in a better position to benefit from growth when the economic climate improves. In an uncertain landscape, any advantage will be a big one, and those still wondering about the benefits of upskilling should take note.

*This article was originally published by PWC. Click here to read the full article on PWCs Digital Pulse.

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