UPSKILLING YOUR WORKFORCE IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

09 September 2019

By 2030, as many as 375 million workers, roughly 14% of the global workforce, need to change their skills and occupational categories to be able to adapt to digital transformation.

To survive being displaced by automation, workers of the future need to be trained in skills that remain largely unmatched by machines: managing people and social interactions; applying expertise; and communicating with others. They also need to have more advanced cognitive capabilities, such as logical reasoning and creativity.

Indeed, digital transformation is disrupting the world of work and company executives are increasingly seeing the value in upskilling their current workforce to prepare for the looming age of digitalisation and automation.

The results of a McKinsey survey revealed that 62% of executives believe they need to retrain, if not replace, more than a quarter of their current workforce between now and 2023 to address skills gaps related to digitalisation and automation.

The scale of the task at hand prompts senior executives in companies to rethink their roles in upskilling their current workforce. Given the resources and infrastructure they have at their disposal, corporations are in a strategic position to take the lead in closing this skills gap.

Companies worldwide have been harnessing digital technologies to upskill their current workforce. In a joint report, the World Economic Forum and The Boston Consulting Group have observed that "managing skills in the digital age requires organisations to harness technology that enables them to leverage a data-driven approach to lifelong learning and smart upskilling".

The Benefits of Upskilling

From a business standpoint, it is more economical and efficient to train your current workforce for the new skills that are required in digital transformation. Not only does finding new hires take more time and money, but around 60% of companies are already having a hard time finding qualified candidates to fill vacant positions.

To bridge the skills gap, companies are better off focusing on training and upskilling their current workforce as this also improves employee retention and loyalty. However, part of this upskilling is ensuring that the company and its employees are on the same page about their goals and objectives when it comes to digital transformation. This alignment in goals and objectives can, in turn, lead to a more engaged and motivated workforce, thereby enhancing overall company productivity.

In a report titled The Value of Training, IBM revealed that, in the best performing companies, 84% of their employees, on average, are getting the necessary training. IBM, itself a world leader in technology and innovations, believes in improving human capital by providing "the right skills, at the right time, for the right people."

How Companies Can Take the Lead

The key to taking digital transformation in your stride is making digital technologies work for you and your current workforce. 

Companies are now using big data analytics not only to monitor activities and their progress, but also to measure their employees' learning success. Big data enables companies to notice patterns and variances, which provides valuable insights on how to implement and improve their upskilling programmes moving forward. Ultimately, these big data insights will reveal the success of failure of the company's upskilling initiatives.

Additionally, big data also provides insights into how companies can tailor-fit their learning and development programmes to suit the needs and goals of their individual employees. To encourage a culture of continuous learning, businesses are now providing a wide range of learning opportunities, both online and offline.

The great thing about learning is that is it a continuous process, especially when fostered by the organisation and its culture.

Digital technologies only serve to aid companies and their workforce to pursue learning in an efficient, productive and cost-effective manner. However, the desire to learn and adapt to changes must be embraced by the individual and cultivated within the company culture. In the end, it is the people, not the digital technologies, that bring about true and lasting transformation.

Do you think your company will be able to upskill your workforce? Are you ready to lead your people to move forward to success in the age of digital transformation?

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