The workplace of 2023 is navigating an unprecedented skills gap among employees.

The Reskilling Revolution

In 2020, the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development projected 1.1 billion jobs would be transformed by technology within a decade. Coined the Fourth Industrial Revolution, impacts of advanced technology are seen everywhere, including in increased job displacements. As a result, the World Economic Forum launched the Reskilling Revolution platform with the goal to prepare the global workforce with the skills needed to futureproof their careers, as technologies such as artificial intelligence enable greater automation. The Forum is currently working with more than 350 organizations to provide 1 billion people with better education, skills and economic opportunities by 2030.

The way companies approach the implementation of reskilling varies, but its value is uniform. Organizations that conduct skills assessments now and take steps to mitigate future talent shortages will be better suited to outlast future recessions and the digitalization of nearly every industry. For example, financial services company SunLife considers reskilling as a crucial component to achieve the goals of its corporate strategy, and as a result, reskilling incentivizes learning for its employees. Alternatively, insurance company Prudential responded to the pandemic by promoting reskilling as a new approach for hiring and promotions.

Reskilling is often considered a strategy to meet the specific needs of a company and the evolving areas of importance in society, and without immediate action, the future workforce will not possess the required skills to work effectively in an environment led by rapidly evolving technology.

Therefore, the time to implement a reskilling plan is now. Leaders who wait until the skills gap hurts their organizations may face a challenge that could take years to repair, leaving them even farther behind. By beginning now, HR can navigate organizations through the impending technological transformation with a robust and skill-rich team. In short, prioritizing employees fortifies the company’s stability and competitive advantage; doing so also helps minimize the risk that technology will displace teams or cause apertures in capabilities.

By taking a few strategic steps, employers can create investments that are mutually beneficial to the organization and to employees.

Identify and Alleviate Future Talent Droughts

As leaders evaluate the future goals of their organizations, a key element in preparation is ensuring that the required talent is in place. This clarity of goals — and the new skills required to reach them — empowers leadership, HR and learning and development (L&D) to work together to create a reskilling plan and identify employees with the potential to build these additional skills. Then, it’s time to immediately begin making those reskilling investments in talent.

Approaching employees for reskilling requires a high level of transparency to avoid misconceptions. Be sure to explain to employees how the new skills they are building enhance their value to the organization and will redefine their role, rather than simply piling on new work outside of the scope of their current role.

Leverage Reskilling for Futureproofed Career Paths

Reskilling requires cooperation between the organization and its employees. Leaders who recognize this truth and approach reskilling programs with an attitude of mutual gain will head into the future of work prepared to accomplish more than ever before.

There must be benefits for employees to take on the effort to educate and reskill themselves. Much of this can be achieved in the way reskilling is introduced — as an investment to futureproof not only the organization, but the career of each employee.

Employee reskilling must be both personal and practical. Aligning organizational requirements with personal aspirations begins with open conversations about company needs and what the employee can realistically provide. For many businesses, this will include the capability to manage both people and technology, ahead of the looming technological transformation.

For example, individuals who was passed over for a promotion could look to reskilling to fill in the gap that made them unsuitable for the new role. Once these skills have been obtained, the employee is eligible for growth and the employer is able to fill in a skills gap. Alternatively, HR and L&D teams often look to reskilling as an investment in a capable and adaptable professional who they value and wish to have a long career within the organization.

The opportunity to be futureproofed allows the individuals to think of their own possibilities. If the goal is to advance at one’s current company, the focus should be on what the company needs and how value can be added. If the goal is to switch fields, the question must be answered differently with a focus on maximizing personal potential. Either way, the benefits of reskilling are bipartite.

Support the Reskilling Revolution at Its Human Core

The Reskilling Revolution is a proactive approach to significant upheaval that has already begun and is likely to continue to reshape business and the world for years to come. When employees are asked to reskill, they experience this upheaval on a personal level that affects their day-to-day lives. This may cause anxiety, doubt or great stress. A strategic reskilling plan will address this human aspect of the process.

Coaching is proven to support change management at both the organizational and individual level and can be a powerful supplemental tool to support a reskilling initiative. Professionals who work with a coach report measurable and meaningful impacts including improved communication skills, work/life balance, and productivity, as well as optimized performance, according to the 2022 International Coaching Federation (ICF) Global Coaching Awareness Study.

Coaching can also support teams to improve communication and clarity of thought amid daunting strategic efforts. In this way, coaching can serve as a support system for HR, L&D and full organizational teams in mapping out plans to identify reskilling needs, develop plans to address them and implement them effectively across the organization.

The time is now to reimagine coaching to support organizations and individuals in maximizing talent to plan for the future. While companies across all industries are gearing up for a technological revolution, there will continue to be elements of every job that require a human element. Technology must be led and managed by humans to earn the sought after results.

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