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Talent shortage: 5 steps to upskilling the workforce

Grow - Learn - Explore

Lifelong learning is the key to future proofing the company.

With the aging population heading for retirement and younger candidates with the needed skills in short supply, organizations are increasingly turning to upskilling their existing workforce to supply the expertise needed to compete in today’s marketplace.

A full 47% of today’s jobs are expected to disappear in the next 25 years. This means that much of today’s workforce doesn’t even know what jobs they will be performing by then. So upskilling the workforce is becoming an ongoing necessity.

1. Take responsibility for upskilling employees

The old school approach was to hire workers who already had the skills, pop them into a cubicle and demand that they produce, using whatever skills they were hired with.

Today, companies often find there are no applicants with the skills they need. But instead of blaming external factors, such as the economy, foreign competition or the school system, they would do better to build a company culture that takes responsibility for their employees’ skills.

This means assessing employees’ current skills and providing a pathway to self-improvement and learning.

2. Lead by example

To motivate learning new skills by workers, managers need to be prepared to learn new skills themselves.

With new technologies and changing ways of doing things, a company’s managers should devote a part of their schedule to adding to their own skills portfolio. When employees see their managers taking these steps, and then are provided with opportunities to learn new skills themselves, it promotes a culture of learning that will benefit both employers and employees.

Some companies appoint a Chief Learning Officer, whose job is to shift the organization’s culture into one of continuous learning.

3. Hire for learnability, not academics

Today’s hiring watchword is learnability.

Academic success may indicate an ability to learn things, but it may not reflect a desire for continuing education that today’s business environment requires. Enhancing the workforce’s learnability begins at the hiring stage – selecting candidates who demonstrate an eagerness to learn new skills, not necessarily directly related to their present fields of expertise.

A readiness for cross-training in other fields will help identify people with a high learnabiilty quotient.

4. Promote expertise, not google-skimming

There is a common belief that all the information is available on the internet, just by googling the search terms. But too frequently this promotes skimming a topic, without really getting into it too deeply. There’s no competitive advantage gained by skimming knowledge, because the next person can do the same.

Nurture deep-diving into new skills and finding out what is the real core knowledge to be obtained. This will promote expertise and provide a deeper level of satisfaction in skills gained.

Studies show that search engine skimming for information actually decreases the appetite for learning and differentiates between those who just go online and those who actually benefit practically from learning.

5. Reward learning

Reward high learners with new and challenging opportunities to broaden their expertise.

Provide new opportunities where people can use and display their new skills. They will be stimulated to go further, increasing their value to the company and their own self-worth. Promotion can be tied to learning more about other positions in the company than their own, for example.

Lifelong learning is the way to future-proof your career. Promoting a culture of lifelong learning in your employees will future proof your workforce and prepare your company for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

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