For businesses providing knowledge-based services, talent development is directly tied to client services. To provide the highest level of service, firms need to regularly update their associates’ skills and capabilities to keep up with increasing competition. And with rapid digitization and a fast-changing job market, skill-building is more important than ever.
Artificial intelligence is transforming the jobs and skills needed at work. While some positions will be lost, the World Economic Forum (WEF) expects even more jobs to be created. With an estimated 97 million new roles emerging by 2025, businesses will need to source a host of new skills.
Sure enough, firms are investing a great deal in upskilling and reskilling their workers. For example, in 2019, PwC committed $3 billion toward upskilling its workforce and pledged to retain all professionals who joined the program. And the skills movement is only growing — Gartner research reveals that skill-building remains a top priority for HR leaders for the fourth year in a row.
What is the difference between upskilling and reskilling?
- Upskilling is when employees pick up new skills in relation to their roles, helping them develop their expertise. This learning is continuous and drives employees along their career paths. Unsurprisingly, 94% of business leaders expected their workers to acquire new skills on the job in 2020 (compared to 65% in 2018).
- Reskilling is when employees learn skills that are needed for other roles, enabling them to move positions within the company. According to the WEF, as many as half of all workers will need to be reskilled by 2025.
How do upskilling and reskilling help firms prepare for the future?Skill demands are moving fast, and upskilling and reskilling helps firms meet these needs through continuous development. When the future of business is uncertain, ongoing learning generates an agile workforce that can quickly acquire skills in time with market changes.
Skill-building strategies also promote internal mobility. As associates upskill and reskill, they become qualified for new roles. Firms can choose to retrain associates to fill newly important positions instead of hiring externally, which is a cheaper and more efficient solution to the ongoing skills shortage. A skills strategy also helps firms respond to the rising calls for diversity, equity, and inclusion by giving all professionals the chance to develop their competencies.
6 effective strategies for upskilling and reskilling your talent teamIn a rapidly changing economy, here are some key strategies to regularly equip your talent with new skills.
1. Use skills data and skills tracking to power your approachBehind every skills strategy is one critical component — skills data. Technology can help firms collect and make sense of this data, so they can make strategic talent development decisions. For example, skills management software can help firms track their professionals’ skills and create a skill library that maps out all the capabilities of the organization. Firms can outline the competencies needed for particular roles, identify skill gaps and take steps to eliminate them.
A PWC study found that only 26% of business leaders strongly agree that they can identify the skill needs of the future, and only 23% are using workforce analytics to predict skill gaps. Skills tracking helps firms visualize the capabilities of their workforce and anticipate opportunities to upskill or reskill associates according to upcoming needs. With insight into their own abilities, associates also play an active role in identifying and overcoming their knowledge gaps.
2. Map out growth opportunities with personal development plansFirms can help their talent build their careers through personal development plans (PDPs). When creating a PDP, professionals reflect on their career objectives and map out a defined path to achieve them. This includes pinpointing ways to upskill and reskill to meet specific developmental needs. Throughout the process, professionals may discover unknown opportunities within the firm.
For firms, career pathing allows them to target desired competencies according to business objectives and evolving industry demands. For associates, career pathing helps them take control of their careers and recognize that it’s within their power to advance or change roles within the company. This is valuable because associates understand the importance of skill growth — 90% of workers say they need to refresh their skills at least every year. Allowing professionals to take charge of their own learning increases engagement and encourages them to stick around, improving retention.
3. Prioritize learning and mentorship opportunities when allocating workWhen distributing work, firms can proactively match workers to stretch assignments. To do this, managers can identify their associates’ skill gaps and skill goals and then assign them to projects that will help them acquire these skills. A resource allocation platform can simplify and streamline this matching process.
These development opportunities can be facilitated through mentoring and coaching. Through skills tracking, firms can match professionals on projects together according to their skill strengths and skill needs. This allows junior associates to learn from more senior professionals — and vice versa. Matching associates to growth work is a powerful way to upskill and reskill talent members since they’re provided with real projects that test and stretch their abilities, enabling concrete learning.
4. Build an internal talent marketplace to connect associates to new skillsTalent marketplaces — or internal gig economies — are rapidly gaining popularity. These systems help connect workers to open projects and roles within the firm so they can expand their skills. Internal talent marketplaces promote ongoing improvement by encouraging professionals to look for opportunities to upskill and reskill according to their goals and interests.
Within the system, associates can share their skill aspirations and uncover corresponding gigs. This helps associates grow as they move up and across the organization while helping firms fill open positions and meet upcoming market demands. These marketplaces also encourage knowledge sharing, as professionals recognize that their competencies can be useful in other parts of the firm.
5. Encourage continuous development with microlearningDeloitte’s 2021 Future-Ready Workforce Report outlines four crucial principles for the future of learning. These principles describe learning that is experiential, work-integrated, blended and lifelong. The approach emphasizes that learning is most effective when it’s relevant, necessary and incorporated into daily activities.
In contrast to stagnant learning and development programs of the past, firms are now embracing continuous learning. Instead of one-and-done courses, firms are leveraging microlearning, an approach that uses shorter, more frequent bursts of learning that are backed with technology (e.g., short videos, infographics, whiteboards). Associates pick up bits of knowledge on a regular basis, rather than completing an extensive course and never looking back.
It’s clear that employees want to learn — 82% say they would quit for lack of career progression. By design, microlearning supports employees’ ongoing development. The user experience is more accessible, more engaging and interactive, and highly tailored to the individual. Associates are in control and learning at their own pace, picking and choosing modules that fit with their skill needs while avoiding extraneous info.
6. Use consistent, real-time feedback to support and reward skill growthAs associates take on stretch work and tackle new competencies, they’ll likely come across the occasional hiccup. When they do, it’s important for them to have the timely support they need to adjust their approach and get back on track.
With consistent, real-time feedback, associates get regular coaching from their managers at the moment of learning, so they can quickly course correct. Regular feedback speeds up skill development, as associates don’t have to wait to get help from their managers. Any confusion is nipped in the bud before larger problems have time to surface.
Regular feedback not only shows professionals that their skill development is valued and supported by the firm, but it increases their motivation and engagement since their growth is being regularly acknowledged by their managers. Real-time feedback also helps firms stay on top of their upskilling and reskilling initiatives since they’re continuously kept in the loop about their talent’s progress.
It’s time to upgrade the skills of your workforceTalent development is entering a new era, and vi by Aderant can help you upskill and reskill your talent into the future. Intuitive skills tracking and skills management software helps you power your skills strategy with clear visibility of your workforce’s skills. A comprehensive resource allocation platform also allows you to strategically match professionals to the development opportunities they crave, helping your firm close skill gaps and stay on top of the competition.
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