What Is The Skills Gap, And What Can I Do About It?
July 23, 2021
July 20, 2021
With the nature of work rapidly changing due to automation, globalisation and the rise of soft-skill intensive jobs, there’s an estimated $8.5tn global skills gap that cannot be solved unless organisations begin to rapidly increase investment into workforce development.
It’s widely understood that it is ‘cheaper to build than buy’ – cheaper to develop existing employee skills than recruit – but, when it comes to employee training and development, many businesses are still lagging behind.
In the UK, both industry and government are waking up to the importance of bringing workforces up to speed with the changing demands of our workplaces.
Upskilling is the focus of the government’s recent Skills for Jobs white paper and reskilling and upskilling ranked highly in the 2020 L&D Global Sentiment Survey. During Covid, LinkedIn research shows that workers are spending more time learning (130% increase), more L&D leaders are prioritising reskilling (64% see it as more of a priority now than ever), and CEOs are championing L&D harder (159% increase).
But, there are challenges to overcome. L&D infrastructure is still dominated by traditional, siloed technology sold by big players and designed for HR rather than optimised for learning.
Additionally, many companies lack clear L&D strategies to empower and encourage greater investment in proper workforce development. Even though L&D could help solve some of the most pressing issues businesses face, it’s often isolated and disconnected from the goals and plans of wider business practice.
Based on interviews, research, and case studies, the report highlights five key workforce development trends that require our attention in the coming decade.
Digital transformation has placed L&D under the spotlight. By 2030, workplace learning will have moved far beyond simply replacing face-to-face classroom sessions with online sessions. Technology will drive a shift in workplace development from transferring learning to transforming performance.
2. Learning in the flow of life
Learning will become increasingly pervasive and seamless in the fabric of our lives. Rather than a separate activity, learning in the flow of work will become the norm. ‘Training’ and ‘development’ will no longer be an activity requiring employees to stop what they’re doing and make a dedicated effort – physically or digitally – to switch to it.
3. Data and AI for personalisation
Data and AI will better enable employees to learn what is most relevant to them at the time that they need it and in the format that they prefer. It will also allow learners to track progress and develop a constantly evolving and personalised learning pathway.
4. Coaching, mentoring and management
Increasingly, the role of L&D will be to support managers to support their team. Rather than treating training as something external, managers must be empowered with the time, skills, and tools to help their team perform better.
5. Changing role of L&D
L&D will become ever more focused on business aims and far more integrated into the business. Empowering people to learn in a curiosity-driven learning culture and supporting them as they do so will replace the traditional L&D tasks of creating and delivering courses.
The workforce development market is large, open and ripe for evolution.
Where big learning management system providers once dominated, we are now seeing a wave of new and more agile players emerging to meet the growing needs of employers and offering innovative assessment, performance management and talent marketplace platforms.
Our report shows exciting opportunities for technology to drive change, particularly in the world of startups, in four key areas:
Skill assessment —> How do I improve, if I can’t define?
Supported career pathways —> Getting employees from A to B
Applied, collaborative learning —> Increased sharing, uptake, engagement and self-motivation
Tailored learning experiences —> Improving relevance and impact
The last five years of technological innovation have started moving the needle towards workplace development that places a greater emphasis on skills, as well as more flexible and personalised resources and opportunities.
It’s also clear that while the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown in new challenges to workplace development, it has also sped up awareness and appetite for technology-enhanced learning.
However, we are still just scratching the surface of the potential workplace development can offer businesses and individuals.
The future of workplace development demands better measurement of skills, more effective skills-building through tailored learning experiences and collaboration platforms, and solutions that help employees progress throughout their careers.
The future doesn’t mean having access to more content, but having access to targeted, specialist content that drives results.
The future doesn’t welcome siloed L&D and talent departments, but rather workforce development that runs across the whole organisation.
The future is not about the boxes ticked and hours studied, but the progress made and results achieved.
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