Meeting the Needs of the Global Economy: Workforce Reskilling at Scale

June 17, 2022 | Reskill Your Workforce | 8min read

How can the global workforce sustain 24/7 service from anywhere to anyone when there are simply not enough skilled workers to fill the demand? Despite the current environment of uncertainty, we know that the skills gap continues to dampen productivity for many global enterprises. Some studies also reveal that the skills shortage is one factor contributing to the inflationary pressures as employers continue to outbid each other for the same constraint pool of skilled talent. According to Korn Ferry’s report, Future of Work: The Global Talent Crunch, if left unchecked, by 2030, the cumulative impact of this talent shortage could cost $8.5 trillion dollars in unrealized annual revenue.

This skills deficit is pervasive and is not limited to the support side of global business. Organizations are challenged to find innovators who can provide business creativity to solve problems and drive sustainable, valuable outcomes. Hiring managers struggle to find qualified individuals with mission-critical leadership skills, business acumen, data and analytics skills, software coding experience, and cloud computing and cybersecurity expertise.

The skills gap is further exacerbated as technology evolves at an accelerated rate and redefines how to do business globally.

On an individual level, the economic disruption created by the pandemic gave people an opportunity to rethink and rebalance their lives and careers. Today, people view their jobs in a different light; they want careers that have a meaningful impact on their communities and enrich their own lives. Businesses are being forced to adapt. The ability to develop new skills is often cited a key motivator for many workers. We have observed in our own work that organizations that meaningfully invest in upskilling and reskilling of their employees materially improve employee retention. This ultimately leads to sustained productivity and value for the business.

Given the Stakes, Businesses must own this Reskilling Imperative

As this is largely an issue of supply and demand, it follows that businesses must close the gap by investing in the supply-side of their skills pipeline. Our traditional education institutions simply do not produce enough skilled talent to meet the demand, and they do not respond quickly to changes brought on by technology and other factors. The need for people to learn new skills is paramount, but it also compounds the problem. Since these are skills that run the gamut across silos and verticals, it becomes challenging to find a single solution that can empower success for all.

Not just “hard skills” like coding, data science, cybersecurity, and cloud computing are lacking. The need for effective leadership has never been more important in what has become a highly virtualized, remote, and socially distant world. In a time where most people are always online, connected, and instantly accessible, it is stunning how isolating and lonely the virtual workplace can be. The need for leadership has never been more critical in bringing teams together and rallying around a common goal.

Unfortunately, only 41% of organizations believe their leadership development programs build leaders in a way that benefits the business (Global Human Capital Trends 2019 report published by Deloitte). Successful programs have adapted to develop a curriculum that offers balance, encompassing hard skills and power skills, like communication and collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving, empathy, teamwork, creativity, and adaptability.

Investing in employee skills is crucial for success, but only 34% of workers today feel supported by their organization’s skill development opportunities.

A Robust Skilling Strategy Makes Sense

According to Gallup, the cost of replacing an employee can be as high as two times the employee’s annual salary. Comparatively, upskilling or reskilling is a much smaller investment for a company than recruiting, hiring, and training a new employee.

Upskilling and reskilling employees does more than boost a company's bottom line — it creates a happier workforce. It improves retention, attracts new talent, helps employees see a path to career advancement, and gets them excited about new possibilities. In addition, employees who invest in learning and skill-building are more likely to stay up to date with industry trends, make better recommendations, and offer keener insights to clients and prospects.

While upskilling and reskilling are solid strategies, not all skills, positions, and roles are the same. So, the next hurdle is — how can you invest in all your employees’ skills cost-effectively? Many first movers are taking control of their employees' professional learning experiences using the newest insights learning science offers.

Leveraging Technology to Bridge the Skills Gap

The same advances in technology that are in part contributing to the skills gap can help to close it. Leaders are looking for trusted, reliable, and (most importantly) effective learning solutions — a mechanism that accelerates productivity and doesn’t disrupt the flow of work. Employees want a marketable and intuitive pathway to learn skills they can use to contribute to the success of the business and also build their own capabilities.

Curated pathways or journeys that guide learners are increasingly critical, especially for higher-stakes outcomes; not everyone is naturally curious or fully understands what they need to learn. With so many options available today, learners can choose to consume live instruction, video content, reading, audio, or whatever works best, but the myriad of options can be overwhelming. They need encouragement and a level of didactic structure to help them on their way. Learning pathways and skill benchmarks correlated to in-demand roles help learners find their appropriate learning journey more readily.

Similarly, for those in leadership positions, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when the task is to plan the career development for a range of individual employees. Leaders seek an intuitive and scalable solution that can serve the various needs of their workforce — to provide personalization and structure that doesn't require a massive investment of time to enable.

As the skills that learners need change, so should how organizations teach those skills. Businesses need flexible, more diverse learning experiences if they want a scalable outcome. They cannot just hire their way out of the problem. This leads to increased competition and wage inflation for the same constrained pool of talent. Ultimately, they will just trade resources and dampen productivity.

To address this constantly evolving skill landscape, Skillsoft leverages technology and learning science to provide tools and activities that address many of these issues directly.

We offer solutions for:

  • Onboarding
  • Upskilling
  • Reskilling
  • Learning in the flow of work
  • Coaching for leaders
  • Project-based learning and hands-on practice
  • Cohort-based learning

We curate these solutions into a system of learning journeys, which offers a blend of learning resources, including self-study on-demand courses, hands-on labs, live instruction, coaching, and an expansive digital books library. We align these learning journeys to in-demand skills based on the analytics of more than 45 million learners and skills insights from partners like Burning Glass Technologies.

We believe that these capabilities provide the foundation to achieve workforce transformation at scale, ultimately enabling employers and employees alike to close the skills gap and reach their fullest potential.