When we think of words like automation, artificial intelligence, and digital transformation, we don’t normally associate it with threats to the future of the workplace. However, over the past few years, a steady stream of jobs has been taken over by automation, and increasingly people are becoming obsolete. Even the late Stephen Hawking warned us about the perils of how artificial intelligence is likely to replace humans. A report published by Mckinsey Global Institute states that up to 800 million jobs could be under threat across the world owing to automation.
A relevant example of technological unemployment is the industrial revolution. Despite the high unemployment, the working class feared that technological advancements would take away their livelihood, however, these fears generally proved untrue (Luddite Fallacy). While it is true that the industrial revolution automated many jobs, it also created many more. The problem that most organizations had during this was the upskilling or cross-skilling of the workforce.
This is true today as well. The McKinsey report states that new jobs will be created, current roles will be redefined and existing employees will have to be upskilled to meet the expectations of future jobs. The operative word here is “upskilled.” While this may seem like a simple solution, the problem is that human resource managers, learning and development teams, and skill trainers are likely to have to deal with people from various generations and skill levels. In the next few years, millennials born in the 2000s will enter the workforce and will be working along with employees from Generation X and the baby boomers. This presents a big difficulty for trainers as the current skill level is likely to vary drastically among employees.
Identifying Skill Gaps
To upskill for future jobs, the first step is to conduct a skill-set mapping for all current employees. This will enable the organization to identify and develop training programs or outsource the job if required. The gap between the current and required skill level needs to be identified. Most HR generalists would be well versed in this and would be able to perform the analysis.
Conduct Employee Surveys
A great way to identify gaps that impact performance is to conduct a survey among the employees themselves. Typically, employees are well informed regarding the training programs that can help them graduate to the next level. The information gathered can help both the HR and the L&D teams design and implement effective strategies for employee training needs.
Evaluate Higher Performers
An excellent way to identify gaps in skill levels is to evaluate the employees who perform at a high level consistently. Analyzing their traits, behavior, and skills and using them as a benchmark for other employees enables organizations to bridge the skill gap.
The skill gap analysis assists the HR team with hiring and induction as well. If a detailed skill requirement matrix is compiled for each role, the recruitment team will be able to make better decisions. It also enables the organization to revise outdated job roles and requirements.
Training your workforce
Once the organization has completed the skill-set mapping, a relevant training plan that bridges the gap between current and future requirements needs to be defined. This plan must include the following:
Personal Improvement Plans
These are effective for employees who have received a poor performance review in the recent past. In order to bridge the gap between the current performance and expected performance, a tailored and individual plan can be put in place. Something as simple as a PMP certification or Six Sigma training would be extremely beneficial for project managers or employees in the delivery vertical.
Dynamic Project Management
The days of static project management are long over and most companies are moving towards a dynamic project cycle. Embracing this can also help organizations with their change management protocols and leadership development programs. Agile Certifications and Scrum Master Certifications are extremely helpful in this regard. Any employee, irrespective of their role will find these training programs beneficial as they learn to deal with the ever-changing project environment. These certifications can be conducted using alliance partnerships.
Flexible Training Programs
Skills training for employees is likely to vary based on their educational qualifications, experience, and training. Similarly, the pace at which your employees learn new skills or the means by which they do so may vary. Having training programs that are accessible on their smartphone, having different learning sources and tools are a great way to maximize learning and keep pace with digital transformation.
Measuring the Efficiency of Training
Most businesses spend thousands of dollars annually on employee development. When investing in custom upskilling and training programs, you need to be assured of its results. An outcome-centric approach to custom training helps employees and employers align training programs to business goals.
Change Management is the Future
In order to avoid facing a similar issue in the future, organizations must go by the maxim that the future is already here. Change management is also an important part of the process. As with the Luddites who lost their jobs to automated machinery, modern employees are unlikely to easily accept any change. Rather than enforce revised jobs at some sudden point in the future, organizations can create a step-by-step gradual plan to overcome any resistance. Introducing cross-skilling and up-skilling programs as corporate learning perks is a good first step in this direction.