TRAIN­ING & DE­VEL­OP­MENT

Why is it crit­i­cal to make a blue­print of fu­ture skills?

The HR Digest - - Content Features -

Are we on the verge of a skill cri­sis?

The chal­lenge is self-ev­i­dent: the an­i­mat­ing pace of in­no­va­tive change has con­tracted the time span of us­abil­ity of skills gained by to­day’s col­lege grad­u­ates to only a cou­ple of years. In a Deloitte sur­vey (2013) of ex­ec­u­tives at large cor­po­ra­tions, 39% said they were ei­ther “barely able” or “un­able” to ad­dress their needs to tal­ent. Be­sides, it’s a fairly com­mon prac­tice with large com­pa­nies these days where they re­place thou­sands of em­ploy­ees with more dig­i­tally skilled work­ers. But, there’s a way we can work around the dig­i­tal cords in the in­dus­try. Rather than hir­ing new tal­ent, why not quickly reskill the hun­dreds of thou­sands of em­ploy­ees we al­ready have.

How do we meet tal­ent short­ages? Can we look into the ex­ter­nal la­bor mar­ket? Or, should we de­velop our own in­ter­nal la­bor mar­ket?

Let’s just say that we’re in the mid­dle of the

skills shift. Around 20 per­cent of to­day’s work­force has the re­quired skills for 60 per­cent of the jobs that will be coming to the mar­ket within the next decade. But, we need com­pa­nies to be aware of and un­der­stand this ma­jor shift. Com­pa­nies with a strong brand must en­sure to give the op­por­tu­nity to its em­ploy­ees to reskill. Let’s take a look at one of AT&T’S story, which might per­haps serve as a

blue­print to com­pa­nies who’re about to em­bark on to their own trans­for­ma­tional jour­neys.

AT&T’S ap­proach not just gives its em­ploy­ees an open door that en­cour­ages loy­alty, it ad­di­tion­ally en­sures the re­spectabil­ity and pro­gres­sion of the in­sti­tu­tional knowl­edge and in­for­mal net­works that make com­pa­nies run. It rec­og­nizes that while they can (and do) en­roll for new skills, the sup­ply of

tech­ni­cal tal­ent with “hot” tal­ent is more or less, limited, and com­pe­ti­tion for it is cut­throat.

The process du­ra­tion for new tech­nol­ogy has com­pacted and will keep on do­ing so. To­day’s most sought-af­ter new skills in ro­bot­ics, vir­tual re­al­ity, soft­ware, and the likes will evolve ob­so­lesce, so it’s savvy to in­vest, as AT&T is do­ing, in build­ing a cul­ture of con­tin­ual rein­ven­tion, as op­posed to depend­ing on the out­side mar­ket for tal­ent.

What makes it worse, is that there are no poli­cies in place to ad­dress this. The ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem plays a crit­i­cal role here. Lead­ing schools like Har­vard and

Yale, are ex­pand­ing their pro­grams so the next gen­er­a­tion of work­force is pre­pared for a con­tin­uum of a ca­reer, rather than just one. To­day, the no­tion that ed­u­ca­tion ends at the un­der­grad­u­ate level, the mas­ter’s level, or PH.D is a dated idea.

We need to learn by now that the sys­tem­atic, in­dus­trial-age cor­po­rate lad­der for ca­reer de­vel­op­ment had led to the dig­i­tal-age cor­po­rate lat­tice, with mul­ti­di­rec­tional ca­reer paths. Each one of us is re­spon­si­ble for play­ing an ac­tive role in en­sur­ing the rel­e­vance of our skills and the con­tin­ued pro­gres­sion of our ca­reers. One ap­proach to do as such is to in­ter­mit­tently mar­ket the job mar­ket with skills, de­vel­op­ing those skills that are mar­ket rel­e­vant. Visit on­line post sites to keep a check on which skills the mar­ket is look­ing for and which ones are emerg­ing. An­other ap­proach to de­velop your ca­reer is to mak­ing

your­self mar­ketable for some emerg­ing ca­reer pos­si­bil­i­ties, thus con­tin­u­ally brush­ing up your port­fo­lio with newer skills and ex­pe­ri­ences.

If you’re an en­gi­neer, it’s safe to say that in the next five years or so, hav­ing a ro­bot­ics or vir­tual re­al­ity ex­pe­ri­ence would be an added bonus. Now, this is what we call the dig­i­tal-age cor­po­rate lat­tice, where one con­tin­u­ally adds emerg­ing skills to com­pli­ment core com­pe­tency. The skills, ex­pe­ri­ences and con­nec­tions that landed you the po­si­tion you have to­day are trans­ferrable later on. Rather than climb­ing the lad­der as you may have be­fore, you’ll be all around – lat­eral and di­ag­o­nal.

Per­for­mance and job mo­bil­ity are two as­pects tied to tal­ent prac­tices as well as cul­tural changes. Em­ploy­ees with long tenures are val­ued, how­ever, peo­ple are now cau­tioned to not stay in any role for far too long. The rea­son­ing is that if you’re do­ing the same job for more than 3 to 5 years, it means that you may not de­velop, build new skills, ex­tend­ing net­works, and so forth. Com­pen­sa­tion is an­other ter­ri­tory where job sta­tus has been deem­pha­sized. Rather, more vari­able com­pen­sa­tion pre­mi­ums, for ex­am­ple, bonuses are used to mo­ti­vate higher per­form­ers, and to rec­og­nize the new job skills, without mak­ing it a qual­i­fi­ca­tion that fu­ture com­pen­sa­tion in­cre­ments de­pend on.

De­spite con­trary be­lief, such pro­grams give chances to keep em­ployee pop­u­la­tions rel­e­vant, and so those with rel­e­vant skills are less likely to get dis­in­ter­me­di­ated. In the near fu­ture, it’s more likely that a boomer tech worker will need to in­vest in get­ting new skills that a mil­len­nial may have learned in school. How would you en­gage and re­tain em­ploy­ees to learn new skills, when we re­al­ize that en­gage­ment is a test only for nor­mal work?

En­gage­ment has al­ways re­mained one of top con­cerns for the hu­man re­sources. If you look at en­gage­ment in­sights, by far most of in­di­vid­u­als are not ef­fec­tively en­gaged. So when it comes to un­lock­ing the po­ten­tial of your work­force, en­gage­ment is true mea­sure. Sev­eral com­pa­nies are now map­ping the blue­print of their fu­ture ca­pa­bil­i­ties they will need. Ama­zon Inc., for ex­am­ple, re­cently

launched a new tuition as­sis­tance pro­gram called Ca­reer Choice. What makes the pro­gram in­ter­est­ing — be­side its 95% tuition re­im­burse­ment — is that it rec­og­nizes that while a few peo­ple will make their pro­fes­sions at Ama­zon, oth­ers will use it to some­thing else. Ca­reer Choice un­der­stands this, pro­vid­ing em­ploy­ees with am­ple of op­por­tu­ni­ties to brush up their skills and train­ing that will lead to ca­reer bet­ter­ment. Through this pro­gram, Ama­zo­ni­ans are get­ting to be at­ten­dants, IT helpdesk ex­perts, phar­macy tech­ni­cians, and busi­ness truck driv­ers—all job fields that are pop­u­lar, and that give op­por­tu­ni­ties for per­sonal and pro­fes­sional growth.

If you can per­suade your em­ploy­ees that they are deeply in­volved—and in­te­gral to—the rein­ven­tion of the or­ga­ni­za­tion, you can thus in­crease en­gage­ment, prof­itabil­ity, and suc­cess.

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