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Future Readiness Is a Vital Capability for TD Professionals

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

To prepare employees and workplaces for the future of work, talent development professionals must understand the changes taking place in their workforce and industry as well as with their competitors, the skills of their current employees, and emerging trends.

Future readiness, one of the 23 capabilities in the Talent Development Capability Model, requires intellectual curiosity and constant scanning of the environment to stay abreast of forces shaping the business world, employees and their expectations, and the talent development profession, according to the book Capabilities for Talent Development.

In a February 2020 TD magazine article, John Coné wrote, “The TD function must lead the organization’s next-skilling for readiness. This is not simply technical training on how new technology works or how to access a new system or its resulting data. Rather, it includes training people on how technology changes jobs and work, how to thrive in those changes, and how to make the best use of technology and the data it yields.”

A TD professional with capability in future readiness will need knowledge of:

  • Internal and external factors that influence talent development (for example, organizational and business strategies, availability of labor, developments in other industries, societal trends, and technological advances)
  • Techniques to promote, support, or generate innovation and creativity (for example, design thinking, brainstorming, and ideation)
  • Emerging learning technologies and support systems (for example, collaborative learning software, learning management systems, authoring tools, and social media)
  • Information-seeking strategies and techniques

An effective TD professional will need to be skilled at:

  • Conducting environmental scanning to identify current and emerging trends in the economy, legislation, competition, and technology
  • Applying their previous learning to future experiences

It is vital, according to Coné, “that TD professionals anticipate, sense, recognize, and quickly leverage change. From external and internal scanning to modeling and promoting creativity and innovation, and from the study of emerging technology to collaboration and networking . . . TD professionals must stay prepared.”


Future Skills

According to The Future of Work: Technology, Predictions, and Preparing the Workforce research report, Dana Alan Koch, global lead of learning research and innovation at Accenture, says soft skills will continue to grow in importance. “Teach people uniquely human skills, like complex problem solving and habit formation,” says Koch. Other future skills Koch identifies include curiosity, storytelling, creativity, and emotional intelligence.

Being able to identify what jobs may be affected by automation or organizational change and look for other internal positions employees in those roles may be suited for is vital for TD professionals. In the report, Tara Deakin, who was the chief talent and development officer at TD Bank Group, shares how her company identified employees whose jobs were at risk of being automated and used capability mapping to match these employees to different roles within the organization based upon their skills and experience.

When people talk about the future of work, they usually group the discussion into two categories: people and technology. In Elisa Marmol’s October 5, 2020, blog post, she noted, “People capabilities like adaptability, curiosity, and resilience enable employees to change with shifting social and economic circumstances, learn and use evolving skills, and weather taxing or risky job demands. Technology capabilities like flexible learning, self-efficacy, and tolerance for ambiguity enable workforces to ask smart questions, be empowered to make difficult decisions, and feel comfortable with fast-changing technology.”

Research shows that many organizations have a long way to go to prepare their workforce for the future. The 2019 ATD Future of Work research report showed that just 24 percent of respondents believed their organization’s workforce was well prepared for the future of work in terms of skills needed. Now is the perfect opportunity for TD professionals to prove the value of learning, upskilling, reskilling, and future readiness.

About the Author

Paula Ketter is ATD's content strategist. Previously, she served as editor of ATD's periodicals.

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