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February 2020
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TD Magazine

Pour On the Skills Knowledge

Employees are looking to employers to help them develop the necessary skills for the future.

It's hard to escape the topic of the future of work. The world of work as we know it is changing. With that comes the need to upskill employees.

And that fact is not lost on companies or workers. Consulting firm WestMonroe Partners recently released The Upskilling Crisis: Effectively Enabling and Retraining Employees for the Future, which confirmed that. Almost two-thirds of employees and HR leaders acknowledge that technology enables them to produce high-quality work. Yet, more than half (56 percent) likewise note that their organization has a moderate to severe skills gap. While the majority of employees believe that over the next three to five years their skills will become outdated, they also think their employers should provide them with the necessary development. The Upskilling Crisis is based on two surveys the firm conducted, one of 1,000 US employees and another of 430-plus HR leaders.

Some companies are starting to place more emphasis on resolving this skills gap—for instance, Amazon has announced a $700 million-plus investment in reskilling one-third of its US workforce over six years. But that doesn't mean that putting together any type of skills training program is the correct approach and will net the right outcomes.

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WestMonroe Partners advises companies to "consider the employee journey and how a selected tool will add value." The report states, "Organizations that don't put their people at the center of the upskilling initiative run the risk of rolling out a program only to have it fail by lack of adoption." The firm further calls out that companies can only reap the benefits of technology if their employees can use that technology effectively.

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Slightly more than half of respondents said they prefer in-person classroom training for learning new technology; this preferred method surpassed other options, such as virtual instructor-led training and online or self-study, each favored at just 13 percent.

WestMonroe Partners also identified managers as a critical component for tackling the challenges that come with upskilling, technology adoption, and disruption. According to the report, "When managers have the proper skills training and resources, they spend less time on low-level tasks and are equipped to develop their teams."

About the Author

Joy Metcalf is the managing editor of TD and CTDO magazines and TD at Work.

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