Why Reskilling is Your Most Important Workforce Development Tool

February 13, 2020 Mina Morris

First Published on LinkedIn


We often default to recruiting externally to fill skills gaps, but the velocity of change in the workforce will make this more challenging than in the past. By 2022, 75 million jobs are expected to be displaced while up to 133 million new jobs are projected to dramatically evolve.

In this environment, many organizations are turning to reskilling to fill critical talent gaps. Even governments are setting strategies in place to be able to reskill entire generations of the workforce, as is the example with the World Economic Forum’s work in partnership with the Indian government to support reskilling task forces.

There are several advantages to taking an inside out view of your talent, and engaging in a re-skilling program to prepare your future business needs. In most cases, you can leverage the workforce data you already have to design a compelling skillset of highly desirable competencies, and cross-training your existing workforce rather than focusing on outside talent. Here are three reasons to incorporate reskilling into your workforce planning strategy. 

Reducing Recruiting ‘Premiums’

The skills your organization needs to become future-ready are likely already in practice in your organization at key points.

As you go to the external market to get new talent to join your team, every decision is likely to be time consuming, expensive and carrying a certain degree of risk. There are ways you can minimize this, of course, through optimizing your search and utilizing appropriate talent assessment tools. However, the fact remains that you will always pay a ‘premium’ to go external, especially for skills that are in extraordinarily high demand.

By taking an internal view first, and focusing on reskilling your workforce, you could have a pipeline of talent that have already been vetted for cultural fit who can be quickly taught the exact skills your organization needs. With a reskilling framework in place, your existing workforce can stay relevant at a much lower cost.

The skills your organization needs to become future-ready are likely already in practice in your organization at key points. These are the skills that create the most value at your organization, and standardizing them is an important step in preparing your workforce for the future. If you can isolate and identify the most valuable skill sets, they can be replicated across your existing workforce, saving you significant time and effort in recruiting.

Preserving Knowledge and Culture

One of the biggest drawbacks of high turnover, aside from the financial costs, is the loss of institutional knowledge. One of the valuable by-products of having employees with long tenures is the shared experiences, expertise and process knowledge that they acquire which, in turn, can have a positive impact on organizational culture. In addition to general job training, hiring externally requires constantly teaching new cohorts the ins and outs of your business. It also brings the risk of poor cultural fit. New talent takes time to acclimate to these aspects of work that cannot be captured through simple training.

Skills training is much easier to provide, and there is much less to lose when you invest your resources into your existing workforce. Technical training and development can be grafted onto the broad base of basic skills and institutional knowledge and experiences your employees already possess.

Creating Opportunities for Continuous Engagement

New research suggests that the half-life for a professional skill is five years (i.e. every five years, that skill is about half as valuable as it was before). Clearly, that means that organizations to go to the external talent market to get valuable skills are going to create suboptimal workforces, as they are likely to end up with mismatched talent pools. Further, it’s likely going to mean that employees are likely to know that they have limited opportunities for progression, which may mean that there is invest less in their psychological contract with their organization.

Reskilling, on the other hand, presents a blueprint for longevity. Employees know that they are valued for their work ethic and other stable traits, not just their technical skills. Your workforce understands that work is evolving; they will appreciate the direction and resources you provide to continue their professional development. Whether employees choose to make lateral or vertical moves across your company, they will know that they have options.

 

About the Author

Mina Morris

Mina Morris is an Associate Partner with Aon’s Assessment Solution Practice. As an organizational psychologist, Mina works with clients to maximize the effectiveness of their talent selection processes, implement talent management systems and helps organizations manage change. Mina has extensive global experience partnering with clients in North America, Asia Pacific, and Middle East to deliver human capital solutions that help deliver business results.

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