Future of Work Series (Part 2 of 4)


The Future of Work - we live and work in the present however we need to prepare for the future. This is the second part of this four-part series where we share predictions from Fortune 500 companies around their research and future of work. Go here to read that article. Moving into the second part of the series: Skill Development.

  • Part 1 - Future of Work,

  • Part 2 - Skill Development,

  • Part 3- Selection Process,

  • Part 4 - Jobs of the Future.

Part 2 of this series focuses on the future of skill development, competencies, skills and upskilling within your organization, competencies.


What Does the Future Look Like? New world! New skills!


The second issue of the World Economic Forum’s “Future of Jobs” report predicts the loss of 75 million jobs by 2025. But it also predicts the creation of 133 million jobs thanks to the digital revolution. The end result is a positive balance of 58 million jobs; pretty optimistic, right?


What does this actually mean for people looking to prepare for the future? Let’s start with defining these words: skills, competencies, upskilling, training, and development:


Skills are a learned power by doing something competently and a developed aptitude or ability.


While competencies are nothing but a set of skills, behavior, attitude, and knowledge that makes an employee the most productive and accomplished.


Upskilling The term upskilling refers to the expansion of people’s capabilities and employability to fulfill the talent needs of a rapidly changing economy.


Training vs. Development Training programs are organized by a business to develop employees' knowledge and skills as per their job requirements.

On the other hand, development is not directly related to job requirements, rather it aims at the generic development of the individual employees for the long run.


Think of this way- training is mostly provided to teach new skills while development focuses on improving existing skills.


It is vital to pay attention to both training and development equally to stay ahead of the competition.


Skills Of The Future


The World Economic Forum reports predicts Power Skills (aka soft skills) will shift around and having an active learning mindset is extremely important.

OnetOnline.com is a trusted government source that HR professionals visit when preparing job descriptions, skills and competencies. THe skills identified above in WEF ranking are also identified as key skills for individuals to develop.

  • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

  • Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.

  • Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.

  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

  • Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.

  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.

  • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated changes in how and where we work. For many organizations the crisis brought to the forefront the discrepancy between the skills people have and those needed for jobs in the digital world. Let’s see how an employee transitions from their job now as it becomes more automated.


Case Study


Imagine that you’re one of millions of people whose job is threatened by digital technology. You’re the compliance officer at a bank, an operations manager on an assembly line, a graphic designer, a programming debugger, or a lighting coordinator for a photographer. Sometimes your job is so bound up in routine, you joke that it could be handled by a computer. Then the joke becomes reality. You are asked to help design the automated processes that will replace your position in a year.


You are shocked at first; then worried; and then, if you’re very lucky, you find out that an upskilling initiative has been set up in your company, perhaps in partnership with other organizations in your region. Artificial Intelligence (AI) changed your job functions and made it possible to automate tasks that were repetitive. Now for you to take a new job means changing roles, maybe changing companies, and undergoing an intensive 15-week training program. You discuss this with a career counselor and decide to sign up for the training program. After going through a trial period you are offered a position full time and your retirement and healthcare benefits carry over. You’re even paid a welcome bonus. You aren’t a layoff statistic; you are an example of the vital role upskilling will play in our turbulent digital economy (Source: Strategy + Business).


Start Upskilling Your People Now


There is a severe shortage of qualified talent for the new digital economy. Jobs requiring knowledge of AI, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are going unfilled in ever-greater numbers. Estimates suggest that U.S. software-related jobs are growing at 6.5 percent annually — almost twice the rate of jobs in general — and that in Europe, there will be a high-tech skills gap of more than 500,000 unfilled positions by 2020.


Together, these two trends have broadened the gap between the employees of the present and the workforce of the future — hence the recent interest in upskilling.


Upskilling the global workforce to bridge the digital divide is a complex problem that requires business leaders, governments and educators to work together to make the world a more resilient, more capable and more inclusive place.


Upskilling is not the same as reskilling, a term associated with short-term efforts undertaken for specific groups (for example, retraining steelworkers in air-conditioning repair or lock-smithing). Reskilling doesn’t help much if there are too few well-paying jobs available for the retrained employees. An upskilling effort, by contrast, is a comprehensive initiative to convert applicable knowledge into productive results — not just to have people meet classroom requirements, but to have them move into new jobs and excel at them. It involves identifying the skills that will be most valuable in the future, the businesses that will need them, the people who need work and could plausibly gain those skills, and the training and technology-enabled learning that could help them — and then putting all these elements together.


Reminder, this is about people - YOUR people. People respond to challenges and opportunities and together you determine how your future of work plays out in your company and for your people. The bottom line is you need training and development equally you build a more efficient, motivated and productive culture in your workplace.


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