Upskilling the 21st-Century Workforce

As businesses strive to recover from the disruption caused by COVID-19 staff training should focus on upskilling and building your 21st-century workforce.  Equally, individuals should be monitoring their professional development to keep themselves relevant to meet the demands of the future skills economy.  According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), we are experiencing a ‘double disruption’ brought on from the impact of the global pandemic and increasing development of automation both of which are transforming the jobs market and the way employees carry out their jobs.  According to a recent (WEF), future jobs report published in 2020 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025.  Skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving will be among the most sought after skills in the next five years.  Other skills that have been identified in the top ten skills list include self-management, active listening, resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility.  These skills are often referred to as soft skills; they are important because they can act as an indicator of how well somebody engages in their work.  Employees who demonstrate excellent soft skills are usually good communicators and get on well with others and consequently are likely to be pinpointed for promotion or development.

Who Should be Trained?

When it comes to upskilling there is no one size fits all solution; the key to success in staff training involves re-imagining the future of your business/sector and the needs of your clients/customers. It is important to assess one’s professional skills with particular emphasis on technology, problem-solving, working effectively in teams, flexibility, leadership, and adaptability to change. It is also important to consider the upskilling of staff at all levels of the organization as changes to the working environment are forcing us to alter the way we interact at an individual level and organizational level.

The Growth of the Knowledge-Economy

“The most valuable assets of a 20th– century company were it’s production equipment. The most valuable assets of a 21st– century institution, whether business or non-business, will be its knowledge, workers, and their productivity”– Peter Drucker

With the growth of the knowledge economy information is replacing physical labor and the value of a company’s goods and services now includes both tangible and intangible assets. To survive in a knowledge economy leaders, managers and team members need to assess, develop and upgrade their skillsets regularly. Once you have identified the skills that are most crucial to the knowledge economy you are well on the way to keeping yourself relevant and skilled in preparation for the future in your career or sector.  In the current fast-paced knowledge economy, it is no longer enough to have a good CV;  employers are looking for more, they’re looking for employees who demonstrate on-going professional development and focused skill-building.

How to Manage your Ongoing Development

It is important to be focused and strategic when considering your skillset and choosing the right path to take when it comes to training and upskilling. Here are some suggestions that might help:

  • Complete a skills audit – have a look at your CV, your job description, and any other information that helps you to make a list of all your skills. In our training programs and our one to one sessions with clients we frequently complete a transferable skills inventory which encourages our clients to look at their broad skill set.
  • Carry out a skills gap analysis – having made a list of your transferable skills the next task is to identify your career path, job, or promotion that you plan to pursue. Now make a list of the skills and competencies that are required for the particular career path you’ve chosen. Complete the gap analysis by cross-matching your transferable skills with the skills required for the future.  This should result in a shortlist of skills, competencies, or qualifications that are necessary for a future role or career.  This is very simple to do but it does require you to give some careful consideration to your current situation and your plans.  
  • Create an action plan: once you have identified the skills and training that you require to enhance your prospects it is important to create a realistic action plan to ensure your success. For more information on goal setting and action planning check out my previous blog here:
  • Choose industry-approved or certified courses: at this point, it’s important to do the research and choose the right course for you. Professional development courses range from short workshops to longer more in-depth training events.  What you choose depends on (a) the level of commitment you wish to give or (b) the potential benefit that you will gain from signing up for a particular program of study. Certified courses and industry-approved courses should be your first consideration. You don’t want to spend time studying for a qualification that isn’t formally recognized within your industry. Training is costly not only in terms of finance but also in terms of your time so use your time wisely when choosing a path of study.  There are many excellent certified courses out there, too many to mention here but I have written a blog on why to choose a QQI course that might be of help
  • Ask for advice: if you’re unsure about how to proceed it’s always a good idea to ask someone for advice. This might be a supervisor or a manager or somebody who is employed in a role that you might see yourself doing in the future. LinkedIn is a great network of professionals many of whom will be more than willing to offer a bit of friendly advice to someone looking for direction in their career. I use LinkedIn very regularly and I often see people reaching out for advice and the level of response they get from relative strangers is impressive. The most important step to take is to ask in the first place.
  • Communicate Your Career Message: once you have achieved your goals and developed new skills it is vital to communicate your progress to your employer, to an interviewer, or a hiring manager.  An excellent way to ensure that you are amplifying your future skills message is to keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date.

Financial Supports/Incentives:

There are some excellent financial supports available for employees who wish to upskill.  For example, Skillnet Ireland supports over 18,000 businesses and 70,000 employees each year through their upskilling initiatives.  Other initiatives include springboard courses, apprenticeships and a wide range of courses run through the local ETBs.  There is also a government TESG grant of up to €500 to support individuals who have identified short courses that will enhance their career prospects. If you would like any further information on any of the above please feel free to give us a buzz on 051 385720 and we will be happy to point you in the right direction.

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Janet Tumulty 10.2.21