6 steps to close the skills gap for companies

If you want to persuade entrepreneurs, CEOs, and policymakers to do something, you usually need to assign a number of potential benefits.
So, in 2021, the World Economic Forum and PricewaterhouseCoopers calculated that giving people the skills they need to succeed in the economy of the future could add $ 6.5 trillion to global GDP by 2030 – if the skills gap closed, but this bold prediction hid many variables. . For example, the report’s estimates “only reflect the closure of the current perceived skills gap” and did not take into account the potential for new types of jobs due to innovation and automation.
Since 2021, the Great Resignation – the broad term for the trend that took place at the end of the pandemic when millions decided to leave or change jobs – has further complicated the skill mystery of intertwining economic, corporate and individual decisions.
Here’s what I learned by speaking and listening to experts at the latest annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos on how to solve this skill puzzle.
First, assessing what is needed is a dynamic process. Skills play a larger role than they were before in determining how individual employees shape their work, or theirs. At the same time, the skills employees need for the future are changing faster than ever before.
LinkedIn compared the skill members listed as most important for certain positions in 2015 to those for the same positions in 2021. A quarter of those skills changed within six years. The social network estimates that between 39 and 44 percent of the necessary skills could change again by 2025, in part due to the acceleration of automation during the pandemic.
Another report from the World Economic Forum in 2020 suggested that the top five skills for 2025 will include “analytical thinking” and “active learning” – specifically “soft” skills that are difficult to learn, identify and digitize. .
At the individual company level, according to Bob Moretz, global president of PricewaterhouseCoopers, skills acquisition increases trust between employer and employee. He told a Davos committee that employees without skills are more likely to quit.
On the other hand, learning skills, especially in high-demand areas such as information technology and engineering, makes employees more marketable to themselves outside the company or country. Tunisian Prime Minister Najla Boden said it was a problem for developing countries. She noted that a third of Tunisian engineers and entire groups of recent IT graduates are leaving the country after graduating. “We produce competencies with good knowledge, but we absorb little of it,” she said.
Second, the method of assessing work suitability is changing. Employers are increasingly looking at what candidates can do instead of their formal qualifications. A degree can be a useful indication of the mastery of basic knowledge in, for example, physics or mathematics. But “certificate alone does not tell you what’s in the box,” said LinkedIn co-founder Allen Blow.
Jeff Magioncalda, CEO of the online learning platform Coursera, noted that these enduring qualifications need to be combined with high-speed training in emerging tools and technologies.
Blue also points to an important by-product of favoring skills over formal qualifications. A skills-based approach opens the door to hiring potential employees from under-represented backgrounds with non-traditional education, because “it doesn’t really matter where you come from or what kind of experiences you have that made you those skills” (of course , both LinkedIn and Coursera, as platforms that showcase the skills, both of which have a strong interest in fostering a skills-based approach.
Third, to function effectively, skills acquisition programs require the close involvement of employers and educators — and sometimes governments — in redesigning curricula, jobs, and policies.
The Singapore government knew 15 or 20 years ago that its people would need new skills to take advantage of the digital revolution. Singapore’s “secret sauce”, according to Josephine Teo, Minister of Communications and Information, was that everyone came together to design a dynamic and adaptable system.
She noted that some positions in digital marketing, data science and user experience design did not exist at the time, necessitating a flexible approach. “If we expect these job roles to be filled only by people who have come out of the school system, we will have a large number of unemployed people, and that is a great waste of the system and a great tragedy for individuals,” he said. she said. said.
Fourth, workers are not the only ones who need to learn and hone skills. Team leaders, for example, need to adapt to the new flexible and mixed work practices that developed rapidly during the coronavirus restrictions. “We need to empower employees in the use of technology, but we also need to empower managers,” said Kristi Hoffman, general secretary of the World Federation of Trade Unions, which represents service industry employees.
Fifth, in a tight labor market, companies need to “grow their employees”, in the words of Shobana Kamenini, executive vice president of India’s Apollo hospitals.
According to Teo from Singapore, companies do not have the luxury of being able to select from a pool of external candidates, especially in areas that are in demand for recruitment, such as software development. “They have to make the effort[om hul werknemers die vaardighede te gee]”she says,” otherwise they will never be able to appoint. “
Finally, as the Great Unexpected Resignation has shown, employers and economies underestimate the ability of individuals to determine their own future – even if this ability can take a negative form. While some people have an “urgent need” to learn new skills, Salil Parekh, CEO of India’s IT group Infosys, said, “many people do not.”
If employers, and governments, can not instill a “certain level of excitement” about skills acquisition – and convince workers of the need for lifelong learning – everyone will suffer.

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