Magazine excerpt: Are we running out of employable people?

Philippe Riveron looks at the influence of digital tools in keeping us employable.

Global unemployment inched down to 5.7% in 2016, and has been steadily decreasing from a sharp spike of 6.2% in 2009.1 And yet, millions of jobs around the world continue to go unfilled because people lack the requisite skills, both in digital and emotional intelligence.

A global report by McKinsey estimates that 30-45% of the working age population around the world is underutilised, and 40% of employers cite “lack of skills” as the main reason for entry-level job vacancies. Furthermore, businesses are finding gaps in recruiting, hiring and retaining associates that meet the demands of today’s customers. 

This is particularly troubling as customer expectations continue to skyrocket, with 73% of consumers expecting customer service to be more convenient and 61% wanting it to be faster, according
to recent reports by Accenture. 

The digital learning revolution

The good news is that advanced technologies like AI, machine learning, social media and predictive analytics are already playing a significant role in changing the way businesses look at recruiting new associates and up-skilling their current workforce to meet the demands of today’s digitally empowered consumer.

If businesses want to stay competitive in our increasingly digital world, it is critical they begin tapping into next-generation technologies

Estimates show that the smart education market could grow from less than $200bn in 2016 to more than $585bn by 2021, at an annual rate of nearly 25%. 

If businesses want to stay competitive in our increasingly digital world, it is critical they begin tapping into next-generation technologies to successfully pair prospective associates with positions that suit their professional interests and experiences.

They need to develop training programmes that foster associates’ growth and keep their skillsets relevant, and provide workers with dynamic and flexible workplace environments in order to boost happiness and retention and, as a result, increase productivity, customer satisfaction and the bottom line. 

Virtual recruiting drives new opportunities

The prevalence of online talent platforms such as LinkedIn,, and others are increasingly connecting people to work opportunities that are relevant to their backgrounds, interests and skillsets.

And their impact has the potential to be significant and life-altering for struggling jobseekers. McKinsey reports that as many as 60m people could find work that more closely suits their skills or preferences, while an additional 50m could shift from informal to formal employment.

One example is LinkedIn’s latest initiative, a free mentoring service that has been touted as a ‘Tinder-style feature’ that identifies potential mentors and mentees in a particular area or industry and facilitates a match.

The benefit of virtual advising programmes like those of LinkedIn and others is that it gives young professionals the opportunity to connect with leaders and experts in a particular space, without having to be in the same physical location.

Additionally, correspondence can take the more convenient form of texting, FaceTime or email, as opposed to more traditional and time-consuming in-person meetings. Mentors can also facilitate introductions to jobseekers and help them network via these digital channels.

Flexible training creates (and retains) an agile workforce

Digital learning is particularly attractive to Millennials who, having grown up with a phone, tablet or computer at their fingertips, value time, efficiency and personalised attention above all else. In fact, a study by Deloitte finds that 88% of millennials wish they could have greater opportunity to start and finish work at the times they choose. 

The flexibility of online training during and after the onboarding process will signal to Millennials that your company values their time as much as they do, and this will only work to foster loyalty. Businesses must also acknowledge the value of digital training tools when it comes to helping associates achieve a successful work-life balance.

This is an abridged version of a feature from November’s TJ Magazine. To get the full story, subscribe to the magazine here

Even as major companies like IBM seek to bring associates back into the office, the nature of work is irrevocably changed  by the ubiquity of technology and the benefits it provides in terms of work-life balance. Overall, remote working continues to increase, with nearly 80% of surveyed knowledge workers around the world now working outside of the office.

There is no denying that investing in the employee experience has an immediate and significant return on happiness and retention, and, ultimately, your bottom line. In fact, one percentage point of attrition reduction equates to about £3m to your bottom line.

Training across time and place

Digital tools are improving communication and transparency across industries, which is helping to eliminate the generational gaps and locational differences that may  have previously proven difficult for  businesses. Additionally, the use of data analytics and AI in recruiting is helping to eliminate hiring biases.

There are currently five generations in the workforce. But whether you’re a Baby Boomer logging 40 years on the job, or a Gen Z newly minted graduate entering the workforce for the first time, training styles and mediums are evolving to personalise learning for every employee.

This is especially important as our remote workforce continues to grow – in the US alone, 40% of employers are allowing associates to regularly work from home. This reality requires employees, regardless of age or location, to connect through digital methods almost constantly throughout the workday.

Additionally, using AI-focused tools to pre-screen candidates helps recruiters identify candidates for a particular position based on their skills and interests, rather than their background or location.

For example, emotion recognition software company Affectiva measures interviewees’ emotional intelligence and truthfulness during video interviews by examining their facial expressions, word choice, speech rate and vocal tones. This allows businesses to win top talent from around the world and match candidates with positions most suitable to their skills and preferences.


About the author

Philippe Riveron is CEO and founder of Learning Tribes


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