How can businesses improve their skilling initiatives in 2021?

Becs Roycroft identifies three simple ways to keep your skills strategy on track. 

In 2018, the World Economic Forum (WEF) predicted that 42% of the in-demand skills across all industries would change between 2018 and 2022. The new world of work and the fourth industrial revolution has introduced huge opportunities, but this rapid pace of change and new demand for specific skills has been a huge challenge for both businesses and employees alike.

Whilst more and more businesses are undergoing digital transformations, the rapid advancement of technology has resulted in widespread difficulties recruiting experienced tech employees, with over 87% of organisations reporting huge digital skills gaps. This suggests that whilst most businesses are aware of, and actively trying to tackle these issues, many are struggling to do so effectively.

In order to remain competitive and overcome this shortage of skilled workers, companies should instead be looking at the potential for redeploying their existing employees from other areas of the business onto their tech teams.

Finding ways to stay competitive and securing a future of good work for all will require an agile mindset with strong initiatives for employee training and upskilling becoming essential.

Below are three ways that businesses can implement skilling and reskilling initiatives into their organisation in 2021 with details around how these programmes can help to attract new talent, retain employees, protect jobs, and add monetary value to the business.

Focus on hiring for aptitude – then train them!

One of the biggest issues that affects businesses finding and sourcing candidates that have the desired skills, is the UKs digital skills gap. According to research by the Learning & Work Institute, the UK is heading towards a ‘catastrophic’ digital skills shortage ‘disaster’, with the number of young people taking IT subjects at GCSE dropping by 40% since 2015.

If greater digital expertise is required, deciding on roles that are needed, such as a greater proportion of digital analysts, is a good place to start.

Therefore, for many employers who are wanting to grow their tech workforce, there are often simply not enough candidates out there with the exact skills they require. And if there are, hiring them is typically extremely costly!

Navigating this challenge is not an easy task, but businesses can alter the way they look for, and train new candidates, when introducing them into the workforce. For example, instead of looking for a candidate that has coding experience, hiring for aptitude could be a more achievable alternative.

Creating a test that a potential candidate can take could help identify if they have the capability to be trained up to code. Then, setting up an internal training scheme, where coding training is given, could be a more viable alternative.

Identify the skills the business needs

To introduce effective skilling programmes within an organisation, it is important for management teams to agree on the skills that the business is in greatest need of. This should be a continual process where expertise and focus areas are identified and then implemented across the internal training scheme – for both new and existing employees.

To begin this process, senior leadership members should first identify the roles required for reaching particular areas of expertise within their firm. If greater digital expertise is required, deciding on roles that are needed, such as a greater proportion of digital analysts, is a good place to start.

Next, it is worth creating an inventory of the skills for each of these desired roles as well as noting down the skills that current employees already have. Using this technique requires businesses to be malleable in their approach and they can therefore look to introduce training that builds on these skills gaps or even move employees around the business to utilise their existing skills in areas that are most needed.

Work with an external training provider

Effectively implementing training schemes that upskill and retrain new and existing employees may be a task that can be best handled with the support of an external provider.

Implementing training to build skills across a business takes an invested interest and effort. There are companies available that have the expertise, time and capacity to work alongside a business, advise on areas where training can be implemented as well as supporting the roll out of these schemes within an organisation.

A benefit of hiring an external training provider is often the ability for them to measure the success of these training programmes. Analysing the impact of the training against a set of intended objectives can be generated and used to present to the senior leadership team as well as used to attract new talent to the company.

According to recent research completed by GetApp, business shifts caused by the pandemic have meant that required skill sets have changed for over 84% of businesses.

It is undoubtable that training and upskilling new and existing employees has never been a greater priority for businesses with such a rapid pace of change over the past twelve months changing the required skills of our workers, almost overnight.

For businesses that wish to attract new talent, keep current employees happy and remain competitive within their sector, adapting their hiring and onboarding strategy to cater for the skill sets currently available in the market, and implementing training programmes internally that work to build on employee’s current capabilities, are investments worth making.


About the author

Becs Roycroft is Senior Director of Global Emerging Talent & Reskill Operations at mthree


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