Why employers that upskill their learners have the advantage

by Brett Henebery29 Jun 2017

According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Future of Jobs report, the world is in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which heralds a fundamental shift not only in the way people communicate, but work.

The advent of emerging industries such as AI will be felt in transformations to skills requirements, resulting in substantial challenges for recruiting, training and managing talent.

“Not anticipating and addressing such issues in a timely manner over the coming years may come at an enormous economic and social cost for businesses, individuals and economies and societies as a whole,” the report stated.

As this revolution rapidly takes shape, one major challenge is the digital skills gap – a gap that has the potential to make or break learners in a competitive employment landscape.

Lisa Morris, Senior Regional Director for Hays Human Resources, told L&D Professional that employers need to be investing in the digital upskilling of their employees, but more often than not this is being left to individuals to ensure their own digital skills continue to grow.

“That’s why jobseekers are focused on finding those employers that will offer them an opportunity to grow their skills on-the-job. These employers have a real attraction advantage today,” Morris said.

“As we continue to see rapid technological advances change the competencies required to do our jobs, more employers will need to provide opportunities for employees to upskill – particularly as the fourth industrial revolution now beckons.”

As for any specific digital skills that employees should be learning but perhaps are not, Morris said this depends on their industry and sector.

“The key point is to be aware of the latest technology and digital trends relevant to your job or industry and upskill accordingly,” she explained.

“For instance, in IT a Developer should become proficient in the recently released Google Cloud IOT and soon-to-be released NET Core 2.0 and consider how AI is making inroads into real world business application.”

Morris said that in the case of architecture, an Architect should gain REVIT (software is specifically built for building information modelling) expertise and learn new technology and tools such as design-to-fabrication and augmented and virtual reality.

Recent reports show growing need to upskill
According to a recent report, 47% of employees want to learn additional digital skills – a statistic that Morris says reflects the need to upskill in the latest technology.

However, another study has found that most learners in the Asia Pacific do not feel empowered to embrace the demands of the digital workplace.

Microsoft’s Asia Workplace 2020 Study found that while 66% of learners consider themselves mobile workers, only 45% feel empowered by their organisation’s culture and management to work together productively and collaboratively.

Morris says this illustrates the need for organisations to provide these skills, and in doing so, address the dual issues of under-skilling and potential loss of talent.

“Employees need to do this in order to continue to perform their job successfully today and tomorrow, and they want to work for an employer that offers them opportunity to do so,” she said.

“Employers should therefore embrace innovation, provide opportunities for their staff to learn on-the-job and keep up-to-date with the latest trends, particularly around new technology and tools.”

Morris says this means that career progression can be linked to offering more challenging work that allows employees to stretch their skills.

“At the same time, the employee’s manager should support them throughout this learning process and set them up to succeed. Digital skills can be part of the stretch opportunity too,” she said.

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