The COVID-19 pandemic has made the issue of training and retraining urgent rather than just a future necessity. In 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that up to 375 million workers—or 14 percent of the global workforce—would have to switch occupations or acquire new skills by 2030 because of automation and artificial intelligence. They reported that 87 percent of executives were already experiencing skill gaps in the workforce or expected them within a few years. Less than half of respondents had a clear sense of how to address the problem. COVID-19’s impact has forced companies to quickly learn how to match workers to new roles and activities. More than remote working, automation, and AI, it’s about reskilling and upskilling the workforce to deliver new business models in the post-pandemic era.
According to a recent McKinsey article “To emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, companies should start reskilling their workforces now” this is the time for companies to commit to reskilling. Key points from the article:
- The talent strategy must develop employees’ digital and cognitive capabilities, social and emotional skills, adaptability and resilience.
- Committing now to reskilling strengthens companies against future disruptions.
- Per a recent Gartner CFO survey: 75% of CFOs plan to “shift at least 5 percent of previously on-site employees to permanently remote positions post-COVID-19.”
- Many employees “learned by doing” or received “quick and dirty” training during the first phase of the crisis. Continued remote work will keep posing an upskilling challenge.
- Managers face a learning curve as they figure out how to lead teams virtually while building social capital and maintaining cohesion.
- COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of fully digitized approaches to re-create the best of in-person learning through live video and social sharing. This has made it possible to scale learning efforts in a cost-effective, personalized way.
Six Steps to Reskilling
McKinsey outlines six steps to ensure that their employees are equipped with the skills critical to their recovery business models.
- Rapidly identify the skills your recovery business model depends on.
- Build employee skills critical to your new business model.
- Launch tailored learning journeys to close critical skill gaps.
- Start now, test rapidly, and iterate.
- Act like a small company to have a big impact.
- Protect learning budgets (or regret it later).
Final Thoughts on Training and Retraining
- Companies can’t be resilient if their workforces aren’t. Building your reskilling strategy now is the first step to ensuring that your organization’s recovery business model is a success.
- According to NPR’s Is Remote Work Here To Stay?, approximately half of the entire American workforce is now remote. This is higher than previous estimates, and impacts reskilling strategy, making training and retraining more urgent.