Does our workforce need an upgrade in the digital age?

Does our workforce need an upgrade in the digital age?

Landing twelve people on the moon remains one of Nasa's greatest achievements. What is more remarkable is that they did it half a century ago, using a hundred times less computing power than an iPhone.

18 August 2020

Will Nasa do the same when it returns to the Moon. Obviously not. They are going to use the best tech available to reduce risk and ensure the success of their mission.

In business, you would do the same. You use the best assets you have to achieve success. And, if your employees are the most valuable assets, then you make sure you hire only the best.

We are now entering a digital age that will see huge changes in our workforce. Certain jobs will become obsolete thanks to technology, yet many more jobs will be created in the new digital economy that emerges.

Upskilling will be crucial

Talented and experienced workers will need to constantly upskill at a rate and pace not experienced before. They will need to constantly adapt their current skillset as their jobs quickly evolve.

In a survey conducted by Adecco Group, two-thirds of respondents saw their job roles changing significantly at least every five years thanks to technological advances. The survey also revealed that employees expected support from the company they work for, in acquiring the new skills that they needed: 77% stated that the training policies of an employer had a significant influence when they considered an employment opportunity.

Companies, especially in Switzerland, will, therefore, need to be mindful of this requirement. It will form an important part of their future employer brand. They will need to offer skilled employees a wide range of options to upskill.

This is likely to become an especially important part of the remuneration package that skilled candidates expect to be offered in the future. It makes complete business sense: not only does it attract talent but also creates a sense of job security that can be used to retain talent.

Where does upskilling fit into a company's digital strategy

Most companies now have a digital strategy to ensure they are up to speed with the rapid pace of change that comes with digitalization. However, this also relies heavily on developing the skills that their current employees have so that they can adapt to this change.

If they fail to do this, then there is a risk that the talent they have hired becomes obsolete. Upskilling is, therefore, a way to reduce business risk.

Before they do this though, they need to define the skills that they need from their employees to be successful in the digital age. After all, not having the right people is like building a home without a blueprint.

Therefore, a clear vision is needed for their company’s future and where their employees fit in. They will also need to make sure that their employees understand this vision and support it.

This is crucial because as upskilling becomes the norm in the digital age, the competition to secure highly talented individuals will intensify. Companies face the challenge of not just trying to find talent but also trying to retain the talent that they have invested heavily in training. Delivering a clear vision of the future shows employees exactly where their valuable new skillset fits in.

It’s hugely motivating and can increase the level of contentment. It shows that a company is likely to maintain its attractive remuneration packages, provide job security, and also provide room for progression.

So, what next?

Upskilling will need to be prioritized by companies to stay ahead of the developments in a rapidly changing business environment brought about by the digital revolution. How well a company can upskill their workforce will be critical. Significant investment will be needed, plus they will have to encourage continuous learning among their skilled workers to remain competitive.

The way that companies design jobs and defines roles for their skilled workers will, therefore, matter a lot. A vision of the future will be needed to incentivize and inspire their workforce to engage in continuous learning and bring the new skills they have acquired into the workplace.

Consequently, it's not just about upgrading the skill set of a company's workforce. It's also about developing a vision of the future and future-proofing the skilled talent that companies have worked hard to develop.

Luca Semeraro

Head of Badenoch & Clark
Zurich, Switzerland

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