Preparing your people for the future of work…

Over the last 18 months we’ve been exploring how future of work disruptions, things like technological, demographic and socio-economic disruptions, will lead to changes in the employment landscape and skills requirements. These changes will result in significant challenges for recruiting, training and managing talent – some of which our members are already starting to experience.

Companies may find themselves in the situation of having positive employment demand for hard-to-recruit special roles, while at the same time experiencing skills instability across many current roles. Staff in lower skilled roles may find themselves being made redundant before having had the chance to re-skill. Companies could decide that re-training a large part of the workforce is not an investment they’re willing to make.

So what can be done?

Create a talent re-training strategy. According to the report, Australia’s Future Workforce by CEDA (modelling almost five million Australian jobs) – around 40 per cent of the workforce face the high probability of being replaced by automation in the next 10 to 15 years. While there’s no doubt that new jobs will also be created, many organisations need to consider how they will re-train staff if they want employees to be ready to move into new roles as and when required and avoid redundancies.

By mapping new and emerging job categories, anticipating redundancies and changing skills requirements, businesses can start to form effective talent re-training strategies.

As well as some good insights into where the business is headed and what talent will be needed (more about that in the next post), a shift in mindset about the transferability of skills is needed so that both employees and employers have a realistic view of what’s required to repurpose employee’s roles.

As part of their New Work Order series, The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) recently released a report titled the New Work Mindset. In it they discuss the urgent need to shift mindsets in our approach to jobs, careers and work. Using big data analysis they have identified 7 job clusters and discovered that not all jobs require the acquisition of an entirely new skill set. Instead, the skill sets of many jobs are ‘portable’ to other jobs. They report that on average, when an individual trains or works in one job, they acquire skills for 13 other jobs.

Knowing that re-training isn’t going to require a complete over-haul of people’s roles makes the task of designing a training strategy less daunting.

Here are some questions to prompt your thinking when embarking on a re-training strategy:

  • what’s your business strategy and what skills will/not be needed in the future to achieve it?
  • what areas of your business are the most likely targets for automation?
  • what skills will you need more of?
  • which skills/ experience do you really struggle to find in the market?
  • which roles can you start to retrain now?
  • will the company pay for all re-training or will staff be asked to contribute?
  • can you partner with private/ government organisations that have complementary resources?
  • how big are the resource gaps and how urgently do you need to close them?

You might find that it is more efficient to retrain people into those difficult to fill, specialist roles than you think. The knowledge of your organisation and selecting people with skills set from within the same cluster could significantly reduce the time and cost in equipping them for a new role.

Identifying the skill sets within your current roles will better position your organisation to respond to the opportunities of technological, social and economic change. By planning your re-training strategy now you will be better placed to pivot your workforce in new directions and reduce both redundancies and recruiting.