Career and Jobs

Using Technology To Drive Skilling And The Post-Pandemic Recovery

America’s nation-wide labor shortage continues to serve as a major barrier to economic recovery, with nine in ten state and local Chambers of Commerce reporting that worker shortages are holding their economies back. To address this “national economic emergency,” the Chamber proposed increased investment into employer-led job education and training programs to provide Americans with needed skills for the most in-demand jobs. While this is a crucial first step, organizations must take this opportunity to rethink how they approach job training more broadly, especially given the fact that rapid advances in technology often mean that even newly acquired skills have a limited shelf life.

In addition to investing in reskilling initiatives, it is critical that organizations realize that reskilling is not simply a one-time exercise, but a continuous, career-spanning journey that must be informed by data and predictive analytics. Only through a data-driven, targeted reskilling approach can we successfully help individuals’ future-proof their careers by teaching them the right skills at the right time. This will ultimately result in higher wages for workers, bring more people back to work, and provide businesses with the talent they need to get our economy back on track.

Talent scarcity is so widespread and varied across the entire workforce. This is one reason the current labor shortage is so difficult to tackle. Both small businesses and large corporations have open positions they can’t fill, and while much has been made of the dearth of workers in service industries like restaurants and retail, higher paying sectors like healthcare and tech are also struggling to find talent with the specialized skills they require.

While businesses are having trouble attracting talent, workers have also expressed difficulty adjusting to the new normal. According to a recent worker survey from Monster, 86 percent of workers feel their career has stalled during the pandemic, 54 percent don’t believe they have the skills to succeed in the new world of work, and 34 percent think the best way to advance their career is to leave their current job and find a new employer.

When you combine the fact that women left the workforce in unprecedented numbers during the pandemic with the reality that Americans are quitting their jobs at record rates, something needs to change in the way that organizations engage with and nurture talent. And let’s not forget the relentless progress of the fourth industrial revolution, in which automation and artificial intelligence are anticipated to displace 85 million jobs by 2025 while simultaneously creating 97 million new roles that will require new skill sets.

For these reasons, we must prioritize reskilling both for low-wage workers who are at risk of losing their jobs to automation and want to acquire new competencies to increase their earning potential, as well as highly specialized talent who require new skills to keep up with technology, remain relevant in their fields, and continue to advance their careers.

So, how can organizations take both a wide, democratized approach to reskilling while also addressing the unique needs of individual workers? First, you can move beyond the outdated notion of hiring for a role and instead focus on hiring workers who possess the skills for the work that needs to get done. Additionally, organizations should invest in developing the skills they need internally by reskilling or upskilling existing employees. The good news is organizations are increasingly aware that providing training opportunities to their current workers is an ideal way to boost institutional knowledge and improve worker satisfaction and retention through internal mobility. In fact, according to Randstad RiseSmart’s 2021 Guide to Severance & Workforce Transition, 88 percent of organizations encourage employees to apply to new roles internally.

Second, by utilizing technology, employers can use predictive AI to create meaningful insights from both market and internal employee data to develop a long-term road map of skills demand and availability — and where there are gaps — within your workforce and the labor market overall. This includes the ability to determine what skills will become obsolete in the near future and what skills can be redeployed to create a more agile talent pool. Encouragingly, according to Randstad Sourceright’s recent Talent Trends survey data, employers are increasingly incorporating these tools into their talent management strategies, with 42 percent of human capital leaders surveyed saying that they are increasing their investments in talent analytics.

 Those same insights can also be used to empower workers to take more ownership of their own career paths. For instance, platforms like Randstad RiseSmart’s BrightFit use AI algorithms to assess an individual’s existing skills and make recommendations on what new competencies they need to acquire for in-demand roles now — and for desired roles in the future.  Artificial intelligence can also suggest a customized list of classes and reskilling opportunities workers should consider to help them take their skills to the next level and ultimately future-proof their careers. Such technologies afford organizations the ability to develop more engaged and sustainable workforces.

The current talent shortage is unquestionably one of the biggest hurdles to America’s post-pandemic economic recovery and a potential long-term roadblock to economic growth. While broad workforce reskilling is a critical component for both workers and businesses to adapt to an increasingly digital economy, determining what skills are needed can prove to be difficult given the constantly shifting goalposts that are part and parcel of rapid technological innovation. However, technology can and should also be used as an indispensable and predictive tool to guide talent strategy and help employers and workers alike determine which constantly evolving skill sets they need to drive personal, business, and economic growth.

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