You must be really proud of the level of expertise you built up over the years.
Well, post-COVID-19, you have to start acquiring a whole new set of skills, if you are to survive and stay employed.
Perhaps one of the most dramatic impacts of the pandemic has been the unprecedented numbers of furloughed or laid-off employees and high unemployment rates.
Companies who cannot hold on to talent also cannot afford to hire new ones so it is crucial to invest in a workforce adaptable to market changes and this is why the time for employee reskilling and upskilling is now.
What does an important employee survey say?
Salesforce has published its first Global Stakeholder Series: Future of Work, Now research study – a data-driven look at how the COVID-19 pandemic is shaping people’s attitudes about current work environments and their perceptions on the future of work.
Many businesses and employees are experiencing economic hardship, and uncertainty persists around job security.
Employees know they need to adapt, and ultimately expect companies to prioritize support for staff in their reskilling and personal development efforts.
In fact, 65% of employees believe that workforce development must be a high priority for businesses, and 70% say technology should play a major role within it.
50% say they are more interested in online learning/training since COVID-19 with 95% of respondents saying adaptability and 93% saying collaboration will be important skills over the next six months.
Technology has the potential to help employees stay healthy and keep an individual’s well-being top of mind. In the current pandemic, around four in five respondents (79%) believe that workplace safety should be a high priority for businesses.
Upskilling, reskilling are business needs, any time
Some of the industry giants have jumped on the upskilling train long before the pandemic. Amazon, for instance, has invested $700 million into reskilling and upskilling programs, and Mastercard has been running its own retraining program since 2016 to gain a competitive advantage over startups.
In the long run, upskilling and reskilling programs can improve employee engagement and retention, attract new talent, increase collaboration between departments and speed up the adoption of new trends within the company.
Performance enablement is a crucial tool for employee upskilling and reskilling during the Covid-19 pandemic, considering the remote nature of workplace communication and management.
Since it’s backed by AI algorithms, the system analyzes performance data in real-time and learns more about the employees as they progress within the platform. This results in the improvement of knowledge and skills, which directly affects individuals’ personal goals and company KPIs.
Distributed workforce training provides an opportunity for the company to maximize employee potential and allow workers to keep their jobs by expanding their skills to different areas. With just-in-time learning, employees receive information on-demand from their home offices where they can build on their existing skill sets or acquire new capabilities through personalized learning.
Global reskilling efforts
At a recent AWS “re:Invent conference”, Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, spoke with Teresa Carlson, vice president worldwide public sector for AWS, about the need to reskill large segments of the populace and workforce.
Amazon plans to bring cloud computing skills to 29 million people by 2025 around the world for free. The plan is to expand current training programs from Amazon as well as introduce new initiatives to meet this objective.
The initiative will include offering education resources in eight new countries to reach 25 cities around the world, along with digital and virtual learning.
To address the skills gap in today’s workforce, Microsoft has set up a virtual training ecosystem designed to benefit employees specializing in skills needed for future jobs. Initiatives like the Microsoft Cloud Society are part of this framework, which has to date reached over 256,000 members across the Middle East and Africa. Additionally, platforms such as the AI Business School are empowering individuals to remotely upskill in areas around AI, Cloud, Data, and Security.
UAE and Saudi upskilling
According to the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report, 77% of UAE employers are set to rapidly increase digitalization in the year ahead, including plans to accelerate the digitalization of employee upskilling and reskilling (40%).
A recent IDC study found that making learning integral to every employee’s role in an organization sees a 746% in the organization’s ROI over a 3 years period.
In the year ahead, employers will need to introduce measures to develop soft skills and support employee well-being as a result of the effects of COVID-19 on society and the economy.
Among the UAE companies that are the most mature in terms of AI adoption, the majority of their senior leaders (93%) say they are actively building the skills of their workers or have plans to do so, according to recent research.
78% of employees at these businesses say they have already benefitted from reskilling programs.
The research shows that companies prioritizing AI want to ensure that it complements the talents of their people.
These businesses are cultivating employee skills across every category – ranging from advanced data analysis and critical thinking to communications and creativity.
In the UAE, almost all workers (97%) are keen to take part in AI reskilling initiatives.
Meanwhile, the CEO of Saudi Telecom Group, Nasser Sulaiman Al-Nasser, believes that although AI is expected to displace 73 million jobs globally by 2022, investments in reskilling employees could create 130 million jobs.
“Saudi is prioritizing and investing in education,” Nasser said at a recent IT summit, explaining that this is an important part of reskilling individuals in preparation for the use of AI in industries.