Upskilling: Helping workers survive workforce disruption

IMAGE CREDIT:
Image credit
iStock

Upskilling: Helping workers survive workforce disruption

Thrive from future trends

Subscribe today to equip your team with the leading trend and foresight platform used by multidisciplinary, future-focused teams working across departments in Strategy, Innovation, Product Development, Investor Research, and Consumer Insights. Convert industry trends into practical insights for your business.

Starting at $15/month

Upskilling: Helping workers survive workforce disruption

Subheading text
The COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in automation have highlighted the necessity of continuously upskilling employees.
    • Author:
    • Author name
      Quantumrun Foresight
    • October 6, 2022

    Post text

    Millions working in the hospitality, retail, and fitness sectors lost their jobs within a few weeks of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. Many individuals began reskilling during this period, looking for methods to upskill, foster new talents, or retrain in a different area as the pandemic persisted. This trend has led to debates on how companies should take responsibility for future-proofing their workforce.

    Upskilling context

    According to US Labor Department data, the 2022 unemployment rate has dropped to a 50-year low at 3.5 percent. There are more jobs than workers, and HR departments struggle to fill positions. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic, people’s concept of employment has changed. Some people want jobs that only pay the bills; others wish to have meaningful work with room to grow and learn, jobs that give back to the community instead of making corporations wealthy. These are perceptions that HR departments must consider, and one way to attract younger workers is a culture of constant upskilling. 

    Investing in human capital through training allows workers to tackle a new activity or project while remaining employed successfully. It requires time and resources to help the employee to gain new skills and knowledge. Many organizations upskill their workforce to be more productive or get promoted into new roles. Upskilling is necessary to assist firms in developing organically and enhancing employee happiness. However, some employees think companies are not investing enough in their growth and development, leaving them to upskill or reskill themselves. The popularity of online learning systems such as Coursera, Udemy, and Skillshare shows the high interest in do-it-yourself training programs, including learning how to code or design. For many workers, upskilling is the only way that they can ensure automation won’t displace them.

    Disruptive impact

    While many people are engaging in self-learning, some companies foot the bill when it comes to reskilling and upskilling. In 2019, consultancy firm PwC pledged a $3 billion USD commitment to upskilling its 275,000 employees. The company said that while it can’t guarantee that employees will have the specific role they want, they will find employment in the firm no matter what. Similarly, Amazon announced it would retrain one-third of its US workforce, costing the company $700 million USD. The retailer plans to transition employees from non-technical jobs (e.g., warehouse associates) to information technology (IT) roles. Another company upskilling its workforce is research firm Accenture, which pledged $1 billion USD annually. The company plans to target employees at risk of displacement due to automation.

    Meanwhile, some enterprises are launching programs to train the wider community. In 2020, telecoms company Verizon announced its $44 million USD upskilling program. The company focuses on assisting Americans affected by the pandemic to find in-demand employment, providing priority admission to people who are Black or Latin, unemployed, or without a four-year degree. The program trains students for jobs such as junior cloud practitioner, junior web developer, IT help desk technician, and digital marketing analyst. Meanwhile, Bank of America pledged $1 billion USD to help end racial discrimination, including a program to upskill thousands of Americans. The program will partner with high schools and community colleges.

    Implications of upskilling

    Wider implications of upskilling may include: 

    • The increasing deployment of learning management systems to streamline and manage training programs and ensure they follow the company’s objectives and policies.
    • The continued development of online learning platforms catering to the demands of individuals interested in transitioning to alternative industries or freelance work.
    • More employees volunteering to be assigned to different departments to learn about other systems and skills.
    • Governments establishing publicly funded upskilling programs, particularly for blue-collar or low-wage workers.
    • Businesses providing learning programs to community members and students.

    Questions to comment on

    • How might upskilling or reskilling opportunities be shared across the workforce equitably?
    • How else can companies help their employees remain relevant in their roles?

    Community forecast feedback

    View the community's ratings after you leave your own below.

    Average year

    All readers

    Average year

    Qr readers

    --

    Average vote

    All readers

    Average vote

    Qr readers

    --

    Average vote

    All readers

    Average vote

    Qr readers

    --

    Average vote

    All readers

    Average vote

    Quantumrun readers

    --
    --
    --

    Average vote

    Company readers

    Insight references

    The following popular and institutional links were referenced for this insight: