According to the World Economic Forum, this statistic is a critical economic imperative.
Does this shock or scare you? Perhaps you’re completely unflappable? Whatever your reaction, this situation will undoubtedly impact your organisation and the way you tackle skills development.
In the U.K. alone, we stand to miss out on $185 billion in potential GDP growth if we fail to meet this growing skills demand. If we look at our rapidly digitalising world, the immediate assumption might be that these in-demand skills will lie in tech, with data analytical skills and coding taking priority. In fact, the skills in demand will be those that can’t be automated so easily; creativity, critical thinking and decision-making. These are the very human skills that appear (at least for now) irreplaceable. But the problem is, reskilling in these particular areas is notoriously difficult and are often not currently taught in today’s traditional learning systems.
What’s more, innovation demands adaptability. If experience has taught us anything, it’s that the world has changed and will continue to change at an ever-increasing rate. We’ll need employees that are capable, not just competent. Employees that are agile in taking and applying ideas to new contexts whilst adapting to the demands of the future will be prized.
So how can this challenge of ensuring our workforce is fit and ready to face what the employment landscape will look like moving forward, be tackled. The answer does not lie in highly specialised roles but instead in employees that hold a broad range of skills and can work together in an agile manner to complete tasks. In order to cope, “we need a complete educational overhaul, moving away from teaching knowledge and a fixed set of skills and toward ever-evolving clusters of skills that people of all ages must master”.
What are the roadblocks?
So, we’ve laid down the gauntlet; an adaptable, agile, multi-skilled workforce. What stands in the way of achieving this? A recent survey of the top 5 challenges facing learning leaders sheds some light:
1. Building a learning culture
2. Learning in the flow of work
3. Digital transformation
4. Learner engagement and ownership
5. Keeping informed of best practices
Over half of these challenges centre around the difficulty of making learning an integral and self-motivated activity at work. Put simply, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Carrots, sticks, and the teaching tools of the past are not going to be the methods that see success in team transformations for the future. Allegories aside, we need to take learner motivation and engagement seriously if we want to enact true behavioural change. Think of the difference in efficacy between when we learn something because we are told to, and because we want to.
Is this an impossible task? It sounds like a headache inducing contradiction in terms; getting employees to learn what we want them to learn but because they want to learn it, not because we told them to. Before you reach for the paracetamol, bear with us. It is possible to put learners at the centre of the learning process. By giving them ownership over their training and making it a self-determined part of their work-life you can ensure you meet your business needs now and in the future. Self-determined learning holds the key.