3 ways upskilling can stimulate the post-COVID economy

At the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda 2021 conference late last month, global leaders came together to discuss how to restore trust in a post-COVID-19 world.

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One of the week’s highlights came from PwC, which released its Upskilling for Shared Prosperity report. The report found that upskilling global workforces will be critical for a post-COVID economic recovery.

“The report notes that unemployment is expected to rise as economies continue to experience the effects of the pandemic,” Bob Moritz, global chairman of PwC, said in the report. “Therefore, upskilling the global workforce is key to stimulating the economic recovery from COVID-19.”

According to the report, the three broader advantages of upskilling are increases in productivity and job creation–especially of high-quality, fairly paid jobs–which in turn helps reduce wage inequalities, especially those created by skill-based technological change.

The report also notes that business sectors that have suffered from low-wage growth and output for decades could reap significant benefits from upskilling. For example, health and social care could add $380 billion in additional GDP through upskilling by 2030.

Increasing upskilling won’t be easy, PwC notes in the report, which was developed in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. Challenges include the disconnect between current education programs and the skills that employers need now and in the future. Businesses and policymakers, however, can take steps that the report spells out to create more inclusive and sustainable economies.

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Leaders, in particular, will require some upskilling focus, says Forrester principal analyst Katy Tynan, whose work centers on preparing leaders for the future.

She notes that even in normal times, too many leaders struggle to inspire and engage their teams and organizations. Tynan will discuss the expected demand for upskilled workforces in a keynote address, Not All Leaders Are in the C-Suite, at the Spring HR Technology Conference & Expo, which will be held March 16-19. With the added stress of a global pandemic–which has transformed how, when and where we work–employers have seen some leaders rise to the challenge, Tynan says, but others have not.

Register here for Spring HR Tech.

Typically, the development focus is on senior leaders: CEOs, presidents, CHROs, CIOs. But, when the “gritty work of change” gets done in organizations, it often happens through the effort of leaders who don’t reside in the C-suite: frontline managers, directors and team leaders. Yet, in many cases, employers have underinvested in upskilling these key resources–leaving significant gaps in their ability to respond and rise up to meet the type of challenges that emerged this past year, Tynan recently told HRE.

“There’s another transition coming,” she said about the need to constantly revisit the skills leaders are equipped with, especially those outside of the C-suite. “It’s not enough to say, ‘OK, now we know how to do [leadership development for managers].’ Because next year there will be something very different and managers are going to have to pivot again and learn new skills. You have to keep investing.”
At Spring HR Tech, which is free to attendees, Tynan will offer up data about the value of developing these frontline leaders and explore ways to strengthen this critical community to ultimately drive organizational resilience and adaptiveness–essentially, the highest level of upskilling.

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Tom Starner
Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at [email protected].