Survey: Upskilling is needed, but employers continue to lag

Most organizations are still struggling to make upskilling a reality.
By: | February 3, 2020 • 3 min read

With artificial intelligence and related tech making serious inroads in today’s workplace, it may come as little surprise that upskilling and reskilling will be key to evolving employee competencies that complement technological innovation, according a new survey.

Unfortunately, the same survey, the 2020 Talent Trends Report released by Randstad Sourceright, found that, while 91% of human capital leaders believe it’s their company’s responsibility to provide reskilling to meet business needs, only 22% are currently doing so to address talent scarcity. Nearly one-third of respondents who said they intend to offer reskilling aren’t sure how to get it done.

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The good news is most employers (66%) plan to provide training and reskilling in the area of artificial intelligence, while 60% plan to develop workers’ soft skills. The findings mirrored those in the company’s 2019 research on employees, wherein their most desired skills included both technical capabilities (43%) and soft skills, such as communication (41%).

The survey, which included responses from more than 800 C-suite and HR leaders, also found that human capital professionals see talent fluidity—defined as the ability of workers to mold their skills to adapt to automation, digitalization and other changing needs of their organization—as critical to the future of work.

“Digitalization has changed the way we work and has redefined the skills that are most important for employees to possess,” says Rebecca Henderson, CEO of Randstad global businesses and executive board member. “Yet, while employers have acknowledged that it is crucial for their businesses to reskill staff to keep up with changing technology and bolster the soft skills that only humans can possess, it is troubling that so few companies are currently offering this necessary training.”

Also see: 5 reasons to attend HRE’s Health & Benefits Leadership Conference

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In addition to AI and soft skills, companies also plan to train existing employees in analytics skills (59%), technical capabilities (57%) and cloud computing (54%). Thirty-eight percent of respondents view reskilling as an important measure for redeploying talent who are at risk of losing their jobs due to automation.

Other key findings from the 2020 Talent Trends Report include:

  • Internal mobility: About 47% of companies will be increasing investments in their internal-mobility programs in 2020, up from 39% in 2016. In Randstad Sourceright’s 2019 survey of talent, 31% of working professionals said their ideal employer should offer career progression opportunities.
  • Automated talent acquisition: Seventy-one percent of C-suite and human capital leaders say that technology has made the recruitment process simpler and more efficient for them, and 72% believe that technology is helping them make smarter hiring decisions. Eighty-one percent also say talent analytics play a critical role in sourcing, attracting, engaging and retaining talent.
  • Digital insights: Nearly half (47%) of employers are investing in predictive analytics for talent, and a majority (54%) are investing in digital specialists to support HR. In Randstad Sourceright’s 2019 research, a majority (60%) of working professionals also said they would have more job opportunities if they possessed broader digital and tech-focused skill sets.
  • Workplace culture: While 60% of employers said digital transformation was moving too quickly in 2019, that number fell to 45% this year, signaling that businesses are adapting their cultures to drive their digital shift. This is supported by the fact that 77% of talent leaders reported acquiring more digital skill sets to expand their reach and open up business opportunities.
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 hreletters@lrp.com.