Mastering The Reskilling Revolution
By Michael P. Morris, CEO, Topcoder and global head of crowdsourcing, Wipro.
Between the speed of changing technology and the workplace disruption brought on by COVID-19, a topic on the minds of public/private sector organizations, is employee reskilling.
Traditional reskilling includes investing in retraining and skills development programs for current full-time employees. The philosophy is that many of the new skills they need to stay competitive and productive aren’t currently in-house.
You have good people—yet their skill sets are becoming obsolete, outsourced or overtaken by advances in AI. In fact, the World Economic Forum released a January 2019 study (Towards a Reskilling Revolution) that estimated if the US invested roughly $34 billion in reskilling approximately 1.4 million workers it could result in the up-leveling of those individuals to higher paid roles in areas of predicted need. This traditional vision of reskilling does make sense, but it’s still a linear move, rather than an exponential one.
The Value of Modern Reskilling
Work, technology and global workforce dynamics are changing: modern reskilling accounts for those changes as the evolved approach includes opportunities for retraining and continuous learning, while on the job and working from home. It includes teaching current employees how to wield other people’s skills to get work done using current methodologies such as crowdsourcing, as well as teaches companies how to better match tasks to available resources.
Modern reskilling is a more effective use of training investments for both the individual as well as organizations. Educators and businesses are investing in this strategy to drive the future of work because the technical expertise needed to just “keep up” can be hard to find. Modern reskilling transforms workforces from static collections of skill sets to flexible groups of people empowered to find innovative ways to get work done as quickly and effectively as possible.
People Fuel the Reskilling Revolution
The pandemic has further demonstrated how the passion (or “gig”) economy is the future of work. Instead of a top-down hierarchy that dictates employee tasks, in the gig economy, talented individuals choose the projects they work on and opt-in to the work that matters to them. Gig workers enjoy freedom, flexibility and community, and organizations have intelligently adopted a gig-approach for full and part time employees now working remotely.
Organizations in the US and abroad are applying a gig mindset and open talent staffing model to bring mobile, remote workforces successfully into the 21st century.
Modern Reskilling In Action
Reskilling and upskilling give workers the opportunity to learn and practice tech skills that are in high demand. These include AI, computer vision, machine learning and technology languages such as Python, React, Unity and Salesforce Lightning. In addition, it empowers companies with the ability to properly assess the strengths of its workforce and pair it with initiatives best suited for its skill sets.
Hospitality industry leader Hilton is an excellent example of modern reskilling and people centered innovation. At the pandemic’s start, Hilton launched reskilling initiatives for furloughed workers by aggregating a group of online resources—websites and platforms—where they can learn, practice and improve new skills, and potentially earn income.
Telecommunications giant Swisscom is another company that demonstrates how adding reskilling to its workforce retention and enterprise resiliency strategies proved beneficial. Swisscom utilizes a reverse mentorship model to reskill at the senior manager level and above. This novel approach brings younger team members in to retrain more senior members.
In addition, digital marketing software expert Adobe incorporates reskilling into its workforce advancement strategies. It partnered with Topcoder on a series of software development challenges to deliver Adobe-based tools to the businesses and sectors most impacted by the COVID crisis. The series launched with an educational software development challenge that introduced the Topcoder community to Adobe’s PDF SDKs. Subsequent phases looked at ways Adobe Document Cloud could be used in remote learning environments.
With the acceleration of remote work and the tangible productivity gains to be made from modern reskilling and upskilling approaches, now is the time to transform workplace staffing, training and development models. When companies incorporate gig labor platforms, people learn when and how to leverage their own skills for a job, as well as when and how to seek out skills and resources on-demand to address specialized projects.