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Learning to catch up in a world that won’t wait!

4 transformational trends are impacting the workforce like never before. The key to professional survival and growth for the workforce will depend on this one crucial skill.

But first, a little about me. I have been lucky to be part of Sify (pronounced: /siː fiː/) – one of the earliest eLearning companies – anywhere. In fact, we were so early, that I had a hard time explaining what “eLearning” was all about – I usually used to mutter something about, “Oh, it is something like a webpage!”

Anyway, Sify was born over 2 decades ago when Internet & Education were coming together in holy matrimony (sort of). Always ahead of time, sometimes, too far ahead – we often found ourselves alone. But, no more – now, the world is finally catching on.

The diversity of customers has enabled us to view learning/training trends from a unique vantage point that has often been validated by industry reports and surveys.

The world we live and work in is buffeted by 4 Broad Trends.

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Trend 1 –  Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained (but not necessarily as many & not the same)

According to Dept. of Labor reports, at the height of the pandemic 24M jobs were lost. As the economy has opened up, the jobs have come back, but not all.

8M fewer people are working today.

And, for those working, their job roles and duties and even industries have changed – more digital, more remote, more automated, more technical.

Sources:

1.    https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/OPA/newsreleases/ui-claims/20210685.pdf

2.    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2021/04/22/showing-signs-of-a-strengthening-job-market-last-weeks-unemployment-claims-fell-to-a-pandemic-low-point/?sh=9b06dc9312dc

Trend 2 – Have orders, but where are the workers?

Labor market data, Job postings and anecdotal evidence from employer interviews suggest a persistent shortage of workers in industries such as hospitality, restaurants, healthcare, energy, & manufacturing.

Particularly in manufacturing, a Deloitte & Manufacturing Institute report highlights that by year 2030, the US will be short of 2.1M jobs, resulting in lost GDP of $1T. In fact, the problem is so acute even now that employers have started to lower experience and skills requirements to attract new workers.

Sources:

1.    https://www.themanufacturinginstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/MI-DI-The-jobs-are-here-where-are-the-people.pdf

2.    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/these-are-the-industries-with-the-biggest-labor-shortages/

Trend 3 – Career Change Tsunami Heading Our way

According to a Pew Research Center survey, 66% of unemployed have considered changing careers (unlike in the past, where they would have waited and watched for their jobs to come back).

Almost 50% of the unemployed are pessimistic about their chances of making successful career change.

The people that are most impacted are Women, low-wage workers, and Disadvantaged groups.

Sources:

1.    https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/02/10/unemployed-americans-are-feeling-the-emotional-strain-of-job-loss-most-have-considered-changing-occupations/

Trend 4 – Transition, transition, transition!

According to the report by Mckinsey Global Institute, by year 2030, about 25% of US jobs will be at risk of displacement due to full or partial automation.

The same report says that almost 19% replacement jobs will be gained by year 2030. However, 10-34% of the workforce may need to transition into new and emerging growth sectors in eCommerce, healthcare, manufacturing, professional services, etc.

Sources:

  1. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/gender-equality/the-future-of-women-at-work-transitions-in-the-age-of-automation#

These 4 Broad Trends are not siloed – they are interconnected and interlinked.

Without getting into the nuances and the “whys” and “whats”, at the “heart” of these 4 Broad Trends, is the one common denominator staring at us – “The need to quickly develop New Knowledge, Skills and Abilities” in the workforce.

Not just to do their jobs, but to build confidence, feel empowered, & develop critical life skills for growth. And most importantly, to include everyone in this new chapter for Human Development and Growth.

How do we know this?

Well, we work with some of the best known and cutting-edge organizations that are at the forefront of their respective industries and areas of expertise – Healthcare & Pharma, Oil & Gas & Energy, Manufacturing & Robotics, Technology, Education, & Aid Agencies and Non-profit organizations.

These organizations are investing real Dollars, in real projects and technologies, that help in Skills Building for their workforce.

They have a very clear view of what is important for them – what we have started to call the “5 Key Imperatives in Workforce Skill Development”.

Skill development in the workforce MUST be:

●     Accelerated – “Time to Perform” – A customer that earlier used to give their workers 8-9 months to get ready for their new job role, now gives them 12 weeks – a reduction of over 50%. “Time” is a luxury that few employers can afford.

●     Agile – “Quick Pivots” – Technologies, business models, processes, products, customer needs, are changing with dizzying speeds. Employers need their workers to “pivot” and learn new things, almost on a dime. And, on their own. Example – A medical device technician is slowly becoming an IT technician, because the device software is changing more rapidly than its hardware.

●     Continuous – “What else?” – In today’s world of constant change and competition, the workforce cannot rest on their laurels or on what they know. They must constantly look at the horizon to develop new knowledge, skills, and abilities even if that makes them uncomfortable, in fact, especially if that makes them uncomfortable! Why? Because that will be their life-long insurance for life-long relevance. Example – To make this happen, an organization uses AI-powered content curation platform that personalizes the learning “pathway” for every employee and delivers fresh and relevant content, news, and information every day.

●     Connected – “collaborate” – Nothing is more important in today’s world of work than the workforce’s ability to communicate, collaborate, & solve problems collectively. Example – A communication app allows workers to “crowdsource” solutions in real time to solve a real-world problem, because a solution cannot be found in the user manual.

●     Impactful – “Making a difference” – Lastly, but perhaps, most importantly, the focus on the impact made not just on an organization’s topline and bottom line, but the impact on an individual worker, their wellbeing, sense of purpose, and the benefit to society. Example – An oil and gas company that has transformed itself as a world leader in Carbon Capture & Storage Technologies, is focusing not just on the business impact, but also impact on climate, environment, and the quality of jobs.

So, in summary, the 4 Broad Work Trends are leading to the 5 Key Skill Imperatives that are going to impact all of us in one way or another.

The world of Workforce Development cannot remain immune to these changes. You cannot develop a modern workforce for a modern industry without taking these 4 work trends and 5 Key Skill Imperatives into consideration.

Let’s shift gears and look at how these 5 imperatives translate into “real world” workforce skill development solutions that organizations are already investing in – NOT in the distant future BUT today. More of that in my next article, next week.

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    Indresh Chauhan
    Indresh Chauhan,AVP at Sify eLearning

    In helping Learning Development leaders gain clarity on how to make the most efficient use of training dollars to improve performance, morale, and business results Indresh brings industry best practices and design-thinking in eLearning and Instructor Led Training (ILT). His expertise is most useful to Fortune 1000 companies that have multiple product lines in highly competitive markets. With thousands of employees and customers across geographies - their success or failure depends upon the "human" performance.

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