Digital technologies are disrupting the business landscape. As technology opened the door to new ways of doing business, innovative operations and market strategies contributed to the blurring of industry boundaries and shifting of value chains. These dramatic transformations have had a profound effect on the types of workforce skills required by various industries.
IBM Institute for Business Value in collaboration with Oxford Economics surveying more than 5,600 global executives found that massive changes occurred across industries worldwide, along with technology’s influence on consumers. Many business leaders believe business structures and processes need to change, with 74 percent of leaders feel that traditional business models are not sustainable in the current market environment.
While technology capabilities remain at a premium, other types of skills are also becoming more valuable. IBM revealed that 60 percent of executives struggle to keep workforce skills current and relevant in the face of rapid technological advancement. Meanwhile, more than half (55 percent) of leaders believe inadequate investment from private industry is the most fundamental challenge in addressing skill development issues.
As businesses face an increased imperative to transform and adapt to changing economic forces, it is imperative for businesses to not only retain but also develop the company together with its team by investing heavily on employee development. IBM noted that core skills such as communication, flexibility, and agility are in high demand and will be needed for future success.
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Thanks to the advancement of neuroscience and technology, the development of experiential learning techniques have progressed significantly in recent years. These techniques are about learning through hands-on application, rather than absorbing knowledge by listening or reading.
Experiential learning becomes imperative because it is immersive and hands-on. Learners are active participants, not passive recipients of knowledge. Progressive schools use project-based and team-based learning to engage children. In some countries, apprenticeship schemes offer deep experiential learning to large sections of young workers. In corporate settings, experiential techniques range from design thinking in the boardroom to simulation training tools for more technical roles.
Most of us recognize the value of a broad variety of skills across the workforce. But there needs to be a greater emphasis on broadening the variety of skills within each worker. The most useful and relevant blend of skills for each person will continuingly shift and become more complex.
For example, Accenture analysis shows that highly analytical Science & Engineering roles increasingly require creativity and socio-emotional intelligence. Research scientists, who used to spend most of their time in their labs, communicating via technical papers, are now regularly called upon to interact, present and share their insights with nontechnical audiences.
At the same time, what have traditionally been considered “creative” roles – in marketing, for example – require more analytical skills such as interpreting social media data and examining web performance trends. It is important, therefore, to cultivate these evolving combinations of skills within each individual.
Education and corporate lifelong learning systems must be accessible to all in order to truly close the skills gap. Workers who are vulnerable to disruption from technological change must be identified for targeted interventions. Therefore, lifelong learning programs must be flexible enough to accommodate busy adults (employees) with many responsibilities at work and beyond.
When more of your employees are encouraged to develop a growth mindset, one that strives for resilience and learns from failure, more workers of the future will be able to adapt to change and seek out better opportunities.