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Reskilling: a strategic priority in the face of task automation

The changes brought about by the Covid-19 crisis within companies are only just beginning. Digital transformation and task automation are driving companies to invest in training, specifically reskilling. What exactly is it? What are the opportunities and challenges of this approach? Learn more about the skills management tool that is becoming a strategic priority for companies.



The emergence of new professions in the face of task automation


Since the health crisis and of the increase of remote working, companies are called to take the step of digital transformation to adapt to the radical changes that are redrawing the economic landscape. In terms of jobs, new professions are emerging, while others are being transformed.


According to a report by the consulting firm McKinsey on the future of work in Europe, 60% of jobs are expected to see 30-40% of their daily tasks automated by 2030. This would mean the need to acquire new skills, or even change career paths, for around 800 million employees.


In this context of massive automation of tasks, the major challenge for companies is to maintain the employability of their teams, notably through training. However, to remain competitive and stay profitable over the long run, companies cannot be satisfied with simply upgrading the skills of their employees. They must first and foremost provide them with new ones to train them for new jobs. To do this, reskilling has become an essential practice for any organization concerned with the management of its human capital for tomorrow.

« 82% of executives at companies with more than $100 million in annual revenues believe retraining and reskilling must be at least half the answer to addressing their skills gap. »

Reskilling, a key practice in the face of the skills shortage


With the fourth industrial revolution in full swing, many companies cannot find candidates for their new needs. Faced with this skills shortage, the main answer is not in continuous training, but rather in the requalification of the talents present in the organizations, through a reskilling approach. In fact, according to McKinsey, 82% of CEOs from companies with revenues over $100 million per year believe that retraining and reskilling their teams should be half the answer to the shortage of key skills in certain sectors.


What is reskilling?


Reskilling is defined as an advanced training process that allows employees to renew their skills. It is a requalification or retraining process, in which the employee is trained to do a new job. This concept is to be distinguished from upskilling, which is an increase in skills while continuing to work in the same job.


Team reskilling meets two main opportunities for companies. On the one hand, it allows them to keep their human capital, while optimizing competitiveness. On the other hand, this type of training, if it is well oriented, is adapted to a long-term growth strategy.


Indeed, for effective reskilling, companies should focus on the development of their employees’ soft skills, in particular their ability to learn, their cooperation, their curiosity and their agility. In other words, a reskilling process does not consist in massively requalifying employees as experts in artificial intelligence, or in training them in technical skills that meet immediate needs, at the risk of seeing the process rapidly become obsolete and ineffective.


Instead, the urgent need for companies is to develop the behavioral potential of their employees, especially their ability and willingness to learn constantly. This approach will allow them to have flexible and agile teams, capable of reinventing themselves at any time and to face – in particular – the obsolescence of certain skills linked to the automation of tasks.


The role of data for effective reskilling


The assessment of employees’ soft skills should not be based solely on intuition, which is often unconsciously biased by various factors. For a successful reskilling process, it is preferable to adopt a data-driven approach in order to assess these skills objectively and to drive strategic decisions on the basis of concrete data.


Skills repositories and maps are a great help in supporting a reskilling approach. They help to ensure that teams have the relevant “soft skills” to cope with change, but also to identify employees who can benefit from this reskilling process as a priority, given the impact of automation on their job.


By thinking about training over the long term and developing the soft skills of employees, the reskilling approach sheds new light on the management of skills and human capital for the future: moving from an economy of hyper productivity to an economy of hyper resilience.


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Illustration credits: https://www.istockphoto.com/fr/portfolio/grivina