Preparing for the Future of Work through Upskilling and Reskilling

You don’t need psychic abilities to know the future of work has been changed for good, though we can’t know what that means just yet. We already know that half of the tasks in certain industries will be performed by machines in the next four years, but another 97 million jobs will be created because of AI. Around the globe, 120 million people will require specialized training due to the impact of AI.

Advances in AI and automation are proving to the entire industrialized world–from huge corporations to junior employees–that we need to acknowledge and adjust to these new realities. All of this translates into the need for organizations to prepare for extensive L&D programs that will transform their employees for the upcoming changes. 

Many companies have already initiated upskilling and reskilling programs. These will not only enable them to cope with the advent of powerful technologies but also benefit from important advantages.

AI and Automation: What It All Means for Humans

Whether a company embraces AI or falls by the wayside will be determined by how they adapt to new skill requirements, ensuring employees are upskilled to the specific near-future organizational needs. In particular:

AI Programming and Usage Skills

Computer science, math, coding, UI/UX, and domain knowledge are all hard skills used to design and implement AI and automation technologies. Many of these skills will adapt over time due to the rapid changes in technology in practically every industry.

Soft Skills Complementary to Technological Developments

People are still very much needed at every stage of creating and using AI and automation tools. To make the most of these assets, employees at all levels should brush up on their critical thinking, problem-solving, self-management, and cooperative soft skills.  

Getting Skills Up to Speed

Inevitably, with the onset of new technologies, skill gaps arise. This is happening faster than ever before, and the rate of change in essential work skills is unprecedented. To address such gaps, some companies turn first to external hiring; but even new employees can find themselves behind the curve within a few years. That’s why the most practical approach to increasing skill levels relies on L&D programs, namely: reskilling and upskilling. 

What Is Reskilling?

Reskilling is the process of imbuing an employee with new skills, usually so that they can take on a new role. It can also mean that the skills they use in their current position are no longer relevant and need to be updated, especially when it comes to AI, automation, and whatever new technologies will be introduced in the coming years. 

What Is Upskilling?

Upskilling is the process of increasing existing skills to an optimal level. It usually entails closing specific skill gaps to be better equipped to do their job. 

Many organizations are very active in upskilling efforts, as they see first-hand the fruits of their efforts. This is especially true when it comes to soft skills–since almost everyone has some degree of aptitude in soft skills, L&D programs are able to hone those skills relatively easily– as opposed to having to teach a skill from scratch.

Business Benefits of Upskilling

The advantages of upskilling go beyond being prepared to compete (or even dominate). These are some of the gains that can be expected after implementing a successful upskilling program:

Real-World Skilling

Many global technology leaders have anticipated the growing role of AI, and have made significant investments in building the skills of their workers. Here are some notable examples:

AT&T’s Future Ready 

As part of its strategic planning, AT&T performed a comprehensive skill gap analysis. They discovered that approximately 50% of employees lacked the hard skills necessary for the company’s future requirements. 

AT&T decided to avoid extensive and expensive outside recruitment. Instead, they created the billion-dollar “Future Ready” program, which is based on reskilling initiatives. 

The company uses online education platforms that enable employees to access convenient learning opportunities. Workers can personalize courses through a portal for career planning and defining related skill requirements. 

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ New World, New Skills 

PwC has implemented a whopping $3 billion program for upskilling and reskilling, open to all employees. 

Part of the program is available through an app where employees can evaluate their skill level in areas such as AI, augmented reality, and machine learning. Employees can then upskill by designing their own learning plans. Upon completing course components, workers earn certifications and “micro-degrees”.

Another learning asset for the program enables employees to share their ideas through features like social media and gamification. This makes it easier to collaborate and also provides a way for employees to use the skills they have recently acquired. 

Amazon’s Upskilling 2025 

Amazon intends to continue the extensive use of robotics and other advanced technologies. To prepare its workforce with the necessary skills, it has launched an optional upskilling program, in which it will invest over $1 billion.  

Through Upskilling 2025, Amazon workers receive free courses that they can attend while at work. The courses include subjects such as AWS, IT support, software engineering, and machine learning. Certain employees can also receive tuition for external college-based courses. 

GrowthSpace and Continuous Employee Upskilling 

Constant upskilling efforts are necessary to keep pace with the increased usage of AI and automation technologies. One can only guess what skills will be needed five years from now, but the learning framework for upskilling can be implemented today, creating a culture of learning that will well serve organizations as the speed of technological advancement grows even more.

GrowthSpace’s L&D platform allows companies of any size to create and provide L&D programs for continuous upskilling. Our platform specializes in linking personalized learning requirements with top experts in those fields. In addition, GrowthSpace delivers rapid sprint-based sessions to optimize the time that learners spend away from their tasks. GrowthSpace is the technology that many future-oriented companies are already using to reinforce their upskilling strategy today.