Future-Proof Your Workforce: Upskilling & Reskilling for AI & Automation in 2024

Eric Bierig
Eric Bierig
Jan 16 2024
7 min read
Future-Proof Your Workforce: Upskilling & Reskilling for AI & Automation in 2024

The landscape of the future of work has undergone a significant and lasting transformation. As we enter 2024, it’s clear that we are witnessing the progression of trends that have been reshaping our work environments for years. The question facing every organization is: Are we adequately prepared?

The key to navigating this evolving landscape lies in the implementation of strategic learning and development programs. By focusing on upskilling and reskilling your workforce, you are taking an essential step toward ensuring readiness and adaptability in this new era of work.

Connecting Artificial Intelligence with Upskilling and Reskilling

We already know that half of the tasks in certain industries will be performed by machines in the next four years. But this will be offset somewhat by the jobs created because of AI. For example, a survey by Upwork shows that 64% of executives plan to hire more people due to generative AI applications alone.

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 extensive L&D programs that will transform the skill sets of employees for upcoming changes. 

Many companies have already initiated upskilling and reskilling programs. As we’ll show below, these will not only help them cope with the advent of powerful technologies but also lead to important organizational benefits.

AI and Automation: What It All Means for Skills

Whether a company embraces AI or falls by the wayside will be determined by how it adapts to new skill requirements, ensuring employees are ready for 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 need to be adapted over time due to the rapid changes in technology in practically every industry. As AI-related tools become more commonplace, even employees who previously had few related skills will become involved. 

One example of this is people analytics, an area that has the potential to revolutionize many HR functions. But, in the near future, HR teams should plan for considerable changes within the organization, all with the goal of integrating AI solutions. Accommodating artificial intelligence will include moves like:

▪      Examining practical and relevant applications of AI within individual departments, along with the establishment of KPIs

▪      Anticipating changes in roles and hiring requirements

▪      Planning for AI-centered upskilling, both for employees in general and for HR teams that will be using such technologies for their own tasks

Many companies are already on this path, with 81% of HR leaders either evaluating or using AI to make their operations more efficient. 

One example of this is people analytics, an area that has the potential to revolutionize various HR functions.

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 training.  

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. 

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:

Let’s Not Forget About Engagement

2023 was yet another year of poor engagement rates. Proving this, Gallup reports that almost 60% of employees across the globe have “quietly quit”.  

As upskilling and reskilling become even more important in the workplace, the role of L&D teams in closing skill gaps has never been more vital. For proactive organizations, this means an added emphasis on the activities that deal with both engagement and upskilling issues. In 2024, expect more frequent and in-depth skill gap analyses and frequent career path revisions as both organizations and employees become aware of new areas where skills need to be enhanced. 

Real-World Upskilling and Reskilling

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 Reskilling

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 an extensive set of upskilling and reskilling initiatives. AT&T spent $135 million on employee L&D in 2022 alone.  

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. 

PwC’s Reskilling: 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 $1.2 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. 

In 2024, Talent Development Platforms Are Your Best Bet

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 framework for upskilling can be implemented today, creating a culture of learning that will serve organizations well as the speed of advancement grows even more.

To this end, skill-based talent development platforms allow companies of any size to create and provide L&D programs for continuous employee growth. In addition, talent development platforms deliver rapid sprint-based sessions to optimize the time that learners spend away from their tasks.

With the most extensive skills taxonomy in the industry, Growthspace connects personalized skill development with top experts– that’s why it is the technology that many future-oriented companies are already using to reinforce their upskilling strategy today. 

Eric Bierig
Eric Bierig
Eric Bierig is an organizational development strategist at Growthspace. With an MSc in Industrial Organizational Psychology and experience in Talent and Organizational Development roles in various organizations, Eric leverages his subject matter expertise to share knowledge and best practices, build guides and materials, develop & execute new and impactful programs and products, and help enable both Growthspace and their customers in achieving their strategic initiatives. Eric is a husband, a father, an amateur musician, an avid hockey fan (Lets Go Rangers!) and a functional cereal addict

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