As work becomes increasingly digital and automated, this new environment obviously requires updated skills—yet both employers and employees alike detect a sizable skills deficit, according to new research from business and tech consultancy West Monroe Partners.
The firm’s new report, The Upskilling Crisis: Effectively Enabling and Retraining Employees for the Future, reveals more than half (56 percent) of organizations believe they have a moderate to severe skills gap today, and 60 percent of employees believe that, to some extent, their current skill set will become outdated in the next three to five years.
“The urgency for upskilling comes at a time when emerging skill sets are scarce and the talent market is tight—making it prudent to keep people even if they don’t have the right skills right now,” said Michael Hughes, managing director and leader of West Monroe’s Operations Excellence practice, in a news release. “Indeed, it’s often cheaper to retrain current employees than find and hire new ones, as the consequences of turnover can be felt at the bottom line.”
In the past year, 70 percent of companies have introduced at least one new technology designed to increase employee capacity
Employers and employees agree these employee-enablement tools create value. Among employers, 78 percent say enablement technology makes the organization more efficient, and 71 percent say it increases productivity. Sixty-one percent of employees believe technology helps them deliver a higher quality of work output, while 56 percent agree that it allows them to work more efficiently and frees time for additional tasks.
Enabling managers will be key to addressing technology adoption, disruption, and upskilling challenges. Many organizations, however, are missing the mark, as 63 percent have not equipped managers with upskilling resources. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed feel the people responsible for leading the way during change—managers and senior leaders—need upskilling and reskilling, themselves. Furthermore, 43 percent believe managers don’t know how to upskills and reskill employees, and another 39 percent feel they don’t have the time to do so.
“The survey results strongly support the need for significant investment in manager development and enablement if organizations are to realize the impact of digital transformation on the bottom line,” said Hughes. “The results also point to the importance of human-centered design in their approach to upskilling. Before implementing any sort of enablement technology, organizations need to consider the employee journey and how the selected tool(s) will add value – but only 16 percent of those surveyed do so consistently.”
West Monroe partnered with the Human Capital Media Research and Advisory Group, the research arm of Human Capital Media, to conduct a pair of surveys on employer and employee attitudes toward upskilling and employee enablement technologies. More than 430 people at the manager level and above, across various industries, participated in the employer survey; 1,000 people participated in the employee survey, representing a wide range of industries and job levels across the United States.
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