Learning & Development

The future-proof way to close your skills gap

Skills gap

Skills. We’ve all got ‘em. We all need ‘em. And the skills we need are constantly changing. Ever-changing technology means that skills development is more important now than ever before, and it needs to be delivered quickly and flexibly to account for this constant change.

In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, 44% of workers’ key skills are expected to change over the next five years. Many of those skills could relate to technologies that don’t even exist yet - so how on earth do we prepare our workforces for so many unknowns?

On top of this, a whopping 88% of L&D professionals in Brandon Hall Group’s HCM Outlook 2024 study say that upskilling and reskilling employees is important or critical to business success, with 54% saying that accelerating employee reskilling is a key part of the future of work. It’s clear, then, that skills are a top priority for L&D teams and the businesses they belong to.

To an extent, what we’re training people to do is less important than how we’re training them to do it. The skills themselves will change, but if we can find a fool proof delivery method, we can rest assured that our people will develop the skills they need long into the future. So what exactly does that method look like?


Look at your overall business goals


What’s your organisation’s overarching vision? What do you want to achieve? Without knowing this, it’s almost impossible to ensure you’re supporting the right skills across your business. Whether your goal is to secure 20% of market share, to break into a new market or to build a reputation as the most innovative business in your sector, the skills you prioritise and develop should support that.

Once you know what you’re ultimately aiming for, you can start building a skills strategy that will help you get there. If you want to make a specific profit, are your salespeople equipped to get there? If you’re looking to innovate, do your product team have the skills to build market-leading products? If not, what skills do they need now, or will they need in the coming months and years?

The right skills for the right people

As a general rule of thumb, soft skills, such as communication, time management and assertiveness, are timeless. But these skills aren’t learned in a one-and-done session - think of them as muscles that need to be strengthened and stretched over time.

‘Hard’ skills, more commonly known as technical skills, may be evergreen (such as design skills or language proficiency), but can also be affected by the tools and technology used for execution. For instance, preferred programming languages change over time, data analysis methodology and tools evolve and systems get updated or replaced, meaning employees are likely to have to constantly learn and relearn technical skills to stay relevant.


Listen to your business leaders


Your business leaders have a useful insight into the skills gaps (either current or predicted) in their teams. As an example, someone managing a team of copywriters may identify that getting to grips with generative AI technology would increase efficiency and output across the team, so they may want to offer training on this topic.

Your managers and team leaders know better than anyone about the skills their teams will need in the coming months and years, so keep an open dialogue with each department to ensure you’re providing exactly what employees need, when they need it.

On top of this, make sure managers are equipped with everything they need to build skills conversations into their employee one-to-ones and check-ins. This could mean keeping track of competencies in a team-wide skills matrix to identify upskilling or cross-training opportunities, or simply hearing from the people doing the work about what would help them keep up in a fast-moving workplace.


Expect the unexpected


Whatever the industry analysts might say, absolutely nobody can predict with 100% certainty which skills will be needed in the future. Right now, the most in-demand skills for 2024 include generative AI, data, sustainability, machine learning and cybersecurity, but that doesn’t take into account the inevitable vast advancements in technology we’ll see in the coming years.

Many of the technical skills your people will need in three, five or ten years likely don’t even exist today, so it pays to create an agile upskilling and reskilling programme that can adapt to whichever skills are needed today, tomorrow and long into the future. A user-friendly, intuitive learner experience will never fall out of favour, and building a supportive, flexible learning culture will create an environment where skills development can flourish and progress at speed.

Generation Alpha (those born between 2010-2025) will also be entering the workforce in the coming years, with rising retirement ages meaning we could potentially see five different generations in the workplace. Reverse mentoring (where younger, less experienced employees share their insights with more experienced employees) has been found to increase millennial retention rates by as much as 96%, so getting a similar programme in place could be a way to help multi-generational workplaces build resilience and promote harmony across the workforce.


How academies can help with skills development

If you're looking to upskill and reskill your workforce (and if not, why not?), it's no good uploading a few elearning courses to your LMS and hoping the right people will find them. Instead, you need to get a lot smarter about the way you deliver your skills training to ensure you maximise the benefits of your efforts.

5app academies work by pulling together the right content for the right people at the right time. Sounds simple, right? But the impact is huge. When your people want to learn a new skill, they don't want to trawl through your platforms to find the right content, or, worse, to head to Google to seek out questionable resources. If you're not giving them a crystal-clear way to access skills development at the point of need, you're missing a trick.

5app academies are hugely powerful when it comes to laser focusing on skills development. In fact, we helped real estate firm Greystar boost skills development by 32% through the introduction of learner-focused academies, as well as a 43% uplift in technical skills - not bad, right? It just goes to show the power of simple solutions - especially in business-critical areas such as skills development.


Why soft skills are a must have

It's a given that technical skills need to constantly be updated. The systems, tools, processes and technologies your people use today aren't the same as the ones they'll be using in a few years, so upskilling and reskilling is essential (unless you're desperate to keep everyone chained to Windows XP and Internet Explorer).

But soft skills are often overlooked in the upskilling and reskilling mix. Great soft skills will always have a place in business - and while strong communication, time management or conflict resolution skills may not look vastly different from one year to the next, that doesn't mean we shouldn't continue to hone those skills over time and consider new perspectives.

Soft skills are also an important part of creating a healthy workplace culture, as well as ensuring you're building an inclusive environment as part of your DEIB initiatives. You should want a workforce with empathy, resilience and strong critical thinking skills, all of which can be developed over time with on-demand access to the right soft skills content.

Ready to close the skills gap?

5app Plug and Play solution contains a whole host of must-have soft skills content for upskilling and reskilling.

Interested? Let’s talk! 



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