Workforce Transformation is Core to a Coherent Technology Talent Strategy
Build Back Better with A Revature Workforce Transformation Solution
It doesn’t take an economics PhD to realize that we are living in a historic moment resulting in seismic change. New technologies like blockchain, AI, and cloud computing are on the rise. Old jobs are being automated away even as new ones are created. Brick-and-mortar businesses are moving online. Digital transformation is no longer disruptive; it is the new normal. These trends long predate the pandemic; but the advent of COVID-19 has thrown each of them into overdrive.
We must acknowledge how difficult the short-to-medium term dislocation will be for workers and their families. At the same time, however, we know from past experience (dating back to the Industrial Revolution and the advent of steam) that this shift will likely create many more jobs than it destroys. But workers can only do those new jobs if they have the right skills, and unfortunately that does not seem to be the case. Two years ago, the labor analytics firm Burning Glass counted 4.4 million U.S. vacancies across 12 key industries, largely because employers could not find people with the skills they need. Likewise, the overwhelming majority of American HR professionals report that skills shortages are holding back recruitment.
Nor can this skills gap be dealt with on a one-and-done basis. On the contrary: as technology develops faster and faster, people will need to work continuously to keep their skills current. The average “half-life” of workplace skills is now just five years and shrinking, according to the tech scholars John Seely Brown and Peter Denning, meaning that employees must learn an entirely new skill set for at least every decade of their careers. In 2018, the World Economic Forum predicted that more than half of all workers would “require significant re- and upskilling” by 2022. Our current economy is not set up to provide workforce transformation on this scale.
But lurking behind every challenge is an opportunity. Savvy corporate CEOs and CIOs are realizing that they already possess the most valuable asset they need: a deep bench of loyal employees, ripe for reskilling. Big box retailers are transforming their sales clerks into software engineers. Banks are turning tellers into data security specialists. Professional services firms are making app developers out of associates.
In my role at Revature, the largest employer of entry level software engineers in the U.S. according to LinkedIn Talent Insights, I have the privilege of helping to facilitate workforce transformations like these on a daily basis, with a roster of clients that runs the gamut of industry verticals and capabilities. Based on this experience, I believe the recipe for a successful workforce transformation includes several ingredients:
Before you begin, establish and maintain alignment with the strategic objectives of your organization. In particular, ensure that your organization’s talent strategy is synchronous with the capabilities you will need to achieve these objectives.
Map out in detail the skills and technologies you already have and those you need to develop.
Assess the aptitude of your existing workforce—who has the ability and the motivation to re-invent themselves?
Create a tailored curriculum to get new and existing staff up to speed with their new roles. There is no one-size-fits-all here, so consider carefully not just the content but the modality—in the post-COVID world there is a place for remote, instructor-led, and classroom-based training.
Deploy the newly trained staff to continue their learning on the job.
Invest in continuous learning to maintain ROI. Remember that this is a living, breathing process that will only keep pace with innovation if the investment in human capital remains constant.
In our brave new economic world, there is no time to stand still. Everyone—and every business—must become what Revature’s founder and CEO, Ashwin Bharath, calls a “continuous learning animal.” It’s an exhilarating prospect, and I’m proud to be a part of making it happen.