Refocusing L&D in Today’s Gig Economy

Due to rapid advancements in the labor market across multiple industries, there is a major rise in the gap between the current competencies of the workforce and the skills necessary to meet the needs of the market. A multitude of articles, research, and whitepaper at the learning and development departments are striving to identify and address the ever-expanding skill gaps. Numerous organizations are turning towards the gig economy in order to rectify the skill gap but this cannot serve as a remedial solution in the longer run. Companies need to upskill their own workforce on a regular basis to amend this emergent concern.

Some of the growing skills of this decade as a state by the World Economic Forum are as follows: active learning and learning strategies, innovation and technological design, critical thinking and complex problem-solving capability, emotional intelligence, creativity, analytical thinking, and evaluation. Before delving into how one can strategize and correct this skill gap let us first understand the crucial driving forces behind this problem.

  • Business acceleration due to technological advancements
    Due to increasing advancement in the predictive science/data science, there is a growing quandary to keep up with the demands of the workplaces. Talent is being redefined even as we read this article today. Many L&D reports have predicted that over 500 companies will be replaced within the next 10 years. Previously, the average life span of business organizations was 55 years. Today it has reduced to 15 years! To remain successful, companies have to continually reinvent themselves at the organizational as well as at an individual level. There must be a major shift from external hires to understanding and building needs in the meet current workforce.
  • Automation
    Mckinsey Global Institute report states that 62% of executives deem they will need to retrain or replace more than a quarter of their workforce between now and 2023 due to automation. Thus in order to be better prepared for the unforeseen disruptions that are coming or are yet to come, there is a clear need for continuous upskilling. L&D departments of each organization must refocus them ‘hire only’ strategy towards the development of skill sets in existing talents who already have the context of the organization and the industry as a whole.
  • The great labor anomaly
    CNBC reports that 92% of the American CEOs are worried that their workforces do not have the skills as per the changing demands of the market. There are over 6 million jobs available in the market yet there aren’t enough people with the right skills to meet these requirements. Several L&D research shows that constant evolution or constant change is the new normal resulting in an unprecedented job crisis. Therefore, training and development must undergo a continuous cycle of upscaling and rescaling while empowering learners to take complete ownership of their own careers. Forbes magazine states “learning how to learn is the most important skill of the 21st century”.

According to Simone Stolzoff, “Skills are actionable. They can guide workers toward understanding their unique value, where they are deficient, and what they want to learn.” Since skill gaps are not yet data-driven it becomes extremely adverse to recognize these gaps and resolve them. There is a dire need for a universal language of skills that can be measured and worked upon. In order to do this one needs to, firstly, acknowledge the existence of skill gaps in one’s organization and eventually make transformational changes at each level of an organization. L&D can refocus their attention towards sustaining the workforce of the organization rather than hiring freelancers and contractual workers as a replacement.

Lastly, it is important to understand how to identify and match the right skills with the right roles. There are four ways of addressing this dilemma.

  • Know the role – Set out clear and measurable core responsibilities for the role.
  • Know the now – Assess the high impact gap by scrupulously looking into each of the levels of the role.
  • Know the goal – Focus on the key area of development and acquire insights into the responsibilities, accountabilities, and outputs of the role.
  • Know how – Define a clear action plan to fill the gap present in the role.

In a nutshell, L&D must refocus its attention towards retaining its current workforce by analyzing and working upon the skill gaps. In an ever-changing working environment, it is highly significant to undergo intermittent upskilling, in order to confront the challenges rather than turning towards the gig economy as a key to resolve the conflict.

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