In a world where technological advancements are measured in months, not years, occupations and skill sets that were once relied upon are rapidly becoming obsolete, and there are no signs that the tech revolution will be slowing down. According to the World Economic Forum, the most in-demand occupations and specialties across industries and countries did not exist ten years ago. Further, 65% of the occupations our children will hold in the future do not exist today.

The quickly changing workforce landscape is leading to a shortage of workers with the required skills. A 2017 report by the business consulting firm McKinsey found that almost 40% of U.S. companies cannot find people with the skills they need, even for entry-level jobs.

With companies like AT&T, JPMorgan, and Amazon investing hundreds of millions in retraining or ‘upskilling’ their employees this year, it is becoming evident that the much-heralded ‘future of work’ is well underway. To thrive during this tidal wave of change, businesses must be willing to invest in continuous employee development programs.

AT&T’s ‘Future Ready’ Initiative

Last year, AT&T initiated an employee training initiative after finding that nearly half of its 250,000 employees lacked the necessary math, science, technology, and engineering skills needed to remain competitive. Committed to reskilling its workforce rather than training new employees, the company invests about $220 million each year in internal training programs, provides nearly 20 million hours of training a year, and doles out over $30 million annually for tuition assistance.

The ‘Future Ready’ initiative is a $1 billion web-based, multiyear effort that includes online training courses; and collaborations with leading universities. AT&T encourages employees to have their skills assessed to identify the appropriate training needed for the kinds of jobs the company needs filled. Online employee portfolios that include skill sets, assessments, and training certificates are used to get a real-time snapshot of the company’s talent supply and identify gaps that call for targeted training in specific hard-to-find skills. AT&T’s massive employee training program is perhaps corporate America’s boldest response to this war for talent.

JPMorgan’s ‘New Skills at Work’

Earlier this year, JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced a plan to partner with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Initiative on the Digital Economy. The goal is to forecast emerging skills and occupations that will be in demand in the future. This information will be used to develop training initiatives for the firm’s workforce building on its original, five year $250 million commitment in 2013.

According to Jennie Sparandara, head of workforce initiatives at JPMorgan, the company is slowly rolling out a retraining platform called ‘skills passport.’ Employees use the platform to take assessments to measure their current paths. After the initial skill assessments are complete, employees can view relevant career options and a customized list of training they can take. So far, the project has been deployed in the company’s information technology department, and it will soon be available to employees in operations roles.

Amazon’s ‘Upskilling 2025’ Pledge

While Amazon has only recently announced its $700 million upskilling pledge, months of planning took place before the official launch. Amazon collects, analyzes, and applies insights from trillions of gigabytes of big data every day, so it is no surprise that its employee training program is also backed by data-driven insights. The company collected data from its workforce and leveraged it to make data-driven decisions about the types of training programs to include in its upskill initiatives.

Lessons Learned

Yes, these are some of the largest corporations in the world. However, their decisions to retrain employees rather than hiring and training new employees are repeatable, no matter your company’s size or industry. Any organization can follow these companies’ lead and incorporate upskilling into their talent management strategy.

AT&T, JPMorgan, and Amazon developed ‘retraining’ initiatives in very similar ways. They all:

  • administered internal skills assessments to collect data about their talent supply.
  • analyzed current skills and capabilities of their workforce to identify skills gaps.
  • identified positions that would be necessary in the near future.
  • developed proficiency requirements for skill sets that aligned with their business objectives.
  • developed training programs that aligned with the current and projected future skill gaps.
  • made the training programs web- and mobile-based.

It is important to note that when developing a retraining program, it is imperative that current skill levels of your workforce are assessed. Utilizing eSkill’s assessments allows your company to prioritize and allocate necessary training dollars to areas where your employees need the most upskilling. Without this information, your company can’t adequately plan a retraining program and risk wasting valuable resources. eSkill’s online assessment platform makes evaluating your current talent’s skills effective and efficient. With the largest library of skills tests in the industry and a 15-year record of perfect Equal Employment Opportunity Commission compliance, eSkill is the best option for administering legally defensible skills tests.

So how do successful companies approach employee training? They plan ongoing employee development by using the data collected from skills assessments to develop individualized training programs. Doing so makes learning part of the company culture, empowering employees to take responsibility for their own training and develop new skill sets.

Interested in Skills Tests?

Learn more about the benefits of using eSkill’s skills tests to bridge the skills gap in your workforce.

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Adina Miron

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