For several years now, there have been talks about the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”; what it will mean for the ways we communicate with each other, the way we live and most importantly — how it will influence the way we work. This revolution is already happening all around us, and we can see it with scientific advances such as self-driving cars, algorithms that predict consumer questions and respond using chatbots, AI-powered applications that can spot cancer and so much more. All of this speed-of-light progress will potentially create a real challenge for the future of the global workforce.
According to a report done by the McKinsey Global Institute, in about 60% of all occupations, a third of all activities could be automated at some point. The Institute also predicts that by 2030 about 400 million jobs could be displaced by automation, while around 75 million employees will be forced to change occupational categories. Since technology is developing faster than degrees are being gained, it seems that a policy of workforce reskilling is needed in order to make sure companies stay afloat.
What is Reskilling?
With the rapid leaps in automation and AI, a role that was relevant for a company last year, may not exist anymore. In the same way, a position that didn’t exist yesterday may become a principal fixture in your organization, without any warning, with no one to fill it. As mentioned, you can’t rely on universities and other educational institutions to keep up with the demand for adding new subjects to their curriculum, wait for candidates to gain enough experience and continue recruiting new employees to keep up with the changes.
When you reskill employees, you take your existing workers and train them on how to adapt to the new realities of the market. This can be done in many ways — with mentoring, online courses, sending them back to school, conferences, and seminars. The goal is to find the gaps in knowledge and make sure that the employees gain the new information needed to help them stay on the new career path created by progress. Reskilling employees is risky, as not all will be able to grow and acquire new abilities, in which case, you will spend a lot of money in vain. But those who learn will also be retained for longer periods of time. The way you approach recruiting can support your efforts to reskill employees later on.
How Does Workforce Reskilling Influence Recruiting?
First and foremost, the end goal of workforce reskilling should influence the type of candidate you’re looking to hire. Instead of searching for specific qualifications, experience, and hard skills, the aim should be to examine the applicant’s personality. For instance, you may wish to hire a software engineer, but instead of looking for someone who is fluent in a specific programming language and has three years of experience, you may wish to hire someone who is eager to learn, shows an aptitude in solving problems and a willingness to develop in different areas. Reskilling employees who possess such qualities will be much easier.
Job descriptions, the selection process, and interviews should match this frame of mind as well. You should be more flexible in your requirements and criteria, as well as the screening process, which will naturally result in diversity in your hiring. Some ways to help locate the right candidates who will later fit the policy of workforce reskilling is to adapt AI and machine learning in recruiting as well — use HR analysts to try and find the best soft skills in resumes, for example. Virtual reality, simulations, and gaming can help observe candidates’ reactions to new situations, and see if they are adept at problem-solving.
It’s also important to sit down with your recruiter or hiring manager and look at your company’s trajectory when recruiting new candidates. Think of recruiting like this — you are not looking to fill a gap that you have in your team right now, but create a new branch that will grow over time into its own tree. Aim to employ candidates that will be able to develop along with your company, by defining their roles for now and the future as well.