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Adapting to the Future of Work: The Importance of Pre-Skilling and Human Skills

Sometimes, aren't you overwhelmed by the sensation that the world of work is spinning at a tremendously fast pace? One moment, you're well versed with all the latest trends and the next moment, you find artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, augmented reality, and a host of other new technologies making everything you've known seem obsolete.

However, amidst this whirlwind, there's a silver lining. No matter how rapid or dramatic the changes, one thing remains steadfast – human potential. Enter pre-skilling – the concept of equipping individuals with essential skills before they become necessary for their current roles.

Think of pre-skilling as preparing for an adventurous hike. You wouldn't dare venture into the wild and treacherous mountains without the right gear, like a backpack, a compass, water, and weather-appropriate clothing, would you? Similarly, pre-skilling equips individuals with the necessary tools to navigate the ever-changing landscape of the job market.

Reskilling, Upskilling, and Pre-Skilling: What's the Difference?
But how does pre-skilling differ from reskilling and upskilling? While all three concepts involve skill acquisition, they have distinct purposes and contexts. Reskilling addresses the need to match skillsets with the evolving demands of the job market, ensuring long-term competitiveness. Upskilling focuses on enhancing existing skills within the same domain or career path, enabling access to more advanced roles. Pre-skilling, on the other hand, is about addressing future needs, preparing individuals with skills they will need before those skills become necessary for their current role. It anticipates changes in the job market and aims to ensure individuals are ready for upcoming challenges.

Pre-skilling can also serve as an individual's first deep dive into a new area of learning. For instance, a manufacturing worker who begins learning about green practices is not only preparing for potential future job requirements but also taking control of their career trajectory. This proactive learning allows them to explore what kind of employer they would want to work for in the future. From an employer's perspective, a candidate's engagement in such pre-skilling demonstrates their interest, motivation, and overall learnability – key traits for success in a rapidly evolving work environment.

Already, several companies in sectors with high growth and rapid technological advances are embracing this concept. Microsoft, for example, has invested in early training programs designed to build awareness and train their future workforce. And at ManpowerGroup, our Manpower MyPath program has helped nearly a quarter of a million people strengthen their employability through skills assessment and development plans aligned with future market demand.

Leveraging Pre-Skilling in Hiring
In today's fast-paced job market, more employers are starting to realize the incredible potential of pre-skilling, not just for their existing employees but also for their future hires. By weaving pre-skilling programs into their hiring process, companies can spot candidates who possess those crucial soft skills and the right mindset to flourish in a constantly changing work environment.

Pre-skilling also allows organizations to shift their focus from a candidate's current technical know-how or past job experience to their potential and future employability. This approach means giving more weight to soft skills like the ability to learn, think critically, bounce back, and adapt. These skills are like the foundation of a house – they're what you build technical skills on top of and are absolutely essential for long-term success in any role. By looking at a candidate's soft skills and potential, rather than just their current expertise, employers can build a workforce that's better equipped to adapt in the face of unrelenting change.

By making pre-skilling a part of their hiring strategies, employers can ensure their workforce is always ready to tackle new challenges head-on.

Cultivating Soft Skills in Organizations
At its core, pre-skilling underscores our uniquely human skills – critical thinking, creativity, teamwork, communication, empathy, and emotional intelligence. As automation takes over monotonous, repetitive tasks, these skills will come to the forefront and truly shine. The increasing importance of soft skills in the modern workplace is driven by the transition to a knowledge and service economy, rapid technological change, and the transformation of the workforce composition. Lifelong learning – learnability – and adaptability, along with personal growth, are key to future-proofing careers.

Many organizations are already home to individuals who possess these skills. The trick is to identify them, cultivate their talents, and give them the recognition they rightfully deserve. This is the magic of pre-skilling. By focusing on soft skills from the get-go, we can tap into a person's full potential and pave the way for long-standing success.

Navigating the Ever-Changing Future
At my heart, I’m an optimist. I truly believe that by putting people at the forefront, we can successfully navigate the twists and turns of the future of work. The road ahead may be filled with uncertainties, however, by putting people at the forefront and investing in pre-skilling initiatives, we can foster a workforce that is adaptable, resilient, inclusive, and well-equipped to thrive in the face of change. Pre-skilling not only benefits individuals by enhancing their employability but also helps organizations stay competitive in an increasingly dynamic business world. However, by putting people at the forefront and investing in pre-skilling initiatives, we can foster a workforce that is adaptable, resilient, inclusive, and well-equipped to thrive in the face of change.

That's the world I'm rooting for and betting on.