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No Time to Wait: Upskill Now to Future-Proof Your Business

Hiring optimism has returned to levels not seen since the start of the pandemic with employers in 42 of 43 countries reporting stronger hiring outlooks year-over-year according to the latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey (MEOS) of over 45,000 employers. Yet that optimism is being tempered by global talent shortages with nearly 7 in 10 (69%) employers globally reporting difficulty filling vacancies; the highest recorded levels since ManpowerGroup first began asking about talent shortages in 2006.

COVID’s shuffling of the deck has created the biggest workforce shift and reallocation of skills since World War II – even those skills most in demand in the early phase of the crisis are different compared to demand emerging now and expected in future. But It’s not just skills specific to an industry or job title. 

Several factors are contributing to the talent shortages, including health concerns due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, childcare challenges for employees struggling to balance work and home life, but a significant driver continues to be the struggle  to find talent with the right mix of both hard and soft skills making upskilling/reskilling an imperative to succeed in today's environment.

According to the Q3 2021 ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey, the top 5 most difficult roles to fill globally are:

  1. Operations/Logistics
  2. Manufacturing/Production
  3. IT/Data
  4. Sales/Marketing
  5. Administration/Office Support

Along with filling those roles with qualified candidates, employers are increasingly searching for people who not only possess the hard skills required for those positions, but, also the relevant soft skills – in times of rapid transformation and uncertainty, these soft skills are more important than ever in workers and in leaders. In fact, several employers reported wanting someone with hard-to-find soft skills that they could train or upskill in the respective hard skill areas they were hiring for. When asked, employers revealed the top 5 most difficult soft skills to find are:

  1. Accountability, reliability and discipline 
  2. Resilience, stress tolerance and adaptability
  3. Initiative taking
  4. Reasoning, problem-solving
  5. Leadership and social influence

What’s the overarching theme of the aforementioned skills? People matter. Employers should invest in their talent to ensure they have the right blend of technical and soft skills  to succeed in the digital age.

Invest in the talent you already have.

We already know that retention is a better long-term solution financially vs. recruiting, hiring, and training new people. It costs about 25% more to hire vs. retain. If you invest in your existing workforce, you not only create more skilled workers for your organization, you save time and money by not having to get someone new in the door and getting them up to speed.

Investing in your people is an important way to stay head of your competition. Leon C. Megginson, famed researcher, author and professor of management practices, once said, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” What preparations are you undertaking?

Skills are evolving – prepare for that reality.

 One of the best ways to ensure this agility is to embrace upskilling, or steadily learning new skills that can be applied in their work, and to fulfill newly created roles and jobs. The skills employees need in the future will be different from the past. Just as your business is constantly changing, the way we work is constantly evolving and it’s time to encourage all of the workforce to reskill and engage in continuous learning, not just those who would have upskilled anyway. Encourage remote learning and support workers to reclaim their commute with curated learning opportunities aligned to the skills your business needs. Just as your workforce will need to adapt, so to will your business.

Several major companies, including Amazon, IBM, Nationwide, PwC and others, have committed to spending millions of dollars on programs that help their employees improve their digital skills. They are solving their talent shortage concerns by upskilling in-house. Thus, creating a more agile, flexible and skilled workforce.

It's what employees want

Employees want education and training, but they also want more than that--stretch opportunities; rotational assignments; on-the-job learning and apprenticeships; stimulating projects and agile work across various teams and functions; applying fresh skills in new roles; thinking harder; feeling more tested; being on a clear career pathway from this job to next (source: Closing the Skills Gap: Know What Workers Want). They want work that offers variety, broadens their experience and builds knowledge and skills. They want the opportunity to develop and to earn more. They are realizing they need a long shelf life in this fast-changing, career-marathon world of work. To deliver challenge and opportunities so people succeed and stick around, managers need to understand skills, potential and desires. With assessment, insight and a culture of learnability they can coach individuals so they thrive in a supportive environment.

Now is our opportunity to re-shape a future that is closer to what we know workers have wanted all along – more flexible, more virtual, more trusting and allowing people to better blend work and home, while allowing organizations to tap talent that can work from wherever. By powering, and empowering, your people, you’ll power your business.

Learn more about the Talent Shortage and download the Talent Shortage-Employment Outlook infographic.