Yes, you should invest in upgrading the skills of your evolving workforce. Here’s why.

Opinions expressed by Contractor the contributors are theirs.

The next generation is reshaping the future of work with the new and changing demands of their employers. Workers adopt more fluid terms with the companies that employ them, often opting for freelance and more flexible work, or moving sideways much more often than previous generations. With all of that in mind, you should expect to cut back on spending on upgrading the skills or re-qualifying your staff, right? Wrong. In fact, I would recommend the exact opposite.

The world needs more skilled workers. According to World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report 2020, companies estimate that by 2024 around 40% of workers will need retraining for up to six months, and 94% of business leaders say they expect employees to regularly learn new skills at work. The World Economic Forum also considers that large-scale investment in skills development has the potential to increase GDP by $ 6.5 trillion by 2030.

But for many companies and workers, the pre-existing and perhaps outdated vision of working life and organizational harmony – a vision where knowledge workers came to work and spent their entire careers in large companies – has been obliterated by major economic and technological trends. We no longer expect companies to invest a lot in our professional development as we probably don’t plan to stay long. We know it, and they know it.

The ladder is shattered – and it has its advantages – but abandoning efforts to upgrade the skills of employees, whether full-time or on contract, is a short-sighted maneuver that will cost executives down the road.

Today, 80% of CEOs rank the need to facilitate skill improvement as their biggest business challenge, so you’re not alone if you’re wondering if it’s worth the time and money. Here are a few reasons why skills upgrading is an investment businesses can’t live without.

Cultivate an ecosystem of talents and ambassadors

Millennials with precarious jobs and Gen Z have heard about what used to happen: You got a job with a big company and spent many years there, if not your entire career. Companies invested in the professional growth of their employees because they knew that if employees were likely to stay, they would pay off that investment in higher caliber production over the decades. Investing in the education or development of workers who may only be around for a short time may seem like a waste of resources, but brands need to think beyond the short term.

Early in my career I landed at GE – I loved it. I heard (anecdotally) that 80% of people left the company within their first five years of employment and that of those who stayed for more than five years, 80% would retire from the company. at the end of their career. But here’s what’s interesting about GE: They’ve put a tremendous amount of time, effort and investment into training 80% of the people who have left. The market and the candidates knew that being with GE was as important as being with GE (and GE knew that too). Their training program was (and I hope it continues to be) the gold standard, and those who took it were the best in their class. GE knew long before today’s fundamental disruption in the labor market that its physical products weren’t the only items it sold. It also put the GE seal on resumes, making it a great place and a place the next generation of talent wanted to go.

The lesson: you are your people. While the people who work in your business are great because you’ve invested in their development, they’re still creating value for you in the marketplace even after you’ve gone their separate ways – and that inevitable separation is likely to happen far sooner. with today’s generation of professionals than in the past. I left my five year mark at GE for a bit, but I have immense respect for the time and investment they put into developing me, and I continue to look for GE alumni to hire as I go. and as I develop my own business.

Related: Why You Should Prioritize Upgrading Your Workforce’s Skills

Shared knowledge breeds more knowledge

The medical world has a concept: to see one, to make one, to teach one. He talks about expectations in the realm of learning to do, from practice to mastery, and from mastery to mentoring. When working full-time for a company, career paths are often fairly straightforward, with roles reflecting the position of employees in the hierarchy. Titles mean different things at different companies, but it’s not difficult for an HR professional to determine a potential hire’s experience by looking at their current and past titles.

Self-employed workers and entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are self-directed in their professional growth and education. With that, it’s no surprise that most freelancers say clients rarely offer to pay for them to be trained. When the network Gather When asked whether or not their clients offer on-the-job training, 71% of respondents answered no. Contract workers are expected to arrive with mastery and stay put. It’s unrealistic and anathema to the way skills are learned and reputations (both for the entrepreneur and the company) are built.

At all times, you, as a company, should have the most qualified people in your organization, although some of those people will be leaving shortly thereafter. If you expect contract workers to arrive with full mastery of their skills and the unwavering ability to apply them to your organization, you are doing them a disservice, their colleagues and your business as a whole. . If you are not interested in increasing their knowledge base, they have little motivation to increase the knowledge of those around them.

The lesson here: Mastery is a never-ending quest as well as contagious. Investing time and energy in upgrading the skills of every worker that walks through your door leads to this knowledge and enthusiasm for the job.

Related: How to Leverage AI to Improve Employee Skills

Think long term

Companies shouldn’t regard someone who just left after spending three years developing them as a brain drain. They should be seen as brand ambassadors, and their accomplishments are a testament to the value of the company as an employer. Rather than resent this new model of worker, who may move sideways from company to company or prefer to work independently for multiple employers, companies should take advantage of the ripple effect. which supports their training and development. The resulting thinking about your brand is priceless (conversely, think about the damage that can be done to your business when you have an exodus of poorly trained workers). These workers will be honest brokers – for better or for worse – of your company’s culture when they pass through other clients.

As an executive, you’re probably thinking about this year’s bonus, this quarter’s earnings, or this month’s vacancies. From experience, companies that invest in their people reap the most benefits. Think long term, invest in your talents, and expect them to leave. But no matter where they go, their value adds up to your bottom line as brand value.

Related: Why You Need To ‘Improve Your Skills’ To Stay On Top Of The Trends


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