The Global Reskilling Revolution and the New Importance of Skill Transference
According to the World Economic Forum, the world is facing a reskilling emergency.
“By 2022 the skills required to perform most jobs will have shifted significantly. Global average 'skills stability’— the proportion of core skills required to perform a job that will remain the same — is expected to be about 58%. That means workers will see an average shift of 42% in required workplace skills in the period leading up to 2022.”
Additionally, the WEF’s Future of Jobs 2018 report is forecasting that “Emerging skills gaps — both among individual workers and among companies’ senior leadership — may significantly obstruct organization’s transformation management. Depending on industry and geography, between one-half and two-thirds of companies are likely to turn to external contractors, temporary staff and freelancers to address their skills gaps.”
How do we solve this deficit in skill stability and address the need to fill emerging skill gaps? The WEF offers a number of solutions including a shift to focus on lifelong learning for workers and employers, investment in the skill sets of future workers, bridging the gender and diversity gaps to make employment more inclusive, and the concerted effort of companies and governments to generate sustainable and scalable solutions.
However, they’ve left one important solution off the list: skill transference.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, “A poor understanding of how job skills transfer among occupations—especially from occupations in decline to in-demand fields—is one of the biggest reasons for the nation's skills gap.”
And a 2017 New York Times article showed how much overlap there is between seemingly dissimilar occupations. “A big part of the problem is the labor market does a poor job of matching employers with employees — in hiring, and in educating and retraining them to meet employers’ needs.”
In addition to the shortcomings of the labor market in matching employers and employees, workers themselves have no effective resource to easily identify their skill sets, verify them for employers, and importantly, learn about other careers and industries where those skill sets are in demand.
“Workers often don’t realize that the skills they have for one job can be easily transferred to another — nor do employers,” according to Ryan Roslansky, CEO of LinkedIn. “Take food servers who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. More than 70% of them have the skills needed to succeed in customer service, which is currently one of the most in-demand jobs on LinkedIn. Had servers and people hiring for customer service specialists known they already had many of the required skills, we may have seen a significant shift of out-of-work food servers into in-demand roles instead of seeing those positions go unfilled.”
The need for effective skill transference data isn’t limited to the job candidate. Businesses are recognizing the impact skill transference identification can have within their organizations.
When a manager or HR department can accurately assess an employee’s skill set, they can combine that data with skill transference insights to enable more effective talent planning, focused career growth, and learning and development opportunities. It can also enable the cross-training of employees to create future leaders who are well-rounded in their knowledge and understanding of an enterprise.