Canadian banks tackle upskilling as talent worries continue

12 March 2020 3 min. read

As banks increasingly deploy technologies such as data dashboards, chatbots, and analytics, they need to make sure that employees can work effectively with the new tech, according to a recent report from PwC.

Approximately 5% to 10% of roles in an organization are changing annually, leading to a skills mismatch. Developing those skills through relevant training and experience is essential to keep employees effective within morphing roles.

"By upskilling their existing workforce, Canadian banks are creating new energy and excitement to reimagine the possible while making themselves fit for the future of work," said Jennifer Johnson, national financial services leader, PwC Canada.

Seventy-seven percent of top banking executives are concerned about the availability of key skills, according to PwC’s CEO Survey. Banks are, as such, rethinking their approach to upskilling – building robust training programs, partnering with learning institutions, creating external exchanges and job rotations, and transforming workspaces.

Canadian banks tackle upskilling as talent worries continue

Scotiabank, for example, has tagged $250 million over the next 10 years to upskilling, which includes teaming up with Queen’s University on a program to upskill executives on artificial intelligence. CIBC, meanwhile, is concentrating 15,000 employees from 20+ offices in Toronto into a central headquarters with technology-enabled collaborative workspaces.

The PwC report – Canadian Banks 2020: Upskilling the workforce – highlights five key opportunities for Canadian banks’ upskilling efforts.

Tailor the upskilling journey

As back-office functions are automated, banks need to consider how employee roles will change. Branch employees, for example, need to have the digital skills to take advantage of new technology. Training can also include empathy-based skills and better understanding of customer needs and goals.

Empower employees through citizen-led innovation

The citizen-led approach relies on employees to increase tech capabilities while empowering them to develop small-scale business solutions. It creates a culture where employees are inspired to upskill and then given the autonomy to apply the skills right away in their work. PwC states that the approach is particularly effective in areas such as operations, finance, and risk management.

Take an ecosystem approach to upskilling

An ecosystem approach creates a mix of skills that match the needs of individual employees and different groups. The upskilling elements can include immersive training, gamification, and change coaches. The end result, according to the report, helps employees immediately apply what they learn to drive real business outcomes.

Embrace new leadership styles and skills for the digital age

Leaders play a key role in establishing a continuous learning culture. However, leaders can’t have all the answers in a complex and shifting environment. “Instead, leaders will increasingly need to bring together people with diverse perspectives and backgrounds to solve difficult problems and act as an enabler who empowers others to get things done,” the report states.

Rethink jobs and career paths

Job design and progression needs to be revamped to create meaningful career paths that support skills development, according to PwC. Financial crimes “fusion centers,” for example, are driving career paths that focus on cross-training in anti-money laundering, fraud, and cybersecurity. Demand for cybersecurity expertise, meanwhile, is leading to operations technology career paths where OT engineers are upskilled to understand cybersecurity risks.