Constant upskilling key as workplaces continue to evolve

10 May 2021 2 min. read

As the pace of change in Canada’s workplaces continues to accelerate, employers will have to focus on hiring workers with “enduring capabilities” who can have their skills constantly refreshed, according to Deloitte’s recent “Future-ready workforce” report.

With post-secondary educational institutions unable to constantly retool to the evolving needs of the nation’s employers, companies will themselves have to become a site of continual, lifelong learning.

“The skills that workers need for any given job changes too quickly for traditional organizational learning strategies to be effective,” said Kathy Woods, national workforce transformation leader at Deloitte Canada.

Since companies will have to refresh their workers’ skills more frequently, traditional classroom training will fall short. Instead, Deloitte says education has to be available in real time, when and where it’s needed.

And because many employee skills might have an increasingly sooner expiry date, the report emphasizes focusing on sourcing people with “enduring capabilities,” such as imagination, curiosity, resilience, creativity, and critical thinking.

Constant upskilling key as workplaces continue to evolve

“It’s these human capabilities that will allow organizations and employees to sense and respond to change and to rapidly learn the skills needed at that moment to continue moving forward and thrive in this environment of relentless disruption,” Woods said.

Organizations seem to understand the centrality of reskilling, but few are making the necessary investments in the area. Three quarters (74%) of respondents said reskilling their workforce will be important to their success over the next 12-18 months. However, only 17% think they can anticipate the skills their workforce will require, and only 16% expect to make significant investments in learning over the next three years.  

“It’s time to prioritize 'learning to learn' and humanizing our work so that our workforces are adaptable and ready to take on any challenge.  If we don’t act now we will fall behind, making post-pandemic business recovery all the more challenging,” Woods said.

The report also emphasized leveraging recently strengthened remote-work infrastructure to more easily source talent. “Does your talent pool need to be city-specific or can you draw from talent pools across the entire country?” asked Woods. “Every company needs to proactively re-examine how the nature of their work has changed.”

The consulting firm also noted the approaching wave of automation, which will eventually eliminate basic, repetitive tasks in office administration and other areas. Organizations will have to examine the purpose of all their roles, and prepare for a hybrid workforce of human and machines.