According to an article published last year on the World Economic Forum site, access to skilled workers is already a critical factor that sets successful companies apart from failing ones. The item points out that in an increasingly data-driven future, the European Commission believes there could be as many as 756,000 unfilled jobs in the European ICT sector by 2020.
Training to bridge the skills gap
Skills gaps across all industries are poised to grow during the Fourth Industrial Revolution – the digital revolution. Rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and other emerging technologies are happening in ever shorter cycles, changing the very nature of the jobs that need to be done – and the skills needed to do them – faster than ever before.
The World Economic Forum estimates that more than half (54%) of all employees require significant reskilling by 2022, suggesting a holistic solution that prioritises new approaches to skills development within an existing workforce and in previously untapped talent pools.
Training staff is always a good thing to do. We know about the benefits of developing employees, such as increased job satisfaction, increased employee motivation and improved efficiencies. Coupled with this, technological changes and the continual permeation of digital into our lives means that developing digital skills is crucial to all employers. In fact, it’s estimated that 85% of the jobs we’ll need in the digital economy haven’t been invented yet.
And of course, we must mention Covid19 – the global pandemic that has made us all more familiar with digital communication platforms, whether we like it or not. Businesses have had to adopt remote working practices quickly, embrace tech and now might be thinking about the legacy of using new digital technology after Covid19.
A change to more online working practices, again calls into question the existing skillsets of employees and the training and development requirement.
Time to learn new skills
Why is now such an excellent training opportunity for companies and employees alike? Research shows that a critical barrier that prevents adults from learning is a lack of time. While we are in this state of lockdown, many people are finding they have additional time on their hands.
This spare capacity is an excellent opportunity for them to learn something new – so why not something that can help them with their career? From the employer’s perspective too, there is an opportunity to utilise this time to improve the skills within teams and derive the benefits – increased efficiency in process and increased productivity – when business is back to normal and demand returns.
Remote learning online
As we see during the lockdown period, there is a multitude of online platforms that people are using for staying connected, presenting and sharing information. There is a similar abundance of online learning platforms.
The good news is then that the tech is available, and more teachers and trainers are savvy at delivering the virtual classroom experiences. So learners are not losing out by starting a new training course or apprenticeship programme online. We recently spoke about how we are delivering our apprenticeship programmes remotely with minimal disruption to learning. The online platforms we used meant we could offer a virtual classroom experience for all learners, even those requiring technical sessions via remote PC access.
Training funded with the levy
Technically, levy-paying businesses have already paid for staff development. So why not capitalise and use apprenticeships to upskill?
Employers can use the funds they have already had ring-fenced by the levy scheme, so not incurring the additional cost at these difficult times. And the levy can be used to develop existing staff through higher-level tech and management apprenticeship, such as the programmes Just IT currently run; IT level 4, Business Analysts, Software Developer and Project Management.
The traditional view of apprentices being entry-level school leavers or labour-intensive workers is changing. In recent years employer-led redesigns to apprenticeships have led to them being highly valued training and education routes, emphasising quality, knowledge and practical skills. And concerns from employers about apprenticeships having a 20% off the job training requirements, are now less of an issue as ever-evolving people plans focus on the training and development need to be ongoing if they are to lead to more efficiency and productivity.
Keep staff engaged with training
It is widely acknowledged that developing staff will improve overall retention of talent – and the cost-benefit of not losing key people – as well as helping to attract new talent. But in these difficult times for all of us, perhaps the key benefits are the boost to staff morale and increased motivation that embarking on new training brings about.
Employees who have training and development opportunities tend to be happier in their roles and have a brighter outlook on their future with the company. Upskilling employees helps them visualise their career path and get excited about working toward something that will better them and their career prospects.
The World Economic Forum points out the benefits of staff development to employers, suggesting that successful companies are those successful in workforce transformation and developing staff. A skilled workforce allows these companies to harness new technologies and reach higher levels of efficiency of production and engage better with a consumer base composed increasingly of digital natives”.
If you would like information on how you can utilise your apprenticeship levy to develop staff then we can advise.