June 30, 2021

Upskilling for the post-pandemic world

The pandemic is a one-of-a-kind challenge that has impacted every aspect of our lives – be it professional, leisure or personal. The corporate world too has witnessed a series of disruptions that required businesses to rethink everything from processes, policies and traditional workspaces. The changes created new challenges like a widening skill gap but have also presented opportunities to adapt to new business models and equip the workforce with the relevant skills.

Why do we need to upskill?

The pandemic resulted in accelerated digital transformation, remote work and innovation in operations, collaboration and communication – all at the same time. The conventional ways of working are already obsolete and traditional skills will phase out soon. We need to upskill our workforce so that they remain resilient in the face of unexpected situations and have the ability to deliver new business models.

Individuals with the right and relevant skills will be in a better position to participate in the post-pandemic economy. Upskilling allows them to leverage their talent to create real value for themselves and others. It is time for business leaders to devise workforce strategies that focus on upskilling. This will enable organisations to adapt to the new normal of the future, take advantage of advancements in technology and remain competitive in the post-pandemic world.

How do we upskill?

Writer and futurist Alvin Toffler said, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” In today’s competitive landscape, mere learning is not enough for growth. We have to develop a mindset of ‘unlearn, learn, relearn’.

Professionals of all ages and experience levels must be prepared to gain knowledge and new skills, discard old processes and information and learn what we know again in the evolving circumstances. Upskilling effectively involves being curious and challenging our beliefs and assumptions to gain cutting-edge skills and adapt to the new.

Traditional businesses are going digital. They are transitioning to digital operations to respond to evolving customer needs, offer consistent customer experience, unlock productivity and manage scale. Upskilling the workforce is a critical success factor in this digital transformation.

Organisations need to develop a holistic talent plan for employee skill development. A successful strategy will provide depth to the existing skill set of the workforce and empower them to embrace opportunities in a way that adds value to the organisation and their employability. Skilling programs that impart technical skills and digital literacy will go a long way in driving organisational success and providing economic mobility to employees.

Upskilling is a strategic lever for businesses to adapt to the post-pandemic world by preparing their employees for it. Organisations need to adopt a multi-pronged approach to reskill and upskill. Learning & development teams will have to develop a comprehensive skilling program that ensures cross-training, development of soft skills, cognitive skills and imparts digital and technical skills.

Companies that implement innovative learning approaches will achieve their skilling goals better and faster. Apart from in-house training sessions and self-learning courses, newer learning methods such as social learning and personalised content delivery must be incorporated. Organisations can collaborate with educational institutions for niche skills. Another way is to provide specific work-related training and modular, less structured and smaller pieces of training.

Upskilling tips for professionals

Many professionals took the opportunity to improve their digital skills over the last year. The current business environment and rapid digital transformation demand new capabilities from employees, so they must move forward on their skilling journey.

Workers across industries must figure out how they can adapt to changing business scenarios and equip themselves to match present and future roles and activities. Individuals must be proactive in gaining in-demand knowledge and skills. It’s a good practice to create a skill map of what will be in demand in the future and how one can acquire those skills.

Acquiring skills required in the present and future helps employees remain relevant in their organisation and industry. It also arms them with the appropriate tools for upcoming opportunities and challenges. In addition to future-proofing themselves, they can advance in their career and steer their organisation towards success in the post-pandemic world.

Organisations have to develop critical workforce capabilities so that employees and organisations both become resilient and emerge stronger on the other side of the pandemic.