Organizations must be aware of their skills to meet tomorrow’s needs

Mar 17 2021 · Consulting

Written by: Nadja Ekblom

Employees are the most important assets within our organizations. But do we utilize this asset as well as we should to create business benefits now and in the future?

Do you know which skills currently exist in your organisation or in your team? Most readers will probably answer “yes” to this question, although some perhaps more hesitantly than others. So allow me to rephrase the question… What skills will you need in 5 – 10 years? Both halves of our brain are suddenly activated, and speculation regarding the future begins!

In an attempt to gain some form of understanding of the situation, we read reports and study trends concerning customer demand or the latest technological developments. So let me ask you one final question… How should you and your organisation fill the vacuum that exists between the current situation and future needs when it comes to skills?

Development opportunities are crucial

In order for employees to continue to be able to contribute the skills that companies demand, organisations need to have a strategy for skills development for existing personnel in combination with the use of external skills and expertise. Furthermore, focus on skills development is not just positive for your organisation – it also makes you a more attractive employer for existing and future employees alike.

The survey we conducted in 2020 (IT & Tech Professionals Report, Wise IT) shows that the most common reason for employees choosing to leave their job is a lack of development opportunities, followed by a perceived lack of leadership. One of the most important aspects of the role of leader is to support employees on their personal and professional journey.

Many employees are loyal to their employer, but when employees feel that they are not being given opportunities to develop in the right direction, the thought of changing to a new workplace becomes increasingly attractive. Naturally, the individual bears a certain amount of responsibility for their own skills development, but organizations that care about the development and progression of their employees, in the same way, they focus on upgrading their systems, become more attractive as employers. Because let’s face it – who wants to see their career stagnate due to the fact that the skills they possess are no longer in demand? Not me!

How can organizations prepare for the future?

  • Work on the basis of your organization’s and your team’s strategic plans, and ask your customers/clients about their future plans. This provides a better understanding of the skills that will be needed in the future, and the skills which you should focus on developing.
  • Don’t forget your employees in this context. What do they want to learn? What are their main areas of interest? These questions should be asked in the initial dialogues with potential candidates, to ensure accurate and relevant mapping in relation to your organization’s future needs. It is also important to tell your existing and potential employees about the journey you have planned for the future, and about your future needs.
  • When you recruit new individuals to your organization, it is important not to focus on finding a profile that exactly matches the profile of the person they are replacing (someone who has perhaps been at the company for ten years or more). Instead, you need to think about the journey that lies ahead of you, and the skills that will be needed to achieve your future goals.
  • Be clear about your views on skills development, and how you work with it internally. Do you offer training courses and certifications? Does your strategy concern internal career paths or new work duties? What do you actually mean when you talk about “skills development”? Many organizations say that they work with skills development, but their answer to the question of “how” is often more diffuse.
  • Make sure you know where you are heading. Are you seeing new trends, or are you aware of a potential major market shift? Base your strategy on the individuals you currently have in your organization and equip them with the right tools and the right skills. Alternatively, make sure you have a plan to utilize external skills and expertise when necessary.
  • Build your network proactively and with the right skills profile. We place a major focus on ensuring that we have the right individuals in the network before the needs actually arise for ourselves or our customers. This means that we are ready to meet the needs as they arise.
  • Focus on your own skills development! Prioritise and dedicate yourself to learning and testing new skills – in doing so you will lead the rest of your team by setting a good example.

What skills will be needed in the future?

A few weeks ago I was in contact with an organisation that is currently planning recruitment for its tech team. The person I spoke to was transparent about the fact that they probably don’t actually need the individuals they are recruiting at present, but that their skills will be required in five years. I appreciate the honesty of this approach, and I feel that a certain level of healthy staff turnover is beneficial for a company. Yet the question remains: How should organisations equip these individuals with the skills that will be needed in five years?

I and my colleagues at Wise IT are currently performing a survey to find out whether candidates feel that their skills are in demand in the labour market, and which skills organisations deem to be attractive, now and in the future. This, in combination with the attitude of employees and clients to the skills development opportunities on offer, represents important knowledge for future success.

Are organizations living up to the expectations of candidates, and vice versa? We shall see!

 Guest blogger -Nadja Ekblom, Customer Success Manager at Wise IT

Guest blogger -Nadja Ekblom, Customer Success Manager at Wise IT

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