Building Future-Ready Talent Pool To Drive Success

A business leader with multi-disciplinary experience, Irwin is passionate about building and growing teams of performers who drive business results through user centric innovations, data driven decision making and meticulous execution

Workplace transformation is accelerating and building the necessary knowledge for the future can feel like an insurmountable task. It is hard to keep pace with the skills necessary to perform our jobs today, but even harder to predict what we'll need to know to be successful in the future.

According to research, by 2027 India will have the largest workforce in the world that is 15 to 64 years old. That puts immense pressure on organizations and their HR leaders to figure out the best and most efficient way to train and upskill their employees for the jobs to come. Lifelong learning is no longer an abstract concept that is nice to have. Rather, lifelong learning is imperative for business and employee success. If organizations don't invest the time and resources in learning programs, they won't have the most competitive workforce that helps them stay ahead of the competition and market trends that can impact the industry.

But how does one approach such an important and complex task? The first step is for leaders to recognize that they need to change the way they think about learning. They can't be prescriptive and act as gatekeepers of knowledge anymore. Instead, they should provide the necessary tools and access to learning and put the employees in the driver seat of their skills development. After all, it is the employees who know best what skills exactly they are lacking to complete a project, the new software or tools that will make them more productive. Enabling employees to take control of their learning needs will also help them better navigate their broader career goals and dreams. Learning should help everyone achieve whatever comes next for them and organizational leaders should empower that transformation.

Regardless of the industry, companies' future success is very much based on their ability to utilize new and emerging technologies

Here are three ways that an investment in learning will yield real benefits for an organization.

1. Stay ahead of workplace transformation
Technology and automation are transforming the way we work and do our jobs. It is important to understand that learning is not an interruption during the day but an investment in creating a competitive future for both the employee and the organization. Learning should be a strategic asset for everyone. To extract even more from the benefit of learning, organizational leaders should ensure their employees not only have access to professional development but that knowledge is available to tap into whenever they need. It is no longer sufficient to provide in-person training at pre-scheduled times and dates. Learning should be on-demand and accessible from anywhere.

2. Close your own skills gap
Accenture estimated earlier this year that the skills gap in India may cost $1.97 trillion in potential cumulative GDP growth over the next 10 years. Companies are starting to understand this striking reality and the importance of investing in learning within an organization. Putting the right programs and tools in place to upskill the existing talent in an organization is more cost-effective and faster than trying to recruit and onboard new people in order to close the skills gap within. Besides, workers genuinely want access to learning opportunities--and they're willing to leave for new employment when they don't get it. This is especially true among the newest entrants to the workforce, like millennials and Gen Z.

3. Fuel innovation.
Regardless of the industry, companies' future success is very much based on their ability to utilize new and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and data science, to name a few. However, in order to be successful in doing so, companies also need to have the talent who knows how to build the right systems and practices in place so that the business can benefit from these new technologies. In a learning culture, where upskilling is encouraged and available, employees are more likely to experiment and innovate.

Today's CEOs prize innovation and see it as critical to growth, but according to PwC research, 77 percent of them "find it difficult to get the creativity and innovation skills they need" and regard the skills gap as a threat to innovation. Organizational leaders need to communicate how a learning culture can help close that gap and spur innovation too.

A love of learning is critical for individuals looking to advance in their careers. Creating a learning culture is just as critical for companies because it attracts versatile employees who can flourish and adapt in a time of constant change.