by Jesmond Saliba
The pandemic has knocked down many of our assumptions; the idea of reskilling is not among them. If anything, its relevance has only risen since the coronavirus dropped in unannounced and derivative words from the term ‘skill’ keep sprouting in business and policy-making lexicons.
Analysts expect that roughly a billion jobs globally will be radically transformed over the next decade to respond to changes in the working and living environment. Reskilling, however, is not merely an exercise of adaptation to new automation tools or regulatory regimes; it is a strategy to drive the economic innovation that builds social cohesion.
In contrast with traditional linear training paths, reskilling is inherently outward looking: the worth of an employee is not measured by their industry-specialised skillset or their ability to fulfil the functions of the job. They are now expected to contribute to a company’s development, to spur agility, to support peripheral vision.
More crucially, a reskilling approach has an integrative view of the labour force and understands that ripples at one end of the talent pool will surge into waves at another. Innovation begets innovation. But reskilling is not important just for the sake of change and newness: its power is to broaden accessibility to the tools that generate dignity, accomplishment, and security. A skills-nurturing climate generates greater social mobility and democratises economic opportunities.
Reskilling provides multiple chances for success throughout life, a promise especially vital for those who did not get off the springboard of schooling with a big enough leap.
An economic plan today cannot overlook ongoing learning, particularly in knowledge-based economies. A skills deficiency not only blunts the competitive edge of a country but widens social inequity by cutting the socially vulnerable out of opportunities.
Businesses have a fundamental role to play in building a culture of reskilling and upskilling. They create the context and define the mix of abilities that national economies, educational institutions, and workers’ organisations work towards. An effective reskilling agenda is, ultimately, indispensable for companies to grow into learning organisations that are able to identify challenges and go at them with real solutions.
A serious reskilling programme is no amateur’s game. It requires solid commitment, a long vision, and perseverance. But unlike any other game, with reskilling every player wins.
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