How to Train and Re-Skill Employees: Closing the Skills Gap in the Face of Automation

August 21, 2018 By Anna Pajor, SPHR - Leave a comment

shutterstock_248782489The skills gap is looming even heavier with the front of digitization, automation and AI gathering in most industries, taking over unskilled labor positions, and the skilled labor positions do not have enough applicants with the necessary skills. Solution? Reskilling employees through training.

Real Impacts of Automation

As much as 14% of the global workforce may face job changes or losses due to automation. Positions are now requiring more skilled tasks while the tasks of unskilled labor positions are taken over by automation – but let’s be clear – only 5% of jobs or positions can be fully automated while almost all jobs include tasks that can be automated. Even in the C-Suite, 25% of a CEOs job is could be automated.

These automated tasks wouldn’t decimate the labor market like many claim, simply changing jobs from unskilled positions to skilled positions. This burden of skills training will rest in the hands of employers in order to convert their current workforce to the new type of skills needed.

64% of business leaders are prepared to invest in retraining to “increase employee productivity”, not just for the social good of keeping employees employed, but it’s also a competitive edge to come out of this automation charge strong. Despite a strong ownership of this issue by corporations only 16% in this group said they were prepared to deal with this retraining and upskilling initiative.

Developing 'Human' Skills 

The most desired soft skills to develop through training that would enable employees to work side by side with automation are creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking, yet 49% of leaders said they have no plan for developing these skills. Training, whether for upskilling your employees or for continuing education, is important to the continued success of your company and reaps the benefits of:

You can plan and hire for the skills of today, but to continually meet the new skill needs of tomorrow requires a dedication to upskilling and retraining.

Experts forecast that not only will the supplement of AI and automation create more meaningful work for workers but better value for customers due to lower costs.

So how can you tailor your training to be more effective and really motivate your employees to learn?

Digital Guide: Wage and Hour Pitfalls

Creating Effective Training

Most companies already offer some level of training, but it’s another thing for employees to embrace it. We’ve all been to that boring training session of staring at a screen for an hour only to walk out the door with nothing gained.  Tips to step up your training:

Keep training relevant to what your employees do or will need to do. High level theories may be guiding your training, but that won’t connect with your employees if they can’t see how it relates to their work. The more relevant the information, the better engagement you will have in training. Always provide examples and tie it back to their day to day experience during training.

Show, don’t tell. Training soft skills can be difficult, so use various activities such as role-playing and team building to help to connect the theory of these skills with executing them. The variety is also important to help address the different ways people learn. What works for some, may not work for everyone, so be sure to include a range of formats and media to connect to your range of audience.

Keep training manageable. Take it one skill at a time or even break that skill down into smaller goals and points. Similarly, long exhausting training means it won’t stick to your employees. Short impactful training sessions will be much more valuable to your employees. Take small steps and continually reinforce them. Quality over quantity of time, and where possible small groups make big impact.

Show them the “Why”. You need to tell your employees how this training is going to benefit them. The more value they see in the training the more effort they will put into it and the better the results of your training.

Reward and recognize the skills you are trying to develop. This not only encourages employees to work harder but also gives them a model to work after – which in terms  of soft skills can be critical because it allows them to visualize the skills. Furthermore, set goals with your employees. This shows that you are invested in developing your employees. Be prepared to give and take feedback. The more feedback, the better your process will be.

Don’t leave out your leaders! Your frontline managers and supervisors need help too. Encourage mentorship, regular feedback, and leadership training for your managers as well. They will ultimately have the most direct impact on your workforce.

Let EPAY Help Manage You Human Capital

It’s no secret that your employees are your most expensive and valuable capital. With EPAY Systems Human Capital Management System you can optimize your workforce with applicant tracking, onboarding, performance management, and benefits administration. Take a two minute tour today to learn more.

About the Author

Anna Pajor, SPHR, is an Account Manager and HR Consulting Partner at EPAY System, where she works with clients on a day to day basis. Before EPAY she directed and managed in-house human resources, set up HR processes for startup companies, and developed as well as streamlined processes for clients through consulting services. She brings over 10 years of HR experience with a unique perspective gained from her work in business development to the EPAY blog.  She is excited about writing for the EPAY blog and sharing valuable information with EPAY friends and customers.

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Filed Under: Human Capital Management