The six factors for leaders to encourage upskilling

To ease labour woes and win the talent war, employers need to rethink how they approach hiring in order to attract and retain great talent.
By: | January 17, 2024

To overcome the talent shortage and tight labour market that many organisations are facing, employers need to rethink their limited focus on using educational achievement and previous experience as proxies for the skills they require in hiring.

This was one of the findings from the recent World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Putting Skills First report, written by the WEF and supported by PWC. The report focuses on the widening skills gap appearing in local labour marketing and how organisations can curb its extent by upskilling and re-skilling. This is imperative, as six in 10 businesses say skills gaps in the local labour market are impeding their business transformation, and more than half (58%) of employees surveyed believe the skills their job requires will change significantly in the next five years.

A ‘skills-first’ approach to talent recruitment and development – which looks at whether someone has the right skills and competencies for a particular role, rather than how they’ve acquired those skills – is one way of bridging skills gaps and easing labour shortages.

The WEF report identifies six key learnings from lighthouse organisations that can help boost the skills-first approach for leadership: sponsorship from leadership to lead by example for other employees and subordinates to learn from; aligning it with business needs to encourage more employees to take on the challenge; leading with effective communication so that all parties are clear about the objectives of learning new skills and its boost in people’s careers; collecting data and evaluation for iteration so that leaders can analyse and use as a way to learn; leveraging technology for scale with the help of accessible technology and tools for all employees; and leadership from governments and the education sector to incentivise organisations to push for re-skilling and upskilling their employees.

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Adopting these approaches, said the WEF report, can complement traditional systems, address talent needs in our economies, and invest in the future workforce.