Skills that go, culture that remains. The "reskilling journey" according to Bip


Skills that go, culture that remains. The "reskilling journey" according to Bip

May 5, 2020


  • Alessia Canfarini


Credits: Jan Kallwejt Illustration

“There are no brave ones, but only people who accept to go arm in arm with their fear”. While in these days we remember Luis Sepulveda, it comes to our mind his vision of the world, which was romantic and disillusioned at the same time, between fragments of normality and the illusion of a "new normality" that heralds to be different.

There is the temptation to give in to pessimism. If we look to the future of work, in the pre-Covid scenario the dominant perspective was the one of automation and the loss of millions of human jobs to make room in our workplaces for androids and robots.

Fortunately, there are numbers, the scent of optimism, even in view of the new normal. Because if it is true that artificial intelligence is changing the connotations of future workforce by erasing jobs forever, it is also true that so many – indeed, even more – will be born, all with human traction. Those that will require creativity, sense-making and human touch in relationships. McKinsey's study presents this cross-industry trend. Those professions and those companies that are able to move on the two tracks of simplification and customization, solid legs of a strategy of relationship continuous improvement, will resist.

But to be a leader is to understand that behind a great customer experience there is always a great employee experience.

In times of future workforce, "experience" means the ability to focus. Resources, skills, practices to activate the "ambidextrous brain" of the organization, the one that can advance in present and future times in a constant exercise of "forward-looking" to prepare the most effective reskilling strategy to achieve medium-to-long term business objectives. Because results and skills, enabled for organizational agility, are faces of the same coin. Especially in the generalized disruption that all industries, none excluded, have suffered in the last 36-48 months.

Unprecedent disruption” as McKinsey defines it, both for speed and scale, driven in large part by exponential progress in data generation, computational power, and connectivity.

Credits: Microsoft Industry Blogs

And if we talk about disruption, we can't help but consider its impacts on both technology and the market. In the case of technological adoption, similar phenomena have seen the light in the past. But the substantial difference was in the stability of the market. Today, its instability is a common trait in all business models and the mantra "innovate or die" comes under the double pressure of an ever-increasing curve of consumer expectations and rapid technological obsolescence.

Flexibility, security, regulatory compliance, quality of service and customization were and are the main challenges. Business challenges that have their counterpart in the organizational configuration and, more specifically, in rethinking the skills’ model: introducing, modifying, eliminating, empowering skills to effectively guide a transition designed to leave an imprint of the mark of evolution towards the new normal.

In the new normal, the technological leverage alone cannot be enough to redesign new behaviors inside and outside the organization. The reskilling of many industries must necessarily hold two aspects together: the one of implementation and the one of assimilation. Implementation that goes with artificial intelligence, analytics and automated processes. Assimilation that passes for the "learning to learn" that you need to put into practice all over the organization. Everyone, no one excluded.

It is from this stage of awareness that the reskilling projects of the corporate clients’ workforce that Bip supports, thanks to the expertise of its Human Capital Centre of Excellence, combined with the vertical experience of industry gained within the Business Areas, take shape.

A people strategy that looks to the near future to go back to the present and identify insourcing, outsourcing e hiring tactics to make the organization's set of skills more agile and responsive to meet business challenges. All this from actions of change and the impacts that they will have in the short to medium term on the working groups and on the skills that today represent the added value on the market and outline new skillset priorities.

Functional reskilling paths, whose mantra resides in the "Learn-Do-Repeat". Learn new skills, experiment with them and then incorporate them into your daily professional routine. It starts with an upstream analysis of the "as is" to measure the qualitative and quantitative impacts on FTEs and the requirements for new professionalism with respect to strategic actions of change, organizational area and job (phase 1 of mapping). A "three-dimensional" view of the organization by which we define, for each profession involved in the process of change, current and future professional profiles, skills at risk of obsolescence and those not yet present in the organization to be quickly integrated to increase awareness and competitiveness (phase 2 of embedding).

Credits: Jan Kallwejt Illustration

A reskilling journey is not just a matter of FTEs as defined in the reflections of Ravin Jesuthasan and John W. Boudreau in "Reinventing Jobs: A 4-Step Approach for Applying Automation to Work". Feeling part of an evolutionary path is the added value of our projects.

New ways of working without betraying your values, new skills that respect the pace and the learning methods of everyone. The sentiment analysis, which is typical of each of our reskilling projects, leads us to project it into a higher dimension. The goal of the "learning organization", a body in which to create and iterate learning and development paths for the current role and for potential ones, requires moving towards a phase 3. The "Living", or the involvement and empowerment of individual employees in being part of a bigger game that facing together is the only way to win. Participatory design strategy and communication roadmap as enablers of the reskilling strategy make a difference in terms of engagement.

The "reskilling journey" is more of a marathon for our customers than a run. And a marathon requires tenacity, perseverance, knowing how to look at every step forward without forgetting the previous ones as accumulated capital of knowledge, practices, values, behaviors. And if you don't go back, it's useful to draw together the horizon of the organization's Future Skills on which to converge to feel part of a system that evolves towards a shared idea of "future of meaning". Only then we can look at the world from different perspectives from that of automability in which the machine, in the end, will prevail over the man. The real challenge is for us in the "augmented employability", a model of augmented employability that in the mix of culture and technology, observation and innovation, iteration and reflection finds its best expression.

The numbers of reskilling

  • 75 million: these are the jobs that will disappear in the coming years due to automation and technological integration

  • Half: these are the basic skills that will completely change

  • 133 million: these are the new jobs created by the transformation

The balance is positive but there is one element to be considered when it comes to reskilling: the mismatch of skills. It means that the skills of those who are working now are less and less aligned with the demands of the labor market dominated more and more by algorithms, artificial intelligence and soft skills.

In Italy the mismatch is among the highest ones in the OECD area, both by excess and by default. A situation generated by the lack of alignment between the training system and the production system: the skills are there, but they are not those requested by the market, generating a direct impact on growth.

[Source: OECD, WEF]

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