HR Management & Compliance, Learning & Development

Upskilling Isn’t Going Anywhere, as Long as You Get It Right

More than anything and like never before, the difference between business success and failure is having a growth mind-set vs. a fixed one. The pandemic crystalized this, giving us the best example of Carol Dweck’s theory of motivation in action. Companies that reacted and shifted their businesses quickly were able to better respond to the changing climate, while those that remained static and unwilling to adapt were left behind.

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Where does that leave us for the years ahead? What role does the skills gap play in this next age of digital operations, and how will it be filled?

After all, the war for talent existed pre-pandemic and will continue well afterward.

Digital Transformation’s Track Record

What history tells us from companies that embraced digital much earlier than 2020 is that digital transformation is a journey that, according to McKinsey estimates, 70% of organizations fail to complete.

Why is digital transformation so elusive? Experts unanimously agree that it’s a talent problem, hence the focus on upskilling. In Deloitte’s 2020 Global Human Capital Trends report, 53% of respondents shared that between half and all of their workforce would need to change their skills and capabilities in the next 3 years.

The problem is that upskilling alone isn’t sustainable, as technology innovation will continue to accelerate at a dizzying pace in the years to come and teaching people to code isn’t quick enough.

The Tech Skills Gap That Doesn’t End

Some software skills can also have a painfully short shelf life. Hinging our success on access to a continuously shrinking pool of IT talent is like fighting a battle that most companies will never win.

The value of the most competitive tech talent is contingent upon their knowledge of the new and now. Instead of asking technology talent to continuously adapt to what’s next, we should be asking more of our non-IT talent and of our technology solutions themselves. Here’s why.

We equate a digital environment with one that moves quickly, anticipates trends, and shifts in real time to meet ever-changing business and customer needs. The promise of digital operations is speed and simplicity. Delivering on that requires business users to have basic digital skills and access to solutions that are intuitive and built for all employees, not just technologists, to navigate.

Digitally Transformed: Upskilled Talent and Upgraded Tech

Back to Dweck’s theory. Do you see your people as they are today, or do you see them as continuously evolving and changing forces that have the ability to drive your business in new ways over time?

Companies with a fixed mind-set have looked outside their own workforces to step up their digital game. A Gartner TalentNeuron study analyzed job postings from 2015–2020 and saw a stark increase in digital skills like artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation, and data analytics for positions outside of IT itself and across other areas of their businesses.

A growth mind-set take on the problem is to upskill existing employees, but that solution goes hand in hand with the adoption of no-code technology platforms—software that can be customized with a low amount or no amount of programming knowledge. Gartner forecasts that 75% of large enterprises will use at least four low-code development tools by 2024 and that low code will make up more than 65% of application development.

The rise of this technology calls on HR and training leaders to partner with their IT teams to ensure employees are equipped to use the tools, assisting with upskilling.

With basic digital skills and low-cost training and support, business users, called citizen developers, can take technology into their own hands. This is a critical requirement for success, delivering on the speed and simplicity benefits of digital operations.

The future of work—that is, human and digital workforces coming together in perfect, highly efficient harmony—has long been without a clear path to execution. But through a combination of upskilling existing talent throughout the business and adopting technology solutions that are built with non-IT users in mind, it is possible to execute on a digital strategy that creates differentiating operations with a high-performing staff.

Sean Chou is the CEO & Cofounder of Catalytic, a no-code workflow automation platform.

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