The “Reskilling Emergency” Is Real. What Should L&D Do About It?

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Do you feel you’re in a reskilling emergency? Sounds dramatic, but the World Economic Forum are not usually people who go in for hyperbole. So when they say that’s what we’re in right now, we’re minded to pay attention. What do they mean, and what does it mean for you?


What Reskilling Emergency?

In a report earlier this year, The World Economic Forum shared some very sobering statistics:

  • As jobs are transformed by technology, the world’s economies will need to reskill more than 1 billion people by 2030.
  • By 2022  – in just two years –  42% of core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change, and 133 million new jobs will be created to meet the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution
  • In addition to high-tech skills, specialized interpersonal skills will be in high demand, including skills related to sales, human resources, care and education.
  • More than 1 billion jobs, almost one-third of all jobs worldwide, are likely to be transformed by technology in the next decade, according to OECD estimates. 

There are a few ways to react to this. Shock, fear, anxiety – and then you realise that they published this report in January 2020, before the impact of COVID-19 on these projections. 

This further shock to the fundamentals of many sectors – travel, retail, health, leisure, entertainment, education, transport, and more – suggests to us that the emergency as described initially by the World Economic Forum is understated if anything. 

The new way of working, this “new normal” we find ourselves in is not just about home working and using Zoom and collaborative technology. The shift is more fundamental. It points to a new set of skills that we, and those emerging into the workforce globally, will need to adopt if we are to continue to be relevant, employable and productive. 

If you’re an optimist (we hope you are, we need you more than ever) – you can see this as an opportunity to step back and reflect on what skills will matter in the future, and what action to take now. 


Jobs – What Jobs?


Numerous surveys of the most relevant skills for 2020 and beyond exist. Here’s what the World Economic Forum predicts in terms of demand in various professions:

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Source: Jobs of Tomorrow: Mapping Opportunity in the New Economy (World Economic Forum)

As you’d expect, clusters of jobs that require technical skills feature heavily. But not exclusively – people, culture, product, sales and marketing and content roles will all grow as well, along with the care economy and green economy. 

Those are the professions that are predicted to grow and generate the most number of opportunities in the labour market. But what skills will enable people to access these jobs?


What Skills Will Matter?

To develop the skills to access these jobs, we need to think across two axes: hard and soft skills – hard skills being domain specific, soft being more human and interpersonal, and applicable in a broader set of careers and situations. 

LinkedIn’s 2020 Workplace Learning Report recently published a list of the most in-demand skills in both categories: 

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Source: LinkedIn Learning 2020 Workplace Learning Report 

While not definitive, you have to assume that LinkedIn’s data on what employers want is a pretty good signal for anyone looking to develop themselves for future employability. And it’s also a great baseline for analysing skills gaps in our teams and organisations. 

Learning Professionals recognise the scale of the upskilling and reskilling challenge ahead of us all:
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Source: LinkedIn Learning 2020 Workplace Learning Report 

There’s clearly an appetite to respond to the reskilling and upskilling challenge in L&D. What’s less clear is the right way to address it. 

Thinking Differently about Skills: The answer may not be (just) a course:

Before embarking on a major upskilling or reskilling program, it’s always a good idea to ask: What do learners want? Learner preferences for how to develop skills in the workplace are well summarised in Jane Hart’s Modern Workplace learning Survey. Each year Jane asks learners to rank a range of methods of workplace learning based on their importance:

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Source: Modern Workplace Learning Survey, 2020 


What this survey has consistently shown over the years is what Jane Hart calls ‘didactic’ methods like elearning courses and classroom events rank far lower in learners’ preferences than discovery and  discourse methods such as knowledge sharing, web search and web-based resources. 

This presents a challenge and opportunity to L&D teams. Traditionally these didactic methods have formed a large part of the L&D budget and output, but they’re among the least valued by learners. One of the reasons for this is the time required. They take time to design, create and deliver, and they take time to participate in and complete. Time is at a premium for learners, as noted in the LinkedIn report: Screenshot 2020-06-23 at 12.03.25
Source: LinkedIn Learning 2020 Workplace Learning Report 

If nearly all learners say they see the benefits of making the time to learn, but nearly half say they don’t have time to do it, there’s a need to L&D to think differently about what learning is, and how to make it easier to access and consume in the flow of work, to use Josh Bersin’s term. 

The time challenge for learners is further compounded by the fact that these skills do not stand skill. There are new insights in these areas daily. What’s the most effective way to keep yourself and your teams up to date on these, without spending a lot of time searching for insights?


Shifting your skills development mix: Curation for continuous skill development 

A content curation strategy can help L&D in planning a response to the reskilling challenge. 

Rohit Bhargava defines content curation as the act of continually finding, grouping, organising and sharing the most relevant content on a specific issue online. 

As we’ve written before, curation has become one of the core skills for learning professionals. As time and budget pressures bear down on L&D, perhaps now more than ever, learning professionals need to find new ways to keep audiences up to date with timely, relevant and useful content, thinking beyond the traditional course and event delivery channels.

The good news is that a huge amount of valuable content is freely available across the web. The less good news is that there’s a huge amount of it.  You don’t have time to look at it all. Fortunately curation tools powered by AI are here to help you. (Ours is one of them – just get in touch if you’d like to take a closer look). 

The LinkedIn Learning Report notes that AI is changing how learning is discovered and delivered, and with it, the role of the learning professional will change too. The report predicts three benefits that more personalised learning recommendations, curated and powered by AI will deliver:

1. Learners will spend more time learning

79% of learners surveyed by LinkedIn said they would spend more time engaging with content that is more personalised to their needs and interests. While time spent is not, in our view, a particularly useful metric, it is an indicator of engagement. 

2. L&D will spend less time manually curating content

As the report notes “Curating and building content is a necessary part of the job, but it can often cause L&D pros to spend too much time in the tactical weeds. As AI technologies mature and take on the lion’s share of content curation, it will also decrease the amount of time that L&D professionals spend curating and building content.”

Of course, this relies on ensuring you’re curating content in the right way, using tools that give you power over the topics and sources you wish to curate from, and curating genuinely useful and relevant content. You can see more about how we do that at Anders Pink here. 

3. L&D will have more time for strategic initiatives

If AI can help to automate a sufficient amount of the personalisation and recommendation aspects of skills development, that can free up time for L&D to work on strategic initiatives such as driving engagement and more detailed skills gap analysis. As the report notes, currently L&D spends twice as much time sourcing and building learning programmes as they do on skills analysis and driving learner engagement. This is an opportunity to flip that through using more AI-powered curation and recommendation approaches. 


Example: How One Platform Provides Personalised Skills Recommendations using Curation

At Anders Pink we partner with a wide range of learning platforms and content providers. Each of them has personalised skills recommendations on its agenda, enabling learners to make personal choices about what interests them to more effectively stay up to date. 

Here’s how one of them us using curated content to do that: 

In this learning platform, users make choices about their role, and the skills they’re looking to develop.

In the background, the platform curates content from selected sites and sources (powered by our API) to provide each learner with a personalised feed of relevant content:






In this way, learners can continuously develop their skills with recent and relevant content from around the web, alongside other programmes and courses within the platform. There’s no additional effort for learning professionals – it’s all handled via our app in the background, integrated into the platform. (If you want to do something like this in your platform, get in touch).


A Way To Accelerate Your Skills Development – Free Bundle of Skills-Focused Briefings 

To help you drive continuous, personalised skills development in your organisation, we’ve made a series of briefings (curated feeds of content) in Anders Pink aligned to the top ranked hard and soft skills from the LinkedIn Learning report. 

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These update regularly with fresh content from selected quality sites and sources from around the web, keeping you and your teams up to date on the latest development.


You can access them for free by just getting in touch with us. Drop them into your learning platform, Slack, MS Teams or wherever you want. Just one way to kickstart your reskilling programme, with less time and effort. And of course you can curate content on any topic – let us know how we can help you with that too. 

Reskilling and upskilling are going to become the bywords for L&D in 2020 and beyond – let’s ensure that as we rise to those challenges, we’re using the right tools and methods to make it personalised, dynamic and efficient for learners and L&D.