Upskilling, Reskilling Necessary to Transform Human Capital
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Technology, digitalization and automation are advancing at a fast pace and continuously changing companies’ needs and talent requirements. The pandemic further accelerated the transformation of the way of working and led companies to demand new sets of skills from employees, said Santiago Gutiérrez, Vice President Mexico, Central America & Caribbean of Pearson.
“In the past, education used to stop at any given time of our lives. Currently, everyone is continuously learning, regardless of their profession or industry. Change became the constant. Hard skills, acquired through academia, have always been measured by companies, while human resources departments among companies have just begun to measure soft skills,” said Gutiérrez.
Hard skills are those talents and abilities that can be easily measured. These skills can be acquired through schooling, courses, conferences and on-the-job-training, among other resources. Soft skills, on the other hand, are hard to measure quantitively and are not particularly learnt through specific schooling. Soft skills are interpersonal abilities that help people get along with each other and collaborate in a positive environment. There are over 20 soft skills, according to Gutiérrez, but the key ones are critical thinking, collaborative work and effective communication. “These skills are crucial to transform human capital into a global resource through reskilling and upskilling,” said Gutiérrez.
Digitalization has forced employees to learn continuously to keep track with technology advances and remain relevant to their companies. New professions are emerging at a rate that the job market cannot keep pace with, making upskilling and reskilling the best alternatives for companies. “Reskilling is to re-learn and learn new abilities. If what I used to know is outdated, I need to reeducate myself in the new needs of the company. Upskilling refers to upgrading the skills that you already have,” said Gutiérrez.
Seventy percent of the workers in the customer service and sales sectors are willing to learn new abilities and skills to perform their job, according to BCG. From those, 66 percent spent more than two weeks developing skills in 2020 and 50 percent of them used an online education institution to do so. In Mexico, 27.5 percent of organizations consider that digitalization implies constant innovation and decision-making, while 35 percent of Mexican companies are training their employees to understand and use technology, according to Digital IQ.
“In the past, understanding technology was only necessary in a few areas of companies. Nowadays, every area has to learn about tech; it goes across its entire operation. The cost of technology is no longer a limitation for companies of any size; tech is already democratized,” said Gutiérrez.
The new focus on skills put critical thinking on the spotlight. This ability is not only useful for CEOs or decision-makers but also for employees at any level. “Critical thinking enables people to analyze situations, discern and then take the best possible decisions, regardless of the job title,” said Gutiérrez.
Before training their talent, companies must first evaluate it. “Human resources has to make a diagnosis, taking into account the reality of the company. Once you have the diagnosis, you are able to prioritize where to invest money and time in training, reskilling and upskilling,” said Gutiérrez.