As odd as it might seem, corporations are just now tackling the complex problem of “reskilling” their employees.

Prior to the labor market’s tightening, employees whose skills became obsolete could be replaced by new hires who possessed the right set of updated skills.  Today, however, employers are facing the challenge of mapping the skill sets of current employees in order to determine how to proceed with upgrading those skills to fit in with the future directions of the company.  It’s been a challenging effort, often leaving the employer behind the curve with too little time to retrain to the needed levels.  And, in many specialized areas – for example, cloud computing and cybersecurity which are jobs that require technical skills along with creativity, interpersonal skills, adaptability and the capacity to continue learning – it can be a very lengthy and expensive proposition.  Thus, it’s a given that all companies are trying to get better at the large task of reskilling.  has mapped out a program that will allow workers to rise from “warehouses to data centers, doubling their earnings along the way.”  Fulfillment-center employees currently working in the Amazon warehouses can undergo a 16-week certification program to become data technicians, and, if successful, will move from a $15/hour salary to $30/hour.  JPMorgan Chase, who employees 250,000 employees is initiating a program called “skills passport,” which has thus far been in operation in the bank’s IT department.  The program allows IT workers to take assessments that measure their current skills and then view career options that provide a “curated list of activities and training that they can take,”  (ref. WSJ).  The bank has also pledged $600 million from its philanthropy arm to offer similar processes for non-employees.  At AT&T, 180,000 employees have participated in its “Future Ready” programs where workers assess their skills. then go through short-term training programs for nanodegrees of a year’s duration.  They are also offered the option to pursue master’s degrees in fields like computer science offered in partnership with Georgia Tech and the University of Notre Dame.  Workers do the coursework on their own time, with the company paying for the educational processes.  Employees are assisted in making educational decisions by being shown which jobs are in high demand, the projected salary and its projected growth rate.  The company reports that “Future Ready” has assisted them in avoiding a lot of external hiring in recent years and that they’ve”moved people across groups in really dramatic fashion.”  There is still a tendency in the corporate world, however,  to cling to the notion of simply getting rid of people whose skill sets are no longer needed, without a full realization that bringing in fresh talent can be an expensive process, as well as the billions of dollars of restructuring costs in paying out those who are being laid off.  A recent survey of 1,200 corporate executives shows that nearly half say that skill shortages are a major concern for the future of their firm, while only 3% indicate that they will significantly increase their training budgets over the next 3 years.  Other countries appear to be more alert to the need for reskilling of workers, providing an annual allowance for approved career training.  It’s been suggested that there would be an advantage in an app that allowed workers to look at jobs that are adjacent to their skillset or role and then offered better, related jobs where the worker could be apprised of the short-term training needed to acquire the new position.  It’s said that successful reskilling relies on training that is kept short enough and achievable so that workers learn real skills and both employer and worker get a return on their investment.  Walmart is using robots to take over some of the mundane tasks that humans have been doing so that they can upskill employees to provide better customer service.  A number of good ideas are being tried at the present time – there’s a short time-span available, however, for getting them operational and functional.


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