• Rhiannon Keen, Director |
5 min read

What’s the first thing you do when you’re missing a skill set in your business? Many companies look outwards and seek to hire in what they’re missing. That’s the quickest fix, isn’t it? Personally, I think you should look in. Here’s why.

Firstly, there’s an obvious financial benefit. There’s a significant cost involved in recruiting a new employee. And then there’s the cost of training them up – you can’t just plug and play. Your new employee needs to learn how your business operates and how processes work. They need to adapt to your culture, make connections, discover how to get things done.

Now, let’s say you have an employee whose role is redundant due to automation. There’s a cost of letting them go, which could be significant. This is someone who already knows the ins and outs of your business. They have many of the skills you need already. Train them with the skills they and you are missing, and you can fill your skills gap more cost effectively. And you get a whole range of other benefits too – like improved employee engagement, more empowered employees with varied experiences, and retention of corporate knowledge.

Prioritising reskilling is fast becoming a necessity. See the graphic below for an idea of the impact of automation and augmentation on UK industries. The roles and skills we need are changing. For example, we’re likely to find ourselves with a surplus of people with retail skills, while an ageing population and growing mental health issues means we have a shortage of care workers. At the same time, Brexit means we can’t as easily import talent and labour from abroad. 

Identifying the skills match

Reskilling doesn’t have to mean going back to square one and starting with a blank sheet of paper. The starting point is understanding what skills your people already have. That’s easier said than done, but the good news is that, today, we have far greater access to data on current skills.

The next step is to understand what skills we’ll need in the future. We have some pretty strong clues already. We can see around us which roles are being impacted by changing consumer behaviour and the impact of the pandemic. And we can take some educated guesses about where automation will have the biggest impact. 

UK industries most impacted by automation and augmentation


UK industries most impacted by automation and augmentation - Click here for Graph

We can do even better than that if we use advanced workforce shaping tools, like Faethm. It can show us what skills a role should have and which skills are going to be most in-demand. That enables us to spot a skills match – where a role we don’t need any more has many of the skills needed in a role we do. With targeted training we could transition someone between the roles. 

From accountant to information security manager

Let’s take an example from Faethm’s data. It predicts that around a third of full-time accountant roles in the UK – that’s over 60,000 jobs – will be automated over the next decade. So, what happens to those people? They’ve developed strong skill sets and they’ve become valued members of your team. The skills modelling shows that they have a lot of the skills required to be an information security manager – a role that’s going to grow in demand. Both roles require skills in systems evaluation, complex problem solving, judgment and decision making.

Another role that’s likely to be impacted by automation is that of insurance underwriter in financial services. Faethm data suggests that more than 45% of these roles will be automated. Here, there’s a strong skills match with IT specialist managers – the transition would involve technical training in quality control and operations analysis.

This data also helps us prepare for targeted reskilling of people in roles that will change due to augmentation. Consider how manufacturing is changing with the use of data and analytics. Skills like systems analysis, social perceptiveness and operations analysis are going to remain valuable.

Defining a ‘build’ strategy

Having aggregate impact on job roles, possible roles for transition and the skills needed to make the transition happen, puts us in a stronger position to tackle skills shortages within organisations - and also across industries and regions. It puts us in a position where we can ‘build’ rather than ‘buy’ our workforces, through reskilling. And that reskilling can be ‘forwards’ and ‘backwards’.  We can determine matches for people in roles at risk. And we can see where in our existing talent pool we already have many of the skills needed to fill in-demand roles.

With the insights that advanced data modelling tools provide, we can also target learning more effectively. We can deliver training on the exact skills people need to transition to a new role, taking into account – and showing we value – those skills they already have. Consider our accountant transitioning to become an information security manager. We can look at personalised learning in programming, technology design, and troubleshooting that draws on their existing capabilities.

New approaches to learning and development are also enablers of a build strategy. Historically, learning has struggled to deliver the necessary results as it was often very time consuming. But gone are the days of year-long training and a ‘sheep dip’ approach. Now learning can be done in the flow of work. New models of digital and hybrid learning can reach hundreds of thousands of employees at the same time. And their learning journeys can be personalised, making the overall experience much more engaging.

Even before COVID-19, changes to our migration policy meant that importing talent from overseas could no longer be the first response to a skills shortage. With the pandemic and accelerated digitisation bringing with them so much change, it’s clear we need to be more inventive. Let’s not look further afield for more people who match the role. Let’s look closer to home to fill the the gaps with people who are a partial match. 

To discuss how your organisation can be better prepared for changes to job roles and required skills, feel free to reach out.