Currents Events are Increasing the Need for Upskilling

Emerging technologies were already disrupting job roles and the skills required to perform them. The coronavirus pandemic has only accelerated the need to upskill employees, as companies realize they are only as resilient as their workforce is. Executing an upskilling strategy now can help your organization not only recover in the near-term, but also adapt to modified business models and ensure long-term success.

  1. Start with skills gaps brought to light during the crisis
    • A 2017 McKinsey report found:
      • 375 million workers—or 14% of the global workforce—would have to switch occupations or acquire new skills by 2030 because of automation and artificial intelligence
      • 87% of executives said they were experiencing skill gaps in the workforce or expected them within a few years. But less than 50% had a clear sense of how to address the problem 3

    • A recent McKinsey survey found a correlation between organizations already executing an upskilling strategy prior to the pandemic, and a workforce that can adapt to changing roles as a result
      • Of organizations recently surveyed, only 9% were successful in adapting  while almost 47% were not prepared at all 2

  2. Identify skills critical to new or revised business models, to adapt to the new “normal”
    • Start with skills that were already seen as critical. They will continue to be.
      • Digital knowledge: The working remote model calls for more tech awareness as we’re required to do more on our own
      •  Data literacy: Fluency in areas such as data analytics continues to be a growing need in most departments
      • Cognitive: Critical thinking, problem solving, and creative/innovation skills are always in demand. More so now
      • Emotional: Leadership skills to drive and support change, & motivate a remote workforce
      • Adaptability: Self- awareness, confidence, reliance

  3. Close skills gaps with tailored learning journeys.
    • There is a need to create learning journeys tailored to the skills required to execute key activities
      • Companies are reimagining/revamping their business/operating models. How do they bring the workforce along?
      • Leaders need to understand the skills required, as they identify the core activities they will undertake over next 12 to 18 months, making strategic workforce planning essential

Now is not the time to reduce learning budgets, but rather to invest in your workforce. According to Statista, changes in training expenditures in the wake of the Great Recession showed expenditures failing sharply, followed by a surge. This means companies that choose to cut their learning budgets are only delaying their investment, with no net savings. 4 And, the skills gaps caused by current events will be even larger than in 2009, causing those companies to only fall farther behind the ones that choose to invest in their people now.

Reach out to RPS

Let our learning experts help you assess your workforce skills gap. We can develop and implement an upskilling strategy that will deliver real impact for your organization and your learners. Contact us today! Learn by visiting us at

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1 McKinsey. (May 7, 2020.) Article, To emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, companies should start reskilling their workforces now. Retrieved from;

2 McKinsey. (February 2020.) Report, Beyond hiring: How companies are reskilling to address talent gaps. Retrieved from,

3 McKinsey. (November 2020.) Report, Jobs lost, jobs gained: What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages. Retrieved from,

4 Statista. (May 4, 2020.) Retrieved from,