Re-skilling workforce in challenging times

Investment in human capital will be increasingly critical for economies to capitalise on the next wave of growth and ensure continued creation of employment opportunities.

Organisational restructuring in the post-recessionary period will create new growth areas, requiring our workforce to re-skill and upgrade to develop deeper and more complex skill sets. The best career strategy a person can follow in this environment is to grow with his or her job. You may view yourself as a valued employee but if your skills and contributions remain at a plateau over the years, then your job may be one most likely to be jettisoned in the next downturn.

For companies, workforce skill development means looking at ways to attract and retain skilled staff. While skill retention is key, the bigger challenge lies in re-skilling your employees on an ongoing basis. Up-skilling and re-skilling is crucial to ensure adaptability and effectiveness in uncertain times. So how do we re-skill our workforce?

Two old adages - “It’s never too late” and “Nothing lasts forever” - effectively sum up the situation: It’s time organisations realised the importance of activating the knowledge sharing process from individuals to those below them in the succession chain. Employment longevity is no longer an attribute in the average person’s work history.

With no dearth of opportunities, today’s employee is open to taking risks and moving frequently in the quest for professional success. Through re-skilling, companies can ensure that they have people in the wings ready to fill positions that open up.  Training and mentoring are some of the most effective ways to ensure that this succession plan is in place.

A mentor helps employees develop new skills and improve existing ones. Mentoring involves coaching, listening, advising, and maintaining a relationship - generally with an employee who is less experienced than the mentor. While the organisation provides the required structure and resources, it is imperative that the employee also shows initiative and drive during the process.

Understanding what the job entails and being open to growth ideas from peers and seniors helps both the individual and the organisation.

In his oft-cited article, “Managing Oneself”, management guru, Peter Drucker, states: “One should waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence. It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence. And yet most people concentrate on making incompetent performers into mediocre ones. Energy, resources, and time should go instead to making a competent person into a star performer.”

Whatever your role in a business environment, always endeavor to tap into the knowledge base of people who have walked the walk. Don't miss out on opportunities for professional growth and advancement.

In today’s competitive business environment, companies have to learn to operate under a talent crunch. This means utilising their existing human capital to the fullest extent possible and leveraging the knowledge base within the organisation through learning and skills enhancement programmes implemented across the board.

(The writer is VP – Human Resources Teleradiology Solutions)

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