Building a ‘future-ready workforce’ will be crucial as we emerge from the pandemic, says Deloitte Canada

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Building a ‘future-ready workforce’ will be crucial as we emerge from the pandemic

  • Three-quarters (74%) of organizations say reskilling their workforce is important or very important to their success over the next 12–18 months
  • However, only 17% of organizations believe they’re able to anticipate the skills their workforce will require and only 16% expect to make significant investments in learning over the next three years
  • To thrive post-pandemic, organizations need to address the skills gap while also focusing on helping employees develop their enduring capabilities like teamwork, critical thinking and resilience

 

Toronto – April 21, 2021 – The global pandemic has pushed the pace of change within workplaces into overdrive and has heightened anxieties about how to prepare for the future of work. Released today, Deloitte’s Future ready workforce report focuses on how organizations can unleash workers’ potential by equipping them with the skills and enduring capabilities needed to flex, stretch, and evolve to meet challenges now and in the future.

Front and centre in the findings is that traditional training, like post-secondary education, is no longer sufficient to meet the pace of change in today’s workplaces. To stay current, employers need to constantly be investing in upskilling and reskilling their people or risk falling behind their competition. This means prioritizing learning that’s immediately applicable and available in real time, when and where it’s needed. And while many employers recognize this reality, few are acting on it.

According to a recent Deloitte survey, three-quarters (74%) of organizations say reskilling their workforce is important or very important to their success over the next 12–18 months. While just over half (53%) say that between half to all their workforce will need to change their skills and capabilities in the next three years. Companies and workers alike recognize that work will never be the same again, and that continually upgrading skills and capabilities is essential.

Organizations will bear the responsibility for upgrading the skills and capabilities of their workers. In fact, 73% of survey respondents feel organizations are primarily responsible for workforce development. However, too many organizations don’t know how or where to start and feel ill-equipped to reimagine the skills needed to meet the business’s future needs. Only 17% of organizations believe they’re able to anticipate the skills their workforce will require to any great extent, and only 16% expect to make significant investments in learning over the next three years.

“Canadian companies need to step up and disrupt as we navigate the post-pandemic world of work or risk being left behind on the world stage,” says Kathy Woods, National Workforce Transformation Leader at Deloitte Canada.  “For some, this may be looking at how your company approaches the work and where employees need to be based – can you offer flexible working arrangements post pandemic? Does your talent pool need to be city-specific or can you draw from talent pools across the entire country?  Every company needs to proactively re-examine how the nature of their work has changed and make the necessary investments to make sure their workforce has the necessary skills and tools to thrive. ”

Deloitte’s report outlines the key characteristics of a future-ready workforce:

  • A hybrid workforce comprising humans and machines - as technology automates tasks formerly done by humans, organizations need to rethink the purpose of all its roles. These redefined roles may require very different sets of skills and capabilities.
  • A sustainable workforce able to meet today’s challenges and adapt to tomorrow’s - by breaking down work to the task level, organizations can use analytics to test scenarios and inform decisions at a granular level, thereby better shaping what work gets done, by whom or what, and where.
  • A workforce that’s always learning in the flow of work - the future-ready workforce is rooted in a culture of continual, lifelong learning that is embedded and integrated into the flow of work itself. It’s learning that’s immediately applicable and available in real time, when and where it’s needed. This is in contrast from traditional, classroom-based learning we have used for so long.
  • A workforce built on enduring capabilities first - skills are becoming less central to creating the type of value that differentiates an organization and enables it to build lasting relationships with its customers. In a world that requires more skills that are refreshed more often, those skills become less important than the enduring human capabilities that enable workers to learn, apply, and adapt them. The enduring capabilities of a future ready workforce include imagination, empathy, curiosity, resilience, creativity, teaming, and critical thinking.

“The skills that workers need for any given job changes too quickly for traditional organizational learning strategies to be effective,” says Woods. Noting the critical need to prioritize teaching enduring human capabilities like teaming, problem solving, curiosity, and empathy. “It’s these human capabilities that will allow organizations and employees to sense and respond to change and to rapidly learn the skills needed at that moment to continue moving forward and thrive in this environment of relentless disruption.

The Future ready workforce report also provides a four-part framework that outlines the actions an organization can take to meet this challenge and build a future-ready workforce. These steps include workforce planning and analytics, identifying future skills and capabilities, modernizing the workplace learning strategy and placing learning in the flow of work.

“If the pandemic experience has taught us anything, it’s that our businesses and our people are more resilient than we ever thought,” Woods concludes. “It’s time to prioritize learning to learn and humanizing our work so that our workforces are adaptable and ready to take on any challenge.  If we don’t act now, we will fall behind making post-pandemic business recovery all the more challenging.”

For more information and to view Deloitte's Future ready workforce report, visit: Future ready workforce report

About Deloitte
Deloitte provides audit and assurance, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax, and related services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. Deloitte serves four out of five Fortune Global 500® companies through a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries and territories bringing world-class capabilities, insights, and service to address clients’ most complex business challenges. Deloitte LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership, is the Canadian member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see www.deloitte.com/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and its member firms.

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