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5 ways to deliver skills transformation at scale

By Team Multiverse

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  1. 1. Build a skilled talent pipeline at the entry-level
  2. 2. Upskill employees to future-proof your workforce
  3. 3. Reskill employees to take on high-growth roles
  4. 4. Offer a combination of 'soft' and 'hard' skills learning
  5. 5. Go beyond online learning with a multichannel approach
  6. Build a resilient workforce at every level

In the next two decades, 90% of jobs(opens new window) will require digital skills. Yet 87% of organizations(opens new window) currently have a skills gap or expect to have one in the next few years.

Despite the fact that 85% of senior leaders(opens new window) have been involved in two or more major transformations in the last five years, two-thirds of them have experienced at least one underperforming transformation during this time.

While traditional training and education routes all have a role to play in closing the digital skills gap, a growing body of evidence(opens new window) indicates that applied learning — where skills are embedded in real-world settings — may be more effective in driving successful and scalable skills transformation.

More employers are embracing applied learning by launching professional apprenticeships, which give employees the opportunity to gain vital skills and immediately apply them in the workplace.

Here are five proven ways to harness the power of real work experience in your transformation efforts.

1. Build a skilled talent pipeline at the entry-level

When hiring tech talent, businesses have traditionally had two choices: outsource core tasks to agencies and contractors, or increase the budget for competitive packages and external recruiters to fill in-house roles.

But what if there were a third, more sustainable option?

Companies like Citi and Box are already paving a new path forward, launching professional apprenticeships to build in-house junior talent for key data, software engineering and digital roles.

Here are some of the core benefits of building a skilled pipeline at the entry-level:

  • Improve diversity. Build a future workforce representative of the total available talent market while increasing your team’s capacity for innovation.
  • Train all new hires on your tech stack. Break team silos and build a culture of data with hands-on training on your existing tools and systems.
  • Reduce time per task and increase productivity as junior employees share the load of growing data and digital tasks.
  • Retain senior employees. With junior team members trained on real workflows, senior team members can delegate bottlenecked tasks and avoid burnout.
  • Reduce organizational spend on outsourcing, consultants and external recruitment by building future tech talent internally.

With applied learning at the entry level, you can combine certified skills training with on-the-job application and build a strong pipeline of future talent, without relying on expensive third parties.

You also help open doors for people of all backgrounds by hiring apprentices based on their potential, not the grades they got in school.

“Recruiting truly diverse talent, and bringing in people with different perspectives and a range of experiences is vital to the success of our business, but also enables us to develop future leaders and build critical skills for Citi,” says Jacqui Lloyd, Senior Vice President and Apprenticeship Lead at Citi.

Jacqui and her team are making it easier for young people to get into the banking industry by launching apprenticeships in Data, Software Engineering, Project Management and Business Administration.

2. Upskill employees to future-proof your workforce

The ability to make data-driven decisions at speed and scale is critical, yet many businesses rely on a small group of senior employees to provide key insights.

The result is chronic bottlenecks, high turnover(opens new window) among senior tech talent and missed revenue opportunities across the organization.

But 74% of employees(opens new window) say they are willing to learn new skills to remain employable in the future. Business leaders can leverage this motivation to upskill employees to help them become more effective in their current role or department.

Here are some of the top benefits of employee upskilling at scale:

  • Build a data-driven culture. With broad-scale data literacy, team members have everything they need to make informed decisions.
  • Build internal skills and confidence to efficiently process and visualize data, reducing the time it takes to manually consolidate information.
  • Create data champions at all levels. Train employees in every function to access data, ask the right questions and understand answers from central data teams.
  • Reduce reliance on external consultants to plug critical skills gaps.
  • Increase revenue opportunities via data-led insights and improved customer satisfaction.

Companies with transformation at the forefront are already offering employee upskilling at scale.

"We're always challenging ourselves at CBRE to be market leaders, and data plays a huge role in this,” says Emily Hayward, Data and Digital Transformation Manager. “Leveraging data to turn insights into impact is what keeps CBRE ahead of the curve, and the Data Fellowship apprentices are leading the way on this.”

From PowerBI, SQL and Python, 79 CBRE employees are learning new tech skills, representing all levels of seniority across a variety of business functions. By embedding data skills across their workforce, the company is placing data at the heart of its operation.

“They are helping us to build a data culture at every level of the business by learning and applying their skills and knowledge in their teams, as well as sharing insights and ideas with colleagues cross-functionally.”

3. Reskill employees to take on high-growth roles

While upskilling is teaching the additional skills required for an employee to be more effective in their current role, reskilling refers to an employee learning the new skills needed to move into a completely different role.

With a predicted 1.1 billion jobs(opens new window) to be radically transformed by technology in the next decade, employee reskilling has become a key imperative for all types of businesses.

Here are a few core value drivers reskilling can deliver:

  • Build an equitable and inclusive workforce through impactful, equitable mobility opportunities.
  • Improve employee retention by increasing meaningful growth opportunities.
  • Decrease talent-related costs by reducing hiring expenses for in-demand roles and leveraging reskilling as an alternative to expensive layoffs.
  • Reduce ramp-up times and retain company and industry knowledge by offering clear mobility opportunities as roles become redundant.

Professional apprenticeships are one of the best methods to reskill employees because training is integrated into actual day-to-day employee workflows, enabling skills to be applied and attributed to revenue opportunities more quickly.

“The world around us is changing, which is why we have to adapt as a business and make sure our people are equipped for the future,” says Jessie Burrows, Managing Director at insurance provider Direct Line Group. “Investing in customer-focused skills-based learning is fundamental to our success.”

Direct Line Group enrolled 80 team members in Customer Service, Data and Software Engineering apprenticeships to empower them to deliver better customer experiences. Over time, these apprenticeships will help the company build the industry's future leaders in-house while providing increased career growth opportunities to team members.

4. Offer a combination of 'soft' and 'hard' skills learning

Whether you’re implementing one or all of the above skills transformation methods, the right balance of soft and hard skills is crucial to your success.

In a global McKinsey survey of 25 specific skills(opens new window), more than half of companies reported a focus on leadership, critical thinking and decision-making, and project management skills. The survey also found that the share of companies addressing interpersonal and empathy skills nearly doubled from 2020 to 2021.

Unlike corporate training, professional apprenticeships allow you to:

  • Deliver a better pathway to growth by equipping employees with in-demand tech capabilities as well as project management and decision-making skills.
  • Train for both technical and interpersonal skills to help employees identify and communicate impact in an increasingly digital business environment.
  • Combine the best of theoretical and practical learning methods to empower employees to apply learned skills to real business scenarios.
  • Support learners in developing durable skills for the future via 1:1 expert coaching, peer groups, networking opportunities, and events.

While traditional training and workshops can be effective for some, classroom learning isn’t for everyone. It rarely allows for the kind of impromptu ‘soft’ skills development that comes from working through real problems in a workplace setting.

“As a technical specialist, the skills needed to succeed are not just limited to my technical ability,” says Shanie, Software Engineering apprentice at Citi. “It’s also important to work well and contribute in a team, as well as learn to problem solve and these are some of the skills I am developing in my apprenticeship.”

5. Go beyond online learning with a multichannel approach

The McKinsey survey(opens new window) also found that the training programs that combine in-person and virtual learning report a higher overall rate of success(opens new window) with skills transformations.

Although online courses and bootcamps can be effective methods for delivering specialized training quickly, the short-term nature of these programs doesn’t guarantee skills retention. Instead, research suggests that a “varied and multichannel approach” to skills building works best.

The rate of skills transformation success is higher when respondents cite a larger number of learning formats, including:

  • Digital learning to keep skills development ubiquitous and easy to access.
  • In-person workshops to help employees retain learned skills via hands-on application.
  • Individual or team assignments to combine theoretical and practical learning.
  • Peer learning teams to encourage knowledge sharing and team-based learning.
  • Expert coaching for individualized support.

Even with an enterprise-grade online learning platform, employees may struggle to remember their newly acquired skills if they are not regularly applying them in a variety of settings

Professional apprenticeship programs provide a multichannel approach that helps employees retain learned skills by offering training across a variety of learning formats, including the top five identified above in McKinsey’s global survey.

Build a resilient workforce at every level

With the right approach to developing future and existing leaders, there is a significant opportunity hidden in the digital skills gap "crisis".

At Multiverse, we partner with over 1,000 employers across the US and UK to identify the need for skills, design a program to systematically close skills gaps, and prepare your business for long-term success in an increasingly digital climate.

Book a free consultation with one of our specialists to find out how you can deliver skills transformation at scale.

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