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Beyond reskilling

Investing in resilience for uncertain futures

Although renewing workers’ skills is a tactical necessity, reskilling alone may be a strategic dead end. The skill shortage is too great and the investments of companies towards reskilling are too small. The pace of change is too rapid, quickly rendering even “successful” reskilling efforts obsolete. What is needed is a workforce development approach that considers both the dynamic nature of jobs and the equally dynamic potential of people to reinvent themselves. To do this effectively, organisations need to focus on building workers’ resilience for both the short and the long term—a focus that can allow organisations to increase their own resilience in the face of constant change and uncertainty.The social enterprise at work: Paradox as a path forward.

The South African context

Going into 2020, the South African economy has faced slow growth and credit downgrades - as well as the unprecedented burden of the COVID-19 outbreak. Unsurprisingly, the labour market has felt the pressures and we are reminded how crucial reskilling is in addressing our near future needs and also in surviving the unforeseen circumstances we may encounter in the long term. Not only should South African organisations reskill their workers, but they also need to build their resilience by equipping them with tools and strategies to embrace and adapt to a range of uncertain futures.

Current Drivers/Overall trend

Globally, organisations are finding it challenging to navigate through the fast-changing skills landscape, and this is not any different for South African organisations. According to this year’s Human Capital trends survey, 56 percent of South African respondents state that between half and all of their workforce will need to change their skills and capabilities in the next three years The need for reskilling is unsurprising as the influx of the fourth industrial revolution technologies in South Africa continue to rapidly change and shape the way in which jobs are done today, causing a constant shift in and demand of new skills and capabilities.

Although many training departments struggle to keep up with the swift change in reskilling needs, they should not expect their employees to be responsible for reskilling themselves. South African organisations need to take accountability for workforce development. This is in accordance with the view of the South African government, which states that it is the organisations’ responsibility to build capabilities of their employees for the future growth of the South African economy and its competitiveness. Developing skills and capabilities can enhance workers’ long-term employability and thereby plays a role in decreasing unemployment in South Africa.
As South African organisations experience growing pressures to develop their workforce, they are also confronted by barriers that may hinder their ability to successfully build skills and capabilities. Thirty seven percent of South African respondents have difficulty in identifying their workforce development needs and priorities.

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