By MARÍA BALBÁS
IN TIMES of economic uncertainty, the challenge of the moment is to stay ahead of the digital transformation curve and tackle skills gaps.
Business leaders need to recognise the importance of long-term talent-development strategies as they strive to keep up with digitalisation — and the resultant shifts in customer demand.
PwC reports that 40 percent of CEOs believe their teams are lagging behind business objectives. Suitable training programmes keep businesses competitive, address demand, and safeguard future growth.
Allowing talent pipelines to grow or shrink according to the peaks and troughs of the wider economy and business cycles can put an enterprise at the mercy of unpredictable markets. Leaders should aim for a culture of learning and development, with robust and targeted internal upskilling programmes.
Employees with regular opportunities to expand their digital skills report feeling that their personal development is aligned with that of the business. A culture of learning can create an agile and adaptable workforce, and reduce reliance on external talent.
It starts with top-down action — leaders allocating resources to reflect an ongoing commitment to professional development of their staff. This is especially true in a wider economic slowdown, when employee confidence may be low.
As businesses streamline operations to brace for economic headwinds, upskilling programmes must be cost-efficient to strike the right balance. Thorough audits of existing and needed skills will help to target investment. Some key areas should be prioritised in these audits: emerging technologies that align with the company’s digital transformation roadmap (Cloud, AI, IoT), and cybersecurity skills. It’s also important to take stock of leadership and empathy skills.
Talent-management tools can keep training programmes on target, and ensure that employees’ progress is in line with wider business goals.
Economic turbulence can brew into a storm for under-prepared businesses. Those that prioritise skills development and invest in talent pipelines are likely to emerge from trying times not just surviving, but thriving.
María Balbás is president at Elev8