It's no secret that the world of work is changing at a breathtaking pace. Demographic shifts, the move to a more sustainable economy, the impact of AI and the fourth industrial revolution all combine to make it difficult to predict the skills that will be required for the workforce of tomorrow – but it remains essential for organisations to be agile, anticipating and building the capabilities and skills that their staff will need to operate effectively now and into the future.
In this article, we look at strategies both businesses and education providers can utilise to anticipate future skill requirements, and highlight how collaboration can lead to improved outcomes for both parties.
Forecasting from In-Demand Occupations
One of the key methods for predicting future skills requirements is to analyse in-demand occupations and the skills that employers require of workers in those roles. Publicly available data such as job listings and labour market trends offer valuable insights into the requirements of a broad range of roles, and can serve as a foundation for identifying and predicting potential shifts and trends within the employment landscape.
Organisations can monitor these trends to identify the skills that are currently in demand and extrapolate this data into future requirements; as an obvious example, the rise of data science and artificial intelligence-related job listings in recent years indicate a clear tend towards growth in these areas that will affect which skills will be in demand in the near-term future.
There are several advantages to analysing job listings in this way; the data provided by job listings not only breaks down skills into relevant categories, but also includes data that can relate the skills requirement to geographical location, occupation and time. Statistical analysis of this data allows you to build a picture of not just what skills are in demand, but when, where, and why, giving you deeper insights into the shifting needs of today’s job market that can be used to inform predictions of future needs, underpinning business’ skills strategy and helping higher education identify areas on which to focus course development.
Forecasting from Current Skills Demand
One of the best potential forecasters for the skills a business will require are, of course, their own internal strategies. A businesses’ development strategy will outline its future goals and objectives, and the development of such a strategy will provide at the very least a starting point towards identifying which skills will be required to achieve those goals – if not a detailed mapping of skills and competencies.
In the real world, however, things may not always be so simple. Many businesses may know their goals and aims, but not be as certain on the skills they will need to get there or how to build and develop those skills within their workforce. It is here that partnerships with higher education can be very beneficial, with experts from the education sector being able to provide valuable input into the development of a skills strategy, helping organisations to identify skills gaps, develop reskilling programs and create solutions that will help the business achieve success.
Soliciting Expert Input
A skills forecast needn’t exist in a vacuum. Though it is impossible to completely predict the future, there are still a range of resources available to provide valuable insight into emerging trends and required skills, from state and federal research from organisations such as the National Skills Commission, university research into both predicted trends and models of analysis, to reports from bodies such as the World Economic Forum.
By tapping into these resources, organisations can gain a more comprehensive understanding of the evolving job market, from bodies which have devoted significant resources into building accurate and actionable pictures of the future skills market, helping them refine their skills strategies and stay ahead of the curve.
Developing an Adaptable and Prepared Workforce
Anticipating future skills requirements is only part of the equation. Businesses must also invest in strategies that make their workforce adaptable and ready to react to changing demands. There are a range of ways that organisations can help prepare their workers for the challenges that come with shifting skills requirements – here are a few that should be a part of every successful work environment.
Soft skill development: Soft skills like critical thinking, communication, and adaptability are essential for a versatile workforce. It is worth offering opportunities for employees to curate and develop these skills, as they are valuable in any job role and help to promote resilience in the face of change.
Flexible Organisational Structures: To better prepare for a shifting, less predictable environment, businesses often adopt more flexible organisational structures. Promoting adaptability and cross-functional collaboration, a more open and flexible structure exposes workers to a wider range of skills and areas of operation, allowing employees to pivot into new roles and skill areas as needed.
Embedding Learning into the Flow of Work: To fully promote both the uptake of learning, and the transfer of learning into workplace results, it should not be a separate activity but an integral part of daily work. Businesses can and should encourage a culture of continuous learning. At Guroo Learning, we believe that better learning results are achieved when learning is practical, realistic, and embedded in the context of work - by integrating training opportunities, workshops, and knowledge sharing into the regular workflow, businesses can see both greater uptake and greater results from learning programs.
Higher education institutions play a crucial role in this process by offering courses and programs that align with an adaptable workforce. Collaboration between businesses and educational institutions can lead to the development of customised training programs designed to both enhance adaptability and readiness in the workforce, and to more easily integrate learning within an organisation’s flow of work.
Anticipating future skills requirements is a shared responsibility between businesses and higher education institutions. By adopting a collaborative approach, both parties can work together to understand and address the evolving needs of the job market.
In an era of constant change, this collaborative approach is the key to ensuring that both businesses and higher education institutions remain relevant and adaptive to the ever-evolving demands of the workforce.
For more information on what is driving training and professional development decisions, you can download our latest market research report, “seizing the Enterprise Education Opportunity”, available here.