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Skills Improvement: Engaging our collective responsibility in the face of skill obsolescence

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If new evidence is needed, the controversies surrounding ChatGPT illustrate the accelerating speed of technological advancement. But also the resulting concerns, particularly with regard to employment.

Then the issue of efficiency comes back to the fore. Because skills that were highly sought after and acclaimed yesterday may become obsolete today. So it’s undeniable: Skill obsolescence is a hot topic in business, as it can have significant economic and social consequences, such as job losses, lower productivity and exacerbating social inequalities. In this context, skill development becomes a necessity, even if it is an emergency. This includes training individuals on technological changes to meet the new needs of the labor market.

I am firmly convinced that upskilling is an ambitious undertaking, and it is not only a matter of individual responsibility, but in fact a collective responsibility towards our society and our economy.

Upskilling, a major theme since the pandemic

The context of the pandemic will have contributed more to changing work practices than years of strategic plans. The need to learn quickly, at scale, has never been stronger. Continuing education is now a priority for companies seeking to remain competitive in an ever-changing market. And for good reason: Continuing education has been widely praised by the French, who are increasingly aware of its importance to staying competitive in the job market. Almost 90% of them believe that vocational training is effective in enriching or updating their skills (91%) and thus keeping their job in harmony (86%)[1].

This enthusiasm for continuing education is understandable, because competence is a living asset, not static and constantly evolving. Therefore, training enables employees to maintain the effectiveness of their skills throughout their career. As Fabrice Yeghayan, National Director of Development of the National Agency for Adult Vocational Training underlined very well, we have entered the era of coaching at all times of professional life. And that’s a good thing.

A standard that has become essential to nurturing the employer’s brand and managing talent shortages

Training is now an important asset when hiring, with more than 8 in 10 employees (83%) preferring to work for an employer that prioritizes training and offers opportunities for development.[2] It has also become a benchmark of choice for younger generations, such as Millennials and Generation Z.

Finally, skill development has become an “essential lever” for overcoming talent shortages, as evidenced by PWC’s “Global CEO Survey” (23H editorial). In the classic arbitration between training and hiring, coaching now takes over when hiring gets complicated. This is also the case when we want to operate within the framework of social responsibility: preserving jobs and taking advantage of the company’s culture and the skills of the people already in the company.

Training-focused companies

More and more companies understand the strategic issue of upskilling. This is why many companies like Infosys are investing heavily in training to develop digital skills at scale, targeting students and retraining adults. In 2019, Infosys launched its free platform “Infosys Springboard”, which aims to train 10 million people worldwide by 2025[3]. The program uses emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and virtual reality to deliver high-quality training at scale, drawing on players such as Coursera and Harvard Business Publishing. Infosys is also known for its “Zero Bench” program, which allows contract employees to take professional development courses. Thanks to this program, employees can stay up to date with the latest technologies and skills in the market, allowing them to quickly return to new projects.

In the face of the rapid transformation of our professions – and our society in general – the obsolescence of skills has become a major societal issue. It is up to us to drive real systemic change within companies, to profoundly change working and communication methods, and to move towards a new management and leadership paradigm.

[1] A Harris Interactive survey of skill reps

[2] A survey conducted by the Harris Interactive Institute for the Workforce Group

[3] https://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/infosys-springboard-to-offer-digital-reskilling-to-over-10-million-people-by-2025/article36248839.ece

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