Blog post

3 trends triggering the reskilling revolution

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4 minutes

Organisations are increasingly retraining their employees to provide them with the skill sets to support future growth. Reskilling is now the hottest topic in talent management.

Interest in reskilling is noticeably increasing. It was the second hottest topic in the recent L&D Global Sentiment Survey 2024 and has become a key focus for the HR leaders Spotted Zebra works with. 

The interest is no fad. Google Trends data reveals that queries about reskilling have been rising robustly over the past five years.

Reskilling Trend

So, what’s driving this interest? 

“A few years ago, few were talking about talent mobility,” Josh Bersin has noted.

“Today, roles are shifting quickly, skills become obsolete faster than ever, and organisations must find people for new roles or projects rapidly. At the same time, employees expect to try new work, learn adjacent skills, work with new managers and teams, and take international assignments.”

Let’s look at the 3 biggest factors driving reskilling’s rise. 

#1 Skills shortages

The ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage survey revealed that 77% of organisations worldwide can’t find the skilled talent they need. Only 10 years ago, this figure sat at 35%, demonstrating how dramatically the problem has escalated. 

Skills shortages threaten to undermine growth strategies and commercial performance, and they represent an existential danger for many organisations. 75% of those polled for PwC's 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey stated that finding the right skills threatened their business.

With skills shortages driving up competition for talent, the ability to adapt and reskill employees into high-priority new roles is a vital response to the skills crisis. 72% of organisations surveyed by Deloitte reported that reskilling will be one of the most critical factors in navigating future disruption.

“The global skills shortage crisis is leaving 1,000s of roles unfilled,” adds Nick Shaw, Co-Founder of Spotted Zebra. “From talking to some of the world’s leading companies, we know they can’t simply buy in skills anymore. They are struggling and there are roles they can’t hire in key locations. That leads to a desire to look at whether they have the skills internally that they could upskill or reskill into their growth roles.”

#2 Changing skill requirements

50% of HR leaders believe that technology will transform job roles at their organisations, requiring new skills. 

According to McKinsey research, 25% of roles will be disrupted in the next 5 years, with those in financial services, high tech, and telecom particularly susceptible. 

These changes are exacerbating skills shortages. The demand for AI skills, for instance, is very high - but the talent pool is limited. Deloitte reveals that 68% of early AI adopters report a moderate-to-extreme skills gap, while 27% describe their AI skills gap as "major" or "extreme". 

While new roles are emerging, technology is automating others out of existence. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has predicted that automation will eliminate 14% of the world's jobs by 2040

Given these extreme shifts in labour and skills requirements, reskilling has an obvious appeal. Reskilling enables businesses to retain loyal, capable employees by moving staff from declining to high-growth roles. 

Not only are these employees a proven fit for the organisational culture, but their pre-existing institutional knowledge enables them, on average, to outperform new hires for the first two years in a role, according to study findings

It’s a compelling solution for high-demand roles. Vodafone has pledged to fill 40% of its software developer needs with reskilled employees. Elsewhere, engineering and technology company Bosch has committed €1bn to reskill employees in high-growth roles such as AI. 

“Organisations facing gaps in the skills present and the skills needed to meet the changing needs of their businesses have three choices: reskill their existing team members; hire people with skills they need; or a combination,” says James McKenna, speaker, learning consultant, and author of Upskill, Reskill, Thrive. “I'd suggest the latter, with a mix that leans more heavily in the direction of reskilling vs buying talent.  

“Reskilling has many advantages, like investing in people's development tends to positively affect loyalty and retention, lowering the cost of fulfilling empty positions. It also helps attract talent as it's more appealing to go to an organisation with a reputation for developing folks in-house vs one that seems to use and discard people when needs change. That latter point helps with bringing in new talent.” 

#3 Employees want to reskill

Changing skill requirements will create new opportunities. Estimates suggest that as many as 375 million workers globally might have to change occupations in the next decade to support companies' changing needs.

The good news is that evidence indicates that workers are highly receptive to reskilling. BCG research suggests that two-thirds of workers are aware of the coming disruption in their fields and are willing to reskill to remain employed. 

“The latest Spotted Zebra research shows that 61% of employees feel they have skills that they could contribute to other roles within their organisations,” says Nick Shaw. “Employees are telling employers that they could do more.”

How do you go about implementing reskilling in your organisation? Download our handy guide here:

Ready to chat to an expert? Let’s book you in for a reskilling workshop today!