Event Report: The Future of Reskilling – Content Mobile Talks, Barcelona, November 2019

December 18, 2019

One of the most important HR and talent issues facing leaders in business, HR, education, and governmental institutions across the globe is the issue of the ongoing and persistent “skills gap” – the challenge of current and prospective employees not possessing the updated skills needed and that organizations require today and moving forward. These skills or capability gaps as some prefer to call them, are largely caused by the rapid advances in technology across almost all industries and the subsequent disruption this causes to strategy, organization, talent supply and demand, and the ability for organizations to respond to fast-moving and evolving markets.

In a nutshell, most organizations and employees have not been able to adapt quickly enough to ensure that they have the necessary skills needed making development and “reskilling” emerge as one of the critical issues that HR and talent leaders will continue to have to wrestle with in 2020. And this is not just a USA issue, although the challenge is especially acute here, as it’s also augmented by 50-year lows in unemployment, generally lower than expected labor force participation rates, and the inability of many organizations to simply find workers in this tight market. But the reskilling challenge and opportunity for HR and organizational leaders is emerging almost everywhere – the US, Europe, Asia, and more. The key question: What can and should HR leaders, business leaders, educational institutions, and government agencies do to better prepare their people for the new skills and capabilities needed for the future? And what can individuals do to help themselves be ready for the new digital era?

In November I was able to attend an event on the reskilling topic and to present a keynote titled “The Future of Reskilling: Updating Talent for the Digital Era” at the Content Mobile Talks event in Barcelona, Spain. This event was organized by Mobile World Capital Barcelona, best known in the USA as the organization behind the annual Mobile World Congress, one of the largest tech conferences held annually anywhere in the world. The Content Mobile Talks events are designed to Mobile Talks allow attendees to reflect on the challenges of the digital transformation in a less formal space to exchange knowledge and experiences about it these transformations.

At the event, I shared some ideas about the reskilling challenge and opportunity, drawing on data and research from the World Economic Forum, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, SHRM, and more to try and set the context in which HR leaders and organizations are operating within, and then how to begin to approach the reskilling challenge in their organizations. Primarily, developing a better understanding of current workforce and candidate market skills and capabilities and then comparing that to the skills and capabilities needed by the organization to execute on the defined business strategies is the first step HR leaders have to take when thinking about reskilling programs.

Then talent pipelines have to be strengthened or even developed from scratch to communicate and rationalize how these needed skills and capabilities will be delivered to the organization. This may involve a collection of sources and partners – contractors, consultants, outsourcers, local and regional educational institutions, government agencies as well as internal-facing retraining and reskilling investment.

Finally, organizational structure and culture may need to adapt and transform as well. The organization may need to adapt to embrace new models of working and new types of work arrangements, the culture of the organization may need to become more open and transparent, and a culture of continuous learning and exploration will have to be embraced. In short, wide-ranging and comprehensive approaches to planning, training, development, and deployment of resources will be needed to ensure that HR leaders continue to support and supply the business with the people and capabilities needed today and in the future.

Additionally at the event, I was able to participate in a panel discussion on how specific companies and organizations are tackling the reskilling issues. This panel was moderated by journalist and broadcaster Pipo Serrano, and featured HR and workforce development experts from Spain –  Adrià Baqués García from Ironhack, Laura Carnicero of SEAT, and Silvia Ciurana Casanovas of CaixaBank. These experts shared how their innovative approaches to development and preparing their workforces and organizations for the digital jobs of the future are driving successful outcomes for people and for the business.

The reskilling issue and topic will be a major focus in 2020 and one I will be spending more time on, speaking and presenting about, and featuring at HR Tech in 2020. Thanks again to the great people at Mobile World Capital Barcelona for inviting me to speak in November.

A couple of resources for additional information on the Content Mobile Talks event:

Content Mobile Talks Website

The Future of Reskilling speakers and backgrounds

Interview with Steve on Reskilling on el Periodico (Barcelona)

World Economic Forum Reskilling Research

Highlight Video from the event:

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