Talent shortages have become the top emerging risk organizations face globally, according to Gartner, Inc.’s latest Emerging Risks Survey. Yet, most companies are making the problem worse by overlooking the training needs of their contingent workforce.
With nearly 91 percent of companies utilizing some form of outside talent, staffing firms and their clients simply can’t afford to ignore the development of this vital segment of the workforce.
Moreover, making a commitment to upskilling not only boosts engagement, it creates a strong employer brand that attracts high-quality candidates. Plus research suggests that upskilling a loyal and capable contractor, who meshes well with their team, requires a much smaller investment than hiring and training a new worker.
The good news is there is still plenty of time to set your program up for success in the coming year. Here are four steps that staffing clients and their partners can take to incorporate an upskilling strategy into their contingent workforce program.
Holistic Workforce Planning is Essential
Businesses must adopt strategic workforce planning to anticipate and forecast their current and future hiring needs, assess employees’ existing abilities, identify skill gaps and figure out a plan to fill them.
However, with external workers comprising 30 percent of the US workforce, broadening your definition of “talent” to include contingent workers is the best way to future-proof your workforce for the digital era and proactively manage talent flow.
Once you’ve determined the types of skills, knowledge and expertise that workers will need over the next six to 12 months, develop profiles to help you select candidates from your full-time staff and extended workforce who could succeed in new roles by expanding their current skillset.
Define Your Talent Philosophy
A talent philosophy provides the “rules of the road” for how a company manages and invests in its employees to achieve the business strategy. In this case, having a clear philosophy will help you identify and engage suitable candidates for upskilling, prioritize training schedules and maximize investments.
For example, Accenture found that training has to have an immediate payoff to be effective. So, they created a philosophy and skills pipeline to make sure that workers can implement their newly acquired skills right away.
Based on Accenture’s experience, upskilling technical contractors that you expect to transition to regular status or training computer science interns on the latest techniques in artificial intelligence and machine learning might offer the best results and ROI.
Create a Collaborative Training Program
The next step is to create a training framework that will serve as a guide for your upskilling program. It should define the training style and methods for each category of skills as well as the specific outcomes and timeline and who is responsible for providing what.
For example, will your staffing partners arrange classroom or online training from qualified providers followed by coaching from the company’s line managers? Will subject matter experts and supervisors play an essential role in developing the curriculum? Will participants receive a certificate, or should they be required to pass a certification exam, if one exists?
Each partner needs to understand their specific roles and responsibilities because effective execution of an upskilling strategy requires a great deal of thought, planning and coordinated effort.
Commit to the Vision and Improve
Delivering a successful upskilling initiative requires commitment from all partners, investment and follow-through. So, if a staffing firm commits to training 30 professionals over the next six months, then the client needs to be willing to offer every trained worker a project or temporary assignment. Both parties can use the results of the pilot to learn, improve and create a scalable and effective upskilling model.
By 2030, 75 million to 375 million global workers may need to switch occupational categories and learn new skills, according to McKinsey Global Institute’s report.
Upskilling your entire workforce will be key to ensuring that workers – regardless of status– maintain viable careers and that businesses have access to the talent they need to fuel growth and thrive.