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Your Reskilling Initiatives Cannot be Successful without Strong Mentoring Programs

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder and CEO

“Where do you see yourself five years from now?”

Most of us have asked or have been asked this question in an interview. But with the change in the time, we need to course correct this question as well. Why? Because the speed of change has never been more pronounced and prominent than today. The forces at play, be it technology, globalization, or new demographics, have shifted the workplace dynamics in indelible ways. What is relevant today can easily become redundant tomorrow.

Globally, organizations are feeling the impact of these forces of change. Initiatives such as digital transformation have become mandatory for success. However, battling these changes in the wake of skills shortage has been an uphill battle. Technologies such as cloud, analytics, IoT, AI, and Machine Learning are transforming industries and business. But, it also brings to the front a harsh reality − that of a workforce not skilled enough to work with these technologies and the new roles they bring.

The Future of Jobs report from the World Economic Forum states that by 2020, more than a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will comprise of skills that are not yet considered crucial for the job today. Another report shows that 35% of the skills needed for jobs, regardless of the industry, will change by 2020.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers report showed that this workforce challenge is keeping 38% of CEO?s awake at night as they see this chasm as a threat to growth and sustainability.

Quite naturally, organizations are accelerating their reskilling initiatives to tide over this workforce challenge. But it is difficult to develop the workforce of the future while holding a myopic view of reskilling. Reskilling does not only happen with technical knowledge transfer. It also has to accommodate the alternations in the behavioral skills that such changes bring. And for that, you need a strong mentoring program.

Increase Leadership Acumen

Reskilling initiatives by themselves solve only a piece of the puzzle. They address only the technical aspect of the job role. For example, there are about 1.4 million open jobs in the Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence space. It is natural to assume that with the right training, these roles can be filled, and the deficit balanced out.

Focusing on just this one aspect won’t allow company workforce to develop holistically. While it is essential to identify who your high-potential employees are, it is equally important to assess other requirements to help them become forward-thinking leaders of tomorrow. This challenge can only be navigated compellingly with mentoring.

Reskill for Behavioral Skills

The focus of reskilling strategies is rather myopic at present. What are most organizations doing? Usually, the story looks like this − your company has an employee skills gap that you need to fill. For example, you need your data experts to become AI proficient. You engage the right training program to achieve this. You have an assessment at the end of the program and lo and behold; you have your new team of AI experts in place.

But pause for a while and ask, “have I really prepared my workforce for the new role?” Technically, yes! But at a deeper level, we now know that we are in an environment where innovation and improvement have to be constant. That capability comes not just from learning the ABC’s of new technology or skill. Had that been the case then all coders would have become the next Bill Gates! It comes from understanding how this change impacts the organizational dynamics, how do the market forces change, how it impacts the teams and their lives both professionally and personally, and how does it influence the business and profitability?

For this, you need guidance from an experienced hand. And this guidance can be found from mentors who have spent years battling and managing change.

Don’t Just Reskill − Reprogram

What is the objective of reskilling? It is not only to close the skill gap. It is to become future-ready, to become more able to battle competition and to increase the capacity for innovation. This should be your agenda for reskilling.

However, you also need to measure the employees? breadth of knowledge and expertise, along with their newly acquired technical depth. When this training is complemented with a mentoring program, transitioning from Point A to Point B cannot solely be achieved with a two-week learning program. The technical part of the reskilling exercise is completed with the training, but the reskilling program can only be a success when reskilling training is followed with a mentoring plan. This is only because, with mentoring, the employees will be able to navigate their career paths and adapt to the new ways of working, manage resistance, connect with team members, and optimize productivity. Mentoring reprograms the employees and helps them align their job roles with their organizational goals and identify ways of how this can benefit their career trajectory.

We have to agree that learning is one thing that has to become continuous in today’s enterprise. And real learning happens outside the classroom, where work happens. Do you agree that your reskilling programs have to leverage mentoring programs to be successful? Connect with us to learn more about NumlyEngage™ Enterprise, world’s first AI-driven Enterprise Mentoring Platform to help you develop your high-potential employees.

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