Why the employer-as-educator will be essential to training tomorrow’s workforce

Why the employer-as-educator will be essential to training tomorrow’s workforce
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Technology is rapidly changing the world around us. Nowhere is this more evident than at work where jobs and the skills they require are evolving on a seemingly daily basis. Advancements in analytics, artificial intelligence, and automation promise to help tomorrow’s workers get more done more quickly, freeing them up for more meaningful tasks. The problem: While today’s young workers are ready to embrace Industry 4.0, many don’t feel equipped to do so.

According to the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey, just 36% of millennials and 29% of Gen Z believe they are fully prepared with the skills and knowledge required to thrive in tomorrow’s workforce. And 10% and 8%, respectively, fear they lack the necessary skills entirely. Many of these skills are, of course, specialized technical ones such as coding and project management. But young workers say they want to brush up on their soft skills as well. These include interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, creativity, and, for Gen Z in particular, aptitude in integrity and ethics.

This focus on soft skills makes sense given where work is headed. As technology takes over and augments basic work tasks, jobs will become more service-oriented. That will put a premium on second-level skills such as adaptability, creativity, and agility, which is why young people are so invested in learning them.

The rise of the employer as an educator

But while young workers are eager to learn these skills, few say their employers offer the support and opportunities they need to do so. For example, while more than a third of millennials believe that interpersonal skills are essential to the long-term success of an organization, just 26% say that their organizations are helping them develop those skills. Overall, less than half of millennials say their employers are helping them prepare for the changes of Industry 4.0.

This is a support gap that employers must address. As tech transforms jobs faster than people can adapt, organizations have an obligation to help ensure that today’s workers and those of the future aren’t left behind. In Deloitte’s “Preparing tomorrow’s workforce for the Fourth Industrial Revolution” report, which we co-authored with Global Business Coalition for Education, we present a framework for how organizations can better address the skills gap. In the report we argue that, while companies should invest and develop workforce training programs that align with their strategic goals, it’s also important that organizations build cultures that encourage and reward upskilling and lifelong learning.

The employer-as-educator model doesn’t just benefit workers, it also pays off for employers as well. Over 70% of workers who intend to stay with their current employers for more than five years say that their organizations prioritize education and training. Put another way, employers who take education seriously won’t just build the workers of tomorrow, they’ll also retain the workers they have today.

Michele Parmelee is Deloitte’s Global Chief Talent Officer. In this role, she leads programs that enhance Deloitte’s talent experience in support of its global strategy.