Reskilling the Workforce for the Future of Work


Emerging technologies are transformingthe world of work, and businesses need to rethink their approach towards L&Dand employee reskilling. Here we explore the future skills highlighted in ‘2020Workplace Learning Trends: The Skills of the Future’ report, and how tofuture-proof your workforce.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is reshapinghow organizations do business, engage with clients and customers, and managetheir operations. According to Gartner’sHype Cycle 2019, data analytics and AI is expected to augment employees’ efficiencyover the next decade or so, with an increasing number of organizationsdepending on emerging technologies to gain the desired competitive advantage.

The explosion of AI-enabledtechnologies has left lasting effects on almost every industry. In financealone, AIis already managing investment funds, while computers make up 35% of US’ stockmarket. However, with such rapid changes happening around us, mostbusinesses are facing challenges in terms of keeping up with the technologyitself.

Nearly 65%of business leaders feel AI is a (very) important aspect of human capital, whileonly 26%of surveyed companies feel they are ready for the proliferation of such technologies.AI, in particular, comes with the perquisite of big data. But, data alone isnot the problem. Today, organizations the world over have limitless amount ofdata, which demands efficient management, processing and analysis, in order togain actionable insights from the AI tools and solutions leveraged byorganizations. In effect, AI calls for a data-driven culture, one that issustainable in the long term.

So, given such massivetechnological disruptions, there is a pressing need for global businesses torespond effectively and focus on the future skills and talent management. Let’sexplore how organizations can rethink workplace learning in the near future.

Rethinking L&D in 2020

Although AI has been popping in andout of business solutions for the past few years, 2020 is the year AI really goesbig. Today, AI is being adopted in almost every aspect of the business,including Sales (real-time product updates, seamless information sharing),Marketing (customer behavior analysis, buying trends), HR (screenings,interviews, recruitments) and Finance (number crunching, market predictions),the list is endless.

Likewise, over the past few years,there has been a clear shift in the demand for future skills, particularly forAI and data science related skills. According to Udemy, demandfor AI and data science skills have seen rapid uptake among its learners overpast few years. Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Neural Networks (the enginebehind AI) have revolutionized the world, and can be implemented in businesssolutions across all industries.

So, based on the report ‘2020Workplace Learning Trends: The Skills of the Future’, here are the hottest skillsL&D leaders need to look at in 2020-

  • Top TechSkills 2020

Going into 2020,there is a near similar trend in terms of skills demands, where there is a hugeuptake for skills like Python, machinelearning and deep learning, along with cloud computing, webdevelopment frameworks and IT certifications like Docker (open source platform used to build softwarepackages); while some of the top emerging tech skills include quantum computing, internet things Gatsby.js, React Hooks, Next.js amongothers.

No surprise thenwhy L&D needs to prioritize these tech skills in 2020. When surveyed, 52%L&D leaders cited tech skills as most important for training at theirorganization in 2020. And, when asked about their top skills shortages, 43%L&D leaders cited software development (Python, Java script), and 35%cited AI, machine learning and neural networks and cloud computing.

  • Top SoftSkills 2020

People oftenunderestimate the value of soft skills. However, analysisof the top in-demand soft skills at work in 2020 revealed an uptake intopics such as communication, creativity, and innovation and growth mindset. L&Dleaders need to be privy about the increasing importance of adopting a growthmindset and fostering a culture of continuous learning and agility at theworkplace.

Though employeeskilling is critical, L&D leaders need to focus on building a learningculture across the organization in order to foster creativity, agility and innovation,as evidenced in the listof in-demand soft skills in 2020, and top soft skill priorities for L&Dfor 2020, including innovation (45%), change management (42%), communication& storytelling (40%), among others.

Tackling Reskilling Challenges

L&D leaders need to be not onlyaware of skills gaps but also start tackling reskilling challenges faced byorganizations today, with 39%L&D leaders citing that existing jobs are constantly being transformed byautomation and AI technology.

The trend of letting go employeesand hiring newer (skilled) employees to address the skills gaps and achieve businessgrowth is slowly beginning to crumble, given today’s highly competitive labormarkets. Organizations are slowly realizing the fact that retraining andreskilling a talented employee seems more promising than hiring from theoutside.

Agreed, reskilling calls forstrategic measures and long term investment, however, disruptive layoffs posemore problems that they solve, and the best alternative remains employee training;59%L&D leaders have already reskilled 20% of employees in 2019, with AT&Tretraining 180,000 employees for its Future Ready program. This program hashelped the company cut down on outside hire and reskilled employees to take up newroles.

Employees, on the other hand, areslowly settling into the disruptive nature of work tech, with more and moreemployees viewing automation, AI and other disruptive technologies as a welcomechange and leverage the training programs offered by their organizations tofulfill new roles. As a result, in light of the dire need for reskilling,organizations are now prioritizing L&D investments, with 35%L&D teams witnessing a rise in budgets in 2019.

Furthermore, L&D itself needs arevamp to embrace agility and welcome newer roles like learning technologymanagers, learning experience designers and social community managers in theyears to come.


With constant technologicaldisruptions and the emergence of a new digital world, L&D professionals needto take inventory and asses their capabilities to reinvent the function itselfin order to future-proof the workforce with relevant skills. Organizations needto engage newer techniques to retain, manage and develop talent (internally) tohelp leaders find relevant skills for future projects. In the coming years,L&D professionals will need to completely transform their approaches andprocesses, including redefining the learning ecosystem, leveraging technologieslike AI and ML themselves to optimize the learner experience and achieve betterlearning outcomes and maximize business impact.