Home > Business

Your Company Is Sleeping Through a Crisis

American workers are falling behind, and employers aren’t doing enough to help.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Our economy is sleeping through a skills crisis, and I’m here to wake you up.

You’ve likely been hitting snooze on this issue for far too long. Admittedly, the stats that support it aren’t particularly new.

But the decade we are now entering is the one we’ve been talking about for ages—a true turning point in our workforce. One where artificial intelligence will pivot from a secondary tool to a primary job function; where over 50 percent of our current workforce will require significant retraining to keep pace with technology; where the forces of change in our job market will become so strong that we’ll realize we should have cared enough to change do something over a decade ago. Researchers at Oxford University concluded that 47 percent of U.S. workers have a high probability of seeing their jobs automated over the next 20 years, while a McKinsey report predicted that up to 30 percent of “work activities” could be automated by 2030.

Related How Humans Can Compete Against Machines in the Workforce

No, none of this information is new. According to BrainStation’s 2020 Digital Skills Survey, which surveyed thousands of professionals and executives across disciplines and industries, 74 percent of companies are actively undergoing some type of digital transformation, with 92 percent of executives communicating plans to increase these activities in the future.

The problem, though, is that for many of these organizations, digital transformation is viewed as an “initiative,” or a “strategy,” or some other buzzword to simply check the boxes. Typically, it’s a mandatory Excel training or a new Chief Technology Officer hire.

However, it’s often not a commitment. It’s not a real investment with some intentionality to fuel it and people to experience it. I hear the term “digital-first” culture a lot. And I am never one to discount culture—I built my own company with culture at the core—but I want to beat the drum that culture isn’t enough to solve our impending workforce skills crisis.

Companies must have a holistic approach to talent that involves upskilling, reskilling and hiring. There are plenty of extremely valuable employees within your walls that just need a bit of investment to get the level needed to produce the business results today’s economy now requires. They will be loyal, they come with years of institutional knowledge that a new recruit would not, and training is now more cost effective than finding new hires. And regardless of a “looming” recession or not, a cost-effective, results-driven talent development program is increasingly becoming a business imperative. Learning is more of an essential layer for organizations than ever before because of the constantly changing landscape…and it’s only going to move faster.

Our most recent survey also found that 42 percent of executives report that their organizations have already implemented digital skills training initiatives, and an additional 19 percent said they planned to implement more trainings in the future.

Related The 11 Most Important Tech Cities in the U.S. tech

But I fear it’s still not enough.

Now is the time to build the right infrastructure and to invest in skills training. It’s time for business owners to wake up.

 Jason Field is the founder & CEO of BrainStation.

Related Articles