Equipping your workforce with skills to adapt and thrive

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Equipping workforces with the skills to adapt and thrive is crucial to ensure no one is left behind argues Catherine Schlieben, HR Director for Talent and Leadership at National Grid, a member of Business in the Community’s (BITC) Employment & Skills Leadership Team and Chair of the Future Skills and Good Work Taskforce.

Even before COVID-19, the world of work was transforming, and individuals were facing uncertainty within job roles and sectors. The rise of automation and artificial intelligence is predicted to affect 35% of jobs roles over the coming 10-15 years, particularly lower-paid jobs¹. So, as we all work to deliver a much-needed response to the current crisis, we also need to be mindful of how we build a recovery that ensures that no one is left behind. 

Central to this is ensuring that the current workforce have the skills they need to not only survive but thrive. At National Grid, we believe that all our employees should be equipped with a core set of essential skills and are currently preparing to embed the Skills Builder Universal Framework across our own set of competencies.

As we all work to deliver a much-needed response to the current crisis, we also need to be mindful of how we build a recovery that ensures that no one is left behind.

Catherine Schlieben, HR Director for Talent and Leadership at National Grid

As employers we need to play our part in embedding a culture of lifelong learning and not see the development of these skills as something that is confined to early careers and pre-employment. BITC research in 2019 (a BITC and YouGov survey conducted in October 2019) shows that through investing in these skills, employees felt their confidence and productivity improved as did their working relationships. Surely business benefits all of us, if we are looking to achieve now and into the future.

This drive to ensure access to the development of skills as a universal and lifelong offer is one of the reasons I agreed to Chair BITC’s Future Skills and Good Work Taskforce. The Taskforce is committed to ensuring that we build an inclusive workforce where the future and current employees are equipped with the skills they need to gain and sustain good quality jobs.  

This has never been more important, as 30% of lowest earners have lost their job or been furloughed, compared to 10% of highest earners². If we are to build back responsibly, we need to ensure inclusion is at the heart of this and essential skills are a part of us delivering on that aspiration.

What are essential skills?

Essential skills are the skills we all need to thrive in education, work and life. They are highly transferable skills like communication, problem solving and teamwork that are needed for almost any job³. They are not innate, can be developed throughout our lives and can’t be automated ⁴.

We recognise the eight essential skills as outlined in the Skills Builder Universal Framework; listening, speaking, problem solving, creativity, staying positive, aiming high, leadership and teamwork.

To find out more about what you can do to embed essential skills in your learning and development programmes join me and Elizabeth Foote, Associate Partner McKinsey & Company on 17 March for a webinar  where we will cover just this.

DRIVE YOUR RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS FORWARD

References
¹ The Royal Society (2017) The age of automation: Artificial Intelligence, robotics, and the future of low-skilled work
² Resolution Foundation (May 2020) https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/publications/the-effects-of-the-coronavirus-crisis-on-workers/
³ Ravenscroft, T and Baker L (2019) Towards a Universal Framework for Essential Skills
Bakhshi, H., Downing, J.M., Osborne, M.A. & Schneider, P. (2017) The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030, London: Pearson and Nesta

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