Taking the Next Steps for Tomorrow’s Talent

Business and education leaders came together at the Bloomberg Next Tomorrow's Talent Forum to discuss a number of timely challenges, ranging from how we can better prepare graduates for the workplace to how artificial intelligence impacts existing job roles. Workday's Leighanne Levensaler shares some ideas for next steps, including working more closely with local educational institutions, seeking diverse sources of talent, better sourcing from within the organization, and reskilling the workforce to adapt to innovation.

I recently joined a group of business and education leaders for a Bloomberg Next forum in New York that focused on how we can work together to best nurture and support our workforces in the midst of so much change.

Aptly named Tomorrow’s Talent, the forum covered a number of timely challenges, ranging from how we can better prepare graduates for the workplace, to how we can reskill current workers in the age of artificial intelligence and automation, to how businesses and educators can better collaborate.

Knowing that people are the heart of every enterprise, we at Workday are passionate about being an active participant in finding the solutions to these complex issues. That’s why we partnered closely with Bloomberg Next on the event, including a study that surveyed business and education leaders’ views on these topics and more. Not surprisingly, the findings confirm there’s a lot more work to do.

So where do we start? I shared some ideas in a blog prior to the forum. Following our insightful and inspiring discussions in New York, here are some additional ideas.

Solve Locally First

Our world faces significant challenges related to workforce development. We’d all like a systematic macro answer. The reality is that these problems are far too broad and complex to be addressed with a single universal solution. It’s best to start working locally to learn and gain momentum.

For example, are there community colleges or trade schools that offer classes that could prepare workers for an anticipated shift in skill sets? Are there local higher education feeder schools that your organization could broaden the dialogue with on how to better prepare students with both the hard and soft skills they need?

With constant innovation comes the constant change of needed skills.

At Workday, we’ve partnered with universities in our communities to have our technologists serve as guest lecturers and help students prepare for the real world. I would encourage all organizations to explore these types of opportunities, because as one participant said, “If you’re sitting still, you’re falling behind.”

Seek Out New Sources of External Talent

Businesses say they can’t find the talent they need. But could the problem stem from always returning to the same pond to fish—a pond that only has candidates with specific types of higher education degrees or job experiences? Companies need to consider whether they are practicing pedigree hiring by over-credentialing job requirements. A willingness to learn “how” is a stronger attribute than a willingness to learn “what,” especially in today’s rapidly changing world.

What’s more, pedigree hiring works against an organization’s efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce. At Workday, we’ve had great success partnering with organizations such as Year Up and Opportunity@Work to gain talent that didn’t follow the traditional path from high school to college to career, yet have proved to be incredible colleagues. We know that a diverse and inclusive workforce makes for a happier workplace and results in greater business outcomes.

Source from Within

Some of our best talent is often right under our noses, but not necessarily in positions that can utilize their full potential or provide the opportunity to grow. That’s why it’s critical to truly know your talent.

How do you do that? By regularly using technology to take inventory of your people and their skills across the organization, democratizing learning experiences so that everyone has access to them, and building a culture of mobility and opportunity. This requires being radically transparent in communicating opportunities for career growth.

Embrace the Velocity of Innovation

Our dear friend, innovation. There’s no stopping it and we don’t want to. Innovation is a great thing for all of us, but it creates challenges in workforce development. With constant innovation comes the constant change of needed skills.

The problem is, not enough companies are willing to put more skin in the game when it comes to reskilling. In the Workday and Bloomberg Next survey, half of the corporate respondents anticipate facing budget constraints when deploying a plan to address the impact of emerging technologies on the workforce. So let me ask this: If a company is willing to put time, money, and resources behind responding to innovations that impact its competitive landscape or business model, why wouldn’t it also invest in innovations that impact its workforce?

Only 30 percent of corporations and 39 percent of educators say they are collaborating to help reskill and retrain employees.

Partnerships with other organizations can help ease the burden. Jon Kaplan, vice president of training and development at Discover Financial Services, discussed how their company is using Guild Education to manage a number of aspects of its recently announced Discover College Commitment program, which provides a full tuition ride for all employees seeking to pursue a university degree online from one of three selected universities.

The program got a lot of interest from the forum audience because it’s truly unique. Consider that only 30 percent of corporations and 39 percent of educators say they are collaborating to help reskill and retrain employees, according to the survey. I’m sure we can be more innovative about how we work together to address the impact of innovation. Another idea: What about partnering with researchers at educational institutions to help define the roles of the future within various industries?

I’ll end this post with one final thought: We all need to be in the business of continuous learning. Dr. Seuss is a favorite in our household with his endless wisdom and clever turns of phrase. And, as the good doctor says, “It’s better to learn how to know than to know.”

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