The Wall Street Journal reports on a new workforce-development initiative called Skillful State Network which recently launched across 20 states, and is aimed at helping workers transform their skills for the digital age and developing paths for workers without college degrees to enter middle-skills jobs. The program helps employers rethink their hiring methods, encourages better communication between educators and employers, and has states share information that help determine how and when to retrain workers. This comes at a time when the middle-skills workforce urgently needs better training, especially as “employers, educators, and policy makers are wrestling with the question of how best to transfer workers’ current skills into digital-ready skills and then rapidly prepare them for new opportunities.” Through the program, organizations are encouraged to remove outdated requirements from job descriptions—such as years of experience or bachelor’s degrees—which would open up new talent pools for consideration. One participating organization also transformed its apprenticeship program for workers new to a field. While the best methods of helping train workers for new opportunities remain to be seen, more collaboration and shared data between employers, educators, and the government can help inform how workforce-development programs can improve.
Watch: The Greatest Asset
LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner recently sat down with The New York Times to discuss the future of work, how automation and AI may affect jobs, the importance of investing in learning and development, how LinkedIn’s data can help inform corporate training and culture, and why people remain a company’s greatest asset.
Pitfalls and Possibilities
If the assumption that artificial Intelligence can potentially increase employment by 10 percent is true, the question becomes how and where will workers learn the new digital skills needed to collaborate with and train machines? Per Lolade Fadulu’s “What Makes a Worker?” series in The Atlantic, “the debate over who—the federal government, schools, employers—should provide training to workers is decades old.” On the employer side, organizations are just beginning to see the real value of collaboration between humans and machines, and while most employers want to implement machines to help workers, they have yet to figure out how to effectively pair them up and struggle with seeing the return on investment, and thus are reluctant to offer continued worker development and training. While it is necessary to have “a strong collaboration between companies, organized labor, government, and academia to radically rethink how we are going to prepare people for the future workforce,” employer responsibility becomes even more apparent as public-sector programs struggle and the gap between the needs of the job market and traditional education persists.
First Round Review recently compiled a list of excellent reads on how managers can give “truly great feedback” with advice from leaders at organizations like Netflix, Google, Twitter, Lyft, and Slack. Former Chief Talent Officer Patty McCord, known for creating Netflix’s famous “Culture Doc”, a continuously updated set of behaviors and skills that informs the Netflix philosophy and culture, shares how Netflix invested resources in coaching their managers to practice and hone their feedback delivery skills and how this contributed to building a high-performance culture. In addition to giving regular feedback, a former Twitter and Google leader holds career conversations to help employees understand their career goals and what changes to make in order to meet them, which ultimately helped boost performance. Slack’s VP of Engineering focuses on immediate, specific feedback to help employees improve rather than resorting to using the dreaded performance improvement plan. Feedback that is consistent, frequent, and delivered well helps contribute to employee growth within a thriving, continuous culture of learning.
Up and Up
“The need to invest in people has never been more pressing. Technology is both destroying and creating jobs.” In his op-ed for The New York Times, former Coursera CEO Richard Levin makes the case for organizations to invest in human capital, following the leads of Boeing and Disney: both companies have announced new initiatives for employee education, workforce development, and training. Other companies have partnered with online learning platforms and higher education institutions to offer training to their employees: AT&T offers a low-cost master’s degree in computer science with Georgia Tech, Microsoft has edX courses that train employees in using Microsoft products, and Google and Coursera collaborated on a recently launched certification program for entry-level IT jobs. For frontline workers, Aspen Institute details three positive indicators that upskilling is increasingly becoming a priority for organizations and employers: companies including Lyft and Brinker International have started new educational programs to help develop workers, investors such as BlackRock are placing greater importance on employee development, and upskilling programs like Starbucks’ College Achievement Plan are showing positive results.
Watch: The New World of Work
From the recent HR Directors Summit: Josh Bersin speaks about the future of work and why HR professionals should embrace artificial intelligence.
LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report shares the top trends that impact workplace learning. Number one on the list: “the workforce agrees, training for soft skills is the #1 priority.” Which soft skills will be the most valuable? Fast Company lists four soft skills that will be in demand as the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning increases in the workplace.
Wanted: Master Trade Workers
In an effort to "build up a cadre of skilled people associated with the chain" and help fill skilled vacancies, Lowe's is running a new pilot program that offers $2,500 to employees who learn a master trade.