Reskilling with leadership agility: the path to the future

Reskilling with leadership agility: the path to the future

Your people need more than just training to do new jobs, they need a mindset that treasures learning

Research conducted by McKinsey found that between 75 million and 375 million people — that is 3% to 14% of the global workforce — could be forced to change their job category by 2030.

When you consider the daunting percentage of workers facing displacement from technological disruption, you must be asking yourself: What is the best way to navigate your workforce through the future ahead of you?

One obvious solution would be to pay a huge price to acquire future technologies. 

However, there is another option. Instead of spending all your organisation’s revenues on technology, you can opt for a strategy that not only reduces your future expenses but also helps your current workforce remain employed: reskilling. Let’s look into four ways you can prepare your workforce for the future:

1. Build a learning environment

When Deloitte asked 2,000 business leaders globally about the biggest workforce challenge, they said it was the mismatch of current skill sets with what will be needed in the future.

Companies such as AT&T have already started working on reskilling. It has invested US$1 billion in a multi-year reskilling programme with more than half of its workforce completing courses related to high-demand skills of the future including data science, cybersecurity and agile project management.

Reskilling is not just about learning one specific skill. As much as it is about developing a skill that solves the need for a particular task, it is about fostering a mindset that promotes a community dedicated to learning any type of skill the future might require. 

You need to create a culture that not only rewards the completion of a learning course, but also appreciates the journey of learning new skills and celebrates the process of growth, and doesn’t just wait for the final results.

2. Put empathy at the centre of your work culture

Reskilling is about your people, not you. It is not just about training your current workforce to become better at what they are currently doing or what you want them to do, it’s more about what they need to learn to succeed in future. 

You need to equip your workforce with the tools for overall personal and professional development to help them thrive in whatever role they may end up filling in the future. To understand employees’ current and future needs, you might need to restructure and realign your organisational policies, work culture and processes to promote empathy at the core of your culture.

When Nokia had to lay off 18,000 employees, it introduced the Bridge programme, which features grants, training and job-search support. It enabled 60% of departing employees to find a new job even after they left the company. 

One of the most important traits  that you as a leader might need in future is a vision based on empathy.

3. Be open to flexible talent and skills

Millennials are mostly self-leaders who like to have autonomy. You need to build a system that incorporates flexibility so that different learning and working styles can grow within your organisation.

General Electric is hiring a lot of freelancers through its GeniusLink programme, which has enabled it to complete more than 100 projects 50% faster than it wold have had it used traditional hiring methods. GeniusLink connects a global network of freelance experts and helps them collaborate to drive speed and productivity for teams and customers.

You need to identify the best way to adjust your organisational structure and management style to allow flexibility of work.

4. Treat your current workforce as your primary asset

From reskilling current employees to hiring new experts, you need to have the perfect blend of different ways to succeed in your journey toward digital transformation.

You need to appreciate the loyalty and contribution of existing employees as much as you reward the new hires for their fresh perspective and ideas. Balancing these two levels of experience and expertise can help your organisation achieve the best from both groups.

The future workforce is the responsibility of leaders, and the biggest leadership challenge on your way toward the automated future is not technology but organisational agility. The future can be a big opportunity or a threat to your organisation, depending on your vision and agility.

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at or Experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at

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