September 8, 2022

The Skills Wave Is Here

4 min read
By Khairunnisa Mohamedali PhD

Skills have become the currency of the relevance. Through the pandemic, millions have had to change ways of working, adopt new technologies, and grapple with novel challenges at work. And they’ve had to do this through intense stress, uncertainty and—for many—emotional distress. All of this required gaining new skills and deepening existing ones.

The data speaks for itself: in the wake of the pandemic, 29% of people invested in their personal development. For younger entrants to the workforce, this jumps to 40%.

This phenomenon has been dubbed “The Reskilling Revolution.” Further research on the great resignation has found that more than two-thirds of employees globally are willing to retrain entirely for new jobs. 63% of people who left a role in 2021 cited “no opportunities for advancement” as a reason. The skills wave is here. What can you do, as an employer, to catch it?

3 Ways to Ride the Skills Wave


1) Make Skills Your USP

68% of people globally are willing to move organisations and upskill to remain competitive. Don’t lose your best people; invest in them. How?

  • Define Your Proposition. We’ve written about the importance of having a clearly articulated value proposition for your development. It’s only increasing in importance. Make your proposition the hook during your attraction and recruitment processes. Then use it in every learning touchpoint you provide.
  • Invest in Internal Mobility. Many people are re-evaluating what they do at work and why. Often, this can lead to changing roles (and even industries.) In response, industry leaders are investing in internal mobility to keep skills and knowledge within their organisations, even if in a completely different role or part of the business. 36% of Learning & Development professionals helped build internal mobility programmes in their organisations in 2020. 54% of L&D professionals consider internal mobility a higher priority due to impact of the pandemic.
  • Look beyond the 9-to-5. COVID has fundamentally changed how we work. It accelerated a shift that was already brewing, away from 5-days-a-week and 9-to-5 FTEs, towards increased flexibility and employee ecosystems. Consider: are you investing in and upskilling your flexible workforce—contractors, part-timers, job-sharers, etc? Build your employer brand as a skills provider comprehensively, not only with your FTEs.


2) Reinvent the “How”

The world of work is changing, and the world of learning and development needs to catch up. How can you meet your people’s need to learn, stay relevant in the labour market, and grow in their careers? Here are three models to consider:

  • Self-Led Learning Model: Give people choice in what skills they learn, and when. More importantly, develop engaging learning materials they can use at their own pace. A number of organisations are moving toward self-lead learning. The key to success is to back your self-led learning model with behavioural and learning science, so it is relevant, engaging and sticky.
  • The Internal Gig Economy Model: Your IT department might need someone to help with particular tasks for a few hours a month. Your finance department might need support at key periods in the year. Your engineers may need a few key skills off and on. Meanwhile, someone in HR or in your product team might be looking to change things up, do something different, or just learn a new skill. Why not match demand and supply? Keep your talent engaged internally, offer them on-the-job upskilling, and meet business needs without hiring externally at higher cost.
  • Nano Learning Model: With hybrid working, people are often spending more time in meetings, responding to emails and managing seemingly increased workloads. Learning & Development, in this context, can often feel like another item on the to-do list, that takes time away from executing on one’s core role. Nano learning content is a simple solution here. This can include five-minute to 15-minute to 30-minute bites of content in various formats, from videos to interactive digital collateral. How long and what format will vary. Investigate your people’s needs and working context, to identify the best fit length and format.


3) Rethink the “What”

The skills needed to succeed constantly change. Today, leaders need to master kindness and empathy—skills that were on no one’s list for leadership training five years ago. Ensuring your skills portfolio matches your business and people skills at all times is critical for riding the current skills wave. How?

  • Keep Your Evergreen Skills Up-to-Date: Constantly evaluate your evergreen skills like communication, presenting, resilience, team work & collaboration. These are the baseline skills that will always be needed and in-demand. Make sure these are changing with the times. For example, does your resilience training include wellbeing? Does collaboration cover working in hybrid? What about virtual presenting?
  • Build Your Bank of Emerging Skills: New skills are emerging at an unprecedented pace. Unlearning. Positive Mindset. Partnering with AI. The list goes on. Beyond that, successful L&D professionals aren’t only training today’s workforce; they’re training their five- to seven-year workforce. That means anticipating emerging skills and getting ahead of the game.
  • Focus on Skills for Your High Performers: high performers are 400% more productive. In higher complexity roles, the gap can increase to up to 800%. If you want to optimise your returns from L&D training, high performers are the place to invest. Identify who they are, what they need to thrive, and then provide them with the right skills.

We eat, sleep and dream skills. Reach out if you want to talk about our favourite topic with us:


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