Famed poet Maya Angelou once said, “If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going.”
Her powerful words prove truer than ever today as we look back at the last two years. Throughout the pandemic, businesses have faced many challenges and fought an uphill battle on several fronts – including an ongoing struggle to retain employees.
According to the TCS Tech Investment Index – a recent survey of more than 400 business leaders in Canada – since the beginning of the pandemic 31% of companies have downsized, while another 31% have had to cut wages.
Making matters worse, as virus variants spread employers must once again pivot and adapt to survive – especially as new and emerging technologies require new skill sets. In a market where the need for qualified talent is immense, executives and business leaders can benefit from establishing a culture which supports training and hiring from within.
IT Investments Require Expertise
Worldwide IT spending is expected to total $4.5 trillion in 2022, an increase of 5.5% from 2021, according to the latest forecast by Gartner.®
TCS’ Canadian respondents echoed this projection by reporting plans to increase future IT investments – and findings revealed investments in new and emerging technologies in Canada are set to increase by an average of 10% to 25% in the next year alone. Data security and cloud investments topped Canadian priorities last year, but we can expect artificial intelligence (AI) to catch up with cloud over the next two to five years. The Internet of Things (IoT) is predicted to become more widely adopted by 2024, while blockchain will remain further behind given it has fewer subject matter experts (SMEs) and uncertain commercial applications.
Despite the prevalence of these technologies, most do not consider themselves to be subject matter experts (SMEs) in key areas such as data security, cloud, AI, IoT, and blockchain. Only 24% of leaders who have not yet invested in new technologies identify as SMEs, and the number rises to 42% for those that have already begun investing. As such, it is essential for organizations to increase the technical skills and expertise of its staff, especially as technology evolves.
Reskill your Workforce to Meet Current & Future Challenges
An older model of thinking recruited employees with certain skills for specific technologies and replaced them as the technology – and therefore their skills – were phased out. Today’s leaders can instead implement a modernized approach to employee and company growth. One that supports the creation of internal SMEs by providing sufficient learning and development opportunities. One that highlights to management the value of up-to-date knowledge and evolving skill sets. One that invests in reskilling and promoting an innovation ecosystem.
In doing so, employees are likely to feel appreciated, be motivated to perform better, and stay with an organization longer – providing a significant return on investment and a greater likelihood of general company success.
In Canada, some organizations have already recognized this and are prioritizing ongoing learning and skills development. Other employers are nascent in their awareness of a disparity between the status of their current educational programs and where they need to be. Only 41% of respondents cited participating in seminars at work, 38% have had on-the-job training, and 33% have learned through self-study outside of the office.
Keep in mind that people learn differently. To bridge the gap, business leaders need to offer a variety of resources to support upskilling and knowledge refreshment across the board. Businesses should consider introducing everything from digital learning platforms to leadership training programs to ensure employees have the skills and knowledge they need to make the best business decisions possible.
On this front, TCS is using AI to make contextual course recommendations for each employee. This customized learning experience helps to retrain and retain top talent by not only giving employees the knowledge they need to excel at their current jobs, but also by promoting internal mobility. And we are seeing great success with this approach— internally cross-skilled employees account for more than 30% of fulfilment for our global growth requirements.
The next few years will likely see many more IT advancements. Companies that are committed to investing in their in-house talent along with rapidly advancing technologies are poised to jump ahead of the pack. Navigating any disruption or uncertainty will never be easy; there isn’t any one blueprint for how businesses should react. However, by continuing to prioritize reskilling talent and bringing technologies of the future to clients, Canadian businesses can continue to thrive in an increasingly competitive, post-pandemic world.
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