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Skills Are The Backbone For Employees And Organisations To Succeed: Degreed

'Organizations can lead the way in changing the status quo and close the skills gap, by taking an integrated and continuous approach to learning and hiring for skills'

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Kelly Palmer, CLO of Degreed, and David Blake, co-founder of Degreed in their new book 'THE EXPERTISE ECONOMY' stress on the fact that skills and expertise will be the most important to stay relevant to the future of work changes.

Kelly Palmer and David Blake talk in detail about the importance of skills, learning, closing the skill gap and jobs.   

As the future of work changes, what do you think will happen to the traditional 4-year degree? Are skills more important than credentials?

If we are ever going to curb the crazy costs of degrees, we need a credential that can compete with the degree. We believe the market wants to speak the language of skills, but cannot, so it is left to speak the language of degrees. If you ask someone, “tell me about your education”, they will answer with where they went to university or what degree they have. It has been the only universal way to answer for our education. Up until now, there has never been a common language to measure skills—and in a world that’s constantly changing with the onset of digitization and automation, skills are the lynchpin that will help organizations and their employees succeed.

How can organizations lead the way in learning and close the skill gap both for their employees and for their organization at large?

The skills gap is a vicious circle: people can’t obtain quality jobs, and companies are struggling to find qualified talent with 82 percent of employers saying it’s difficult to fill positions, while 83 percent of students have no job lined up after graduation, and 62 percent of students report that the job search is ‘frustrating’ or ‘very frustrating’ (according to the dept of labour in 2016).

We need a way to tie learning activities to skill development, to track and measure progress, and benchmark skills to get an accurate snapshot of progress over time. The learning experience has become fragmented leaving employees to turn to Google for the easy answer. Learning must be consumable, centralized, accessible, relevant and available in a variety of modalities. This will empower employees to develop the skills they need to move up within an organization.

How important is lifelong learning for employees and organisations?

Lifelong learning is a great opportunity and responsibility for individuals. It used to be that information which was scarce and had to be centrally organized to be efficiently accessed. That meant we would learn a majority of what we needed to know to be successful from a few formal institutions--one or two universities & then two maybe three employers. But the world has shifted and today we are learning a majority of everything we learn in a self-directed fashion, across a diversity of sources, over the entirety of our lives. With the average tenure of a job now about 4.5 years, truly the only security one can create over a long arc, in a world of great change, is the security of being a great learner.

Why is the technological shift happening in the workplace, and why will the skills be of utmost importance?

All the companies are forced to go through a digital and technology transformation. Automation, Artificial Intelligence and the faster rate of change have converged into this larger shift that is happening right now.

This shift means companies are changing dramatically and so is the fundamental nature of work. With the work changing so dramatically, the way people need to learn either to upskill, cross-skill, or re-skill is changing too. We can no longer rely on old models of work and learning and that’s what the expertise economy is all about. We need to prepare ourselves for jobs and careers and technology that haven’t even been invented yet, so we need a new way to think about how we do that -- and that’s through skills.

Why has job search changed over the years? Why are people deviating from a conventional career path?

People are now staying at companies for an average of 4.5 years, with the younger generations staying on an average for only two years (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). If employees are not finding the opportunities at their company to learn and grow and progress in their careers, they will start looking outside their company for new opportunities.

We need to be more flexible about opportunities and career paths. We need to understand what drives and motivates people and understand what they want to do next. Managers and leaders need to ask employees what’s next in their careers and employees need to initiate the discussion. So often employees leave because that career discussion never happened.

How can universities, companies, and individuals join forces to close the skills gap?

At a time when the cost of attending college continues to rise, the ever-present question of “is it worth it?” looms. We haven’t filled the gap between what students learn in college and what they need to do to be successful in the workplace. But we can connect higher education more closely with the real needs of companies to give students a better shot at gaining the relevant skills for the job market.

Universities need to stay connected with graduates throughout their careers, and offer relevant learning opportunities to alumni, not just current students; partner with companies to build practical work experience into the curriculum and use technology to disrupt the degree and offer skills-based credentials for lifelong learning.

Organizations can help college graduates continue their learning and development on-site and retain talent by moving fast to skill the workforce by using technologies to help people build skills for a speciality area and develop talent for a whole industry, not just the company itself; and hiring for skills—not pedigree; and helping employees to stay motivated and engaged.

Individuals can take control of their own learning to build expertise and gain skills for their current roles as well as their future careers by continuously building expertise and taking ownership over their own learning; treating learning like exercise and setting aside deliberate time to learn; and finding mentors and role models who will help guide their career development.

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skills skill gap employees Degreed learning workplace