COVID-19 Workforce Challenges & Tips

Using this time to upskill your people

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, many organisations and employees have been left wondering: what practical measures can be taken to safeguard their business and employment now and for the future? Throughout the current situation it is clear that some down time or disruption to normal operating activity has occurred, leaving gaps of time for employees which can be better utilised. 

Prior to the ongoing crisis, CEOs had been telling us for some time that one of their biggest concerns is the availability of skills within their organisation, whether digital skills, data skills or human skills. The world is going through a technological revolution which will still be present, if not accelerated, once the current pandemic has subsided. This is leading to increasing disparity, disrupting jobs and businesses, and threatening the stability of our institutions. Upskilling yourself and your people is therefore a business critical initiative which could be focused on during any downtime or lapses in business productivity. 

While it is understandable to question investing in upskilling while simultaneously trying to reduce costs, there are many ways to leverage internal resources to develop content and deliver training. Even if financial investment is necessary, upskilling should not be viewed as an additional cost, but as an investment in building the human capital element of your balance sheet and preparing yourself and your organisation for the future of work. 

In this article we will lay out some tips for the workforce and their leaders to use downtime for upskilling, so as to prepare for the challenges of tomorrow, today.

1 - Analyse the situation and define your upskilling priorities

Upskilling efforts are unique to your organisation and how far along you may be, if at all, within your digital transformation journey. What types of skills are necessary for your organisation: technical skills, digital acumen or soft skills? Base your priorities on those roles that will be most affected by changes you are implementing or planning to implement, the adoption of new technologies, those employees most at risk and the area of the organisation that has most to gain. You may have urgent upskilling needs for those employees needing to change roles or ways of working, and others which are more long term, necessitated by any diversification you are anticipating being needed in the future, particularly post COVID-19. 

2 - Assess and advise individual employees

Digital transformation and upskilling requirements can take people outside of their comfort zone. This is expected and is a part of the required growth process. Personal coaching and advice are critical components in supporting your people, through sharing a clear vision and dealing with any concerns. Each participant should have an individual skills development plan, which clearly outlines the training needed to meet the new or future job requirements. This can only be successful if the participants are empowered with their own development plan and in charge of their process. 

3 - Empower employees to take control of their upskilling actions

In order to reap the full potential of upskilling, employees must not only rely on their organisation to offer training opportunities, but they must be empowered to take on individual initiatives of their own. During these unprecedented times which we find ourselves in, every individual person must think of innovative ways to support themselves and their organisation, while business leaders focus their attention on business continuity. Employees can therefore take advantage of online resources to execute their development requirements and ensure that they have the skills required for the future, whilst also enhancing their level of employability.

Employees can also be encouraged to apply for funding schemes that are available for individuals to make use of. These include the Get Qualified Scheme and Training Pays Scheme which offer financial reimbursements and tax credits for individuals’ training and development needs across different learning levels. 

4 - Take advantage of available funding schemes

Selecting the appropriate resources and training providers can add significant quality, value and efficiency to the training experience. When choosing providers, if not able to source these internally, be explicit in communicating the purpose and objectives of the upskilling initiative. The specific skills that need to be developed need to be clearly defined so as to align your business objectives with the upskilling requirements. Funding schemes targeted to the organisation, either in tax credit or cash reimbursements are available for organisations to make use of. These include the Skills Development Scheme and Investing in Skills offered by Malta Enterprise and Jobsplus respectively.

They cover a wide array of costs, including consultancy costs for developing the training programme and training costs per trainee. These schemes are also applicable for e-learns and virtual learning. Should you wish to learn more about these schemes, speak to our PwC Academy 

5 - Gather data on upskilling efforts and monitor results

Digital HR tools can help keep track of activity and results, such as who attends which programme and what specific training each person is receiving, even if this is individually driven. Individual employees can be used as role models, and help in communicating with groups through informal meetings and online platforms. The performance metrics should be monitored on a regular basis and benefits realised used to showcase progress, while those areas which are still requiring attention are being carefully monitored and follow ups put in place.

We can help

Should you require any assistance in addressing any workforce challenges during these difficult times please contact us.

Contact us

Michel Ganado

Michel Ganado

Digital Services Leader, PwC Malta

Tel: +356 2564 7091

Claudine Attard

Claudine Attard

Director, Advisory, PwC Malta

Tel: +356 2564 7026

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