By Nigel Carpenter, CEO of Sustainable Skills
Economic, social, political and technological forces are changing the shape and structure of workforces around the world. Traditional norms and roles are being challenged, pressuring organisations to adapt and diversify.
There has never been a more critical time to put adaptive and responsive workforce planning strategies into place. Industry 4.0 Megatrends, such as technology, digitalization, innovation and geopolitical shifts, are influencing the quantity and type of skills required for operations around the world. Managing these peaks and troughs of workforce demand is a key imperative for Industry, as skill requirements ebb and flow and continue to have significant impacts on productivity, safety, and efficiency. Pre-emptive and long-term solutions need to be developed to assist all stakeholders in the skills and employment cycle.
Skills have emerged as the currency of this century, leaving individuals without them unable to fully take part in society.
Particularly in areas where the skills base is low, effective development of potential workforces can benefit Industry, individuals, communities and governments. A failure to address ready access to workers or strategies for workforce development in the short term can have serious consequences for economies around the world.
Developing and enhancing human resources leads to greater foreign and domestic direct investment by creating an attractive investment climate. Market competition is increasing and regions without adequate local skills may struggle to attract and retain Industry activity. To remain competitive, countries must be able to deliver stakeholder benefits through skilling strategies aligned to government policy, community and private sector needs. A project ready, in-country labour pool will bolster an investor friendly environment and create up and downstream opportunities for local employment. Competency based skilling provides value to Industry and individuals by developing the capacity of direct and indirect sectors.
Embedding skills development programs into operational planning opens doors for greater employment opportunities for local communities and supports legacy outcomes. Collaboration between government and Industry is integral to enabling aspirant workers to develop and transfer their work entry skills to operational levels.
Opportunities can be harnessed by identifying skills and designing workforce preparedness programs for aspirant workers entering Industry
While a range of official documentation and approval processes is a fundamental part of any operational start-up, arguably one of the most important Industry requirements is its social license to operate. Often defined as an unwritten social agreement that reflects a positive relationship between local communities and operating companies, obtaining and retaining a social license to operate can be challenging. The process requires transparency, honesty and a commitment to the socioeconomic development of the host nation. Such compliance establishes employment connections and skilling opportunities with local communities and plays a key role in establishing and maintaining a social license to operate.
Established skills bases in countries looking to increase utilization of their natural resources will not only act as an investment incentive, but also provide a level of confidence to local governments enabling them to implement local content policies. Policies designed to promote the availability of local over expatriate workers allow governments and communities to benefit from business activity.
Reskilling and upskilling – key to stronger workforce
Re-skilling keeps a workforce’s skills current. It is integral to maximising productivity, safety and efficiency, and allows workforces in high-risk industries such as Resources and Infrastructure to operate in zero harm environments. Megatrends such as digitalization and automation will also force industry to adopt new skills.
Up-skilling focuses on skills development, allowing individuals to broaden their skills base and move into other positions. Progression opportunities enable individuals to advance their careers, and Industry to retain high quality talent throughout the skilling cycle.
Who benefits from skilling?
Investing in skills to build the human capital of an organisation has a multiplier effect delivering economic, social and environmental benefits to industry, communities and stakeholders.
There are four key worker stages within the training system cycle. These include:
- Entry level: new workers
- Existing workers looking to up and/or re-skill
- Aspirant workers from local communities
- Self-interest/personal development
Industry support is integral to the first three stages representing individuals engaging in skilling programs for vocational gain. These groups make up a critical component of the human capital pipeline. Pathways through skills initiatives and into employment can commence in schools or target the long term unemployed and can focus on non-traditional or underrepresented workforces such as Indigenous community members and women. Existing skills can be leveraged from nearby Industries that utilise related skills.
Pipeline building for the supply of skilled human capital is advantageous to a range of stakeholders. Direct Industry benefits come from sustainable access to verified skills for productivity and indirectly, can include the development of robust local communities and a social license to operate in potentially volatile or fragile markets.
Skilling is not always as simple as putting an individual through a training program. Foundation skills such as language literacy, numeracy and learning to learn skills, sometimes need to be integrated into broader work preparation programs to ensure individuals are supported throughout the learning process. it is paramount individuals have the skills to work safely and effectively.
Highly skilled workers form the building blocks to productive, efficient and safe Industry operations. Skills development must remain a priority to ensure sustainable access to skilled workforces in a globally competitive world.
Contact Nigel Carpenter, CEO of Sustainable Skills to find out how we can support your business.
Sustainable Skills is a not for profit industry led organisation which develops, supports and assists effective technical and vocational education and training (TVET) systems worldwide.