Bridging the skill gap through innovative learning solutions

As the world recovers from the pandemic, companies are becoming increasingly aware that COVID-19 is just one interruption in a world full of them. Moving forward, organizations need to be intelligent, resilient and learning, and have the ability to foresee and adapt to an ever-changing environment.

If companies can harness the agility and flexibility that their workforces have shown, they have an opportunity to reinvent themselves. The keys to success are the flexibility to adapt to new challenges and the capacity to learn — anchored by adaptive, personalized learning offerings for individuals and groups.

Due to the rate of technological change, skills acquired through traditional education quickly become obsolete. Take the current shortage of cybersecurity experts for example. Hybrid and remote work enables almost limitless employment opportunities and flexible working options for cyber experts, resulting in high employee turnover. Consequently, cybersecurity service providers are finding it difficult to recruit employees with adequate skills, which is an impediment to growth.

Cybercrime is on the rise. The number of attacks in 2021 increased by 50% compared to a year ago, with the estimated cost of of $6 trillion US. In addition to being costly, these attacks decrease customer trust. Cybercriminals are using innovative AI techniques to wage war against companies, pressuring cybersecurity companies to constantly enhance the capabilities, skills and competencies of their cyber warriors to remain ahead of the attackers. Therefore, a strong and continuous investment in cybersecurity talent becomes “sine qua non” for companies and the primary factor in determining future success.

Which skills are most needed right now?

Cybersecurity expertise is at the forefront on the battlefield and the aim is to proactively build a secure digital ecosystem by design. Investments in employee development in specific skill areas will continue, addressing increasingly critical issue of skills obsolescence. The pace of technological changes implies that many future key skills have not yet been identified, but in cybersecurity, the focus will shift to enhanced use of deep learning and artificial intelligence technologies.

Analysis of employer demand based on job postings shows the skills that are projected to grow the fastest in the next five years:

Application development security

Cloud security

Risk management

Threat intelligence

Incident response

Compliance and controls

Data privacy and security

Access management

Security strategy and governance

Health information security

These skills represent crucial infrastructure for the modern economy. Moreover, hiring challenges have led to the launch of new upskilling initiatives in 42% of companies, according to a Korn Ferry study.

However, some of the greatest digital transformation challenges are related to culture and values. The most agile and successful organizations have leaders who create a strong sense of connection and enable each part of the organization to act independently and in accordance with business needs and values. Inclusive leadership at all levels becomes a key competency, and cybersecurity awareness, prevention and practices should be part of the company’s culture.

What will help us learn better?

The creation and delivery of learning content is changing with technology as the learning process becomes more adaptive. By harnessing new technologies, we can now use large databases of user behavior to align content with current competence levels and bridge knowledge gaps to meet future work demands.

AI and ML based tools are being used to provide individualized, user-generated learning content and experience based on skill gaps, learning needs, capabilities and motivation.

Short-term trends in learning delivery show increased application of microlearning techniques, immersive learning and AR/VR tool deployment, while medium-term trends explore brain-computer interface to foster development. We will see learning solutions become increasingly tailored and adaptive to specific individual and collective requirements, empowering users to easily adapt the content and delivery method to their needs.

In order to properly establish the learning process, content and delivery, organizations must acknowledge the expectations of Generation Z, which is predicted to make up 27% of the total workforce by 2025. Born digital, directed towards responsible living and corporate social responsibility, future leaders, new inventors and rising opinion makers need learning and development to be frictionless, infused with continuous feedback, fun and practicable. They want to learn and play at the same time.

We will see a fundamental cultural shift in people management, stimulating the creation of learning organizations where traditional managers become curators of ideas for self-learning and self-enhancement. Organizations must adjust to this paradigm — with leadership and management development offerings on one side and strong CSR strategies on the other — acting for the greater good, governing responsibly and sustainably, with the future in mind.

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About the author

Mirela Sola

Global Head of Human Resources BDS Digital Security and Global Delivery Centers Head of Human Resources Atos CVC Croatia

Mirela Sola is Global Head of Human Resources for Big Data & Security – Digital Security business in Atos, responsible for building, transformation and growth of human capital of the organization through partnership with business, in the areas of Cybersecurity products and services, and Mission critical systems, as well as for HR leadership in nearshore and offshore Big Data & Security delivery capacities.

With M.A in Psychology, educated in the field of Human Resources Strategy in London Business School, certified SHRM-SCP, Mirela encompasses more than 20 years of international HR executive experiences in different industries – ICT, telco, phamaceuticals, banking.

Combining authentic care for the streamlined and systematic development of individuals and teams, with strong delivery focus, she fosters sustainable magnification of the businesses.