Building a future-ready workforce is crucial

Three-quarters (74 per cent) of organizations say reskilling their workforce is important or very important to their success over the next 12–18 months, according to a new report released Wednesday by Deloitte.

But the Future ready workforce report also said only 17 per cent of organizations believe they’re able to anticipate the skills their workforce will require and only 16 per cent expect to make significant investments in learning over the next three years.

To thrive post-pandemic, organizations need to address the skills gap while also focusing on helping employees develop their enduring capabilities like teamwork, critical thinking and resilience, said the report.

“Canadian companies need to step up and disrupt as we navigate the post-pandemic world of work or risk being left behind on the world stage,” said Kathy Woods, National Workforce Transformation Leader at Deloitte Canada. “For some, this may be looking at how your company approaches the work and where employees need to be based – can you offer flexible working arrangements post pandemic? Does your talent pool need to be city-specific or can you draw from talent pools across the entire country?  

“Every company needs to proactively re-examine how the nature of their work has changed and make the necessary investments to make sure their workforce has the necessary skills and tools to thrive.”

Front and centre in the findings is that traditional training, like post-secondary education, is no longer sufficient to meet the pace of change in today’s workplaces, said the report, adding that to stay current, employers need to constantly be investing in upskilling and reskilling their people or risk falling behind their competition. 

“This means prioritizing learning that’s immediately applicable and available in real time, when and where it’s needed. And while many employers recognize this reality, few are acting on it.”

Deloitte’s report outlines the key characteristics of a future-ready workforce:

–  A hybrid workforce comprising humans and machines – as technology automates tasks formerly done by humans, organizations need to rethink the purpose of all its roles. These redefined roles may require very different sets of skills and capabilities.


–  A sustainable workforce able to meet today’s challenges and adapt to tomorrow’s – by breaking down work to the task level, organizations can use analytics to test scenarios and inform decisions at a granular level, thereby better shaping what work gets done, by whom or what, and where.


–  A workforce that’s always learning in the flow of work – the future-ready workforce is rooted in a culture of continual, lifelong learning that is embedded and integrated into the flow of work itself. It’s learning that’s immediately applicable and available in real time, when and where it’s needed. This is in contrast from traditional, classroom-based learning we have used for so long.


–  A workforce built on enduring capabilities first – skills are becoming less central to creating the type of value that differentiates an organization and enables it to build lasting relationships with its customers. In a world that requires more skills that are refreshed more often, those skills become less important than the enduring human capabilities that enable workers to learn, apply, and adapt them. The enduring capabilities of a future ready workforce include imagination, empathy, curiosity, resilience, creativity, teaming, and critical thinking.

“The skills that workers need for any given job changes too quickly for traditional organizational learning strategies to be effective,” said Woods. Noting the critical need to prioritize teaching enduring human capabilities like teaming, problem solving, curiosity, and empathy. “It’s these human capabilities that will allow organizations and employees to sense and respond to change and to rapidly learn the skills needed at that moment to continue moving forward and thrive in this environment of relentless disruption.”  

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