The World Economic Forum (WEF) projects the new division of labor between humans, machines and algorithms could create 97 million new roles by 2025. Although this figure is a signal of opportunity, it also means companies could find themselves in skills debt and unable to staff open positions if they don’t properly reskill their workforces.

The need for new skills in the employment market is clear. But the historic paradigm of corporate learning — one-and-done programs designed to meet an immediate skill need — won’t be enough to keep up with the current pace of change. Skill needs shift rapidly, spurred by constantly evolving technology. If companies don’t future-proof their reskilling strategies for continuous learning, they risk depleting their workforces and creating massive amounts of skills debt.

To get ahead of this coming disruption, organizations need to embrace microlearning, a new model for employee development focused on strategic, bite-sized learning content. Combined with a data-driven approach, microlearning enables companies to revamp their learning programs and bolster their workforces for the future.

Knowledge Gaps in Needed Skills and the Effects of Mass Employee Exodus

Although most organizations likely know they need to reskill their workforces, knowing the exact skills they need is a different story. One survey found that 40% of human resources (HR) professionals don’t know which skills they currently have within their own companies.

Additionally, pinpointing skills gaps may require organizations to map needed skills to thousands or even tens of thousands of jobs, depending on company size. This process typically requires manual review by leaders and HR and learning and development (L&D) teams, which consumes both time and resources. And by the time the review concludes and learning programs are built out, the identified skills may already be obsolete.

In addition to looming skills gaps, companies are grappling with The Great Resignation — the ongoing exodus of workers occurring at previously unseen rates. This movement has been rightly tied to employees’ desire for increased pay and improved work-life balance, but it’s also connected to the need for more skills training.

Fast Track Reskilling

Today’s employers sit at the crossroads of a critical decision: Remain stagnant or reskill for the future. But antiquated programming like one-off seminars, off-site training and traditional classroom learning doesn’t equip organizations to keep pace with the rapidly changing skills needs of both the current and future workforce.

By restructuring corporate learning programs under a microlearning model that enables employees to move through short online courses at their own pace, you can get a head start on the coming skills gap disruption and fill a training void for today’s workers.

Here are a few tips to help you implement a microlearning model at your organization:

  1. Leverage data analytics and machine learning to determine skill needs. With the help of advanced technology, you can eliminate manual reviews for mapping necessary skills. Data analytics, and machine learning (ML) tools can transform this process by analyzing people data sets from your company to standardize job roles across the entire organization and map the exact skills needed. These technologies save time, remove ambiguity from the mapping process and lay the foundation for microlearning in your revamped training programs. Consider using a people analytics platform that includes data analytics, AI and ML to surface skills needs in your organization.
  2. Align business goals with skills gaps. After standardizing job roles and mapping skills gaps, use this data to prepare for your organization’s growth. With all skill needs outlined, you can determine which needs can be addressed by automating related tasks and which ones require employee training. The data can also help you chart the skills your company will need as it grows, as well as the intermediate roles certain individuals can fill to meet their career goals and drive your business forward. And when it comes to training, data can show you how microlearning can be leveraged to help employees in entry-level and junior positions progress into more senior, highly skilled positions.  
  3. Reshape employee performance reviews. Align microlearning with career paths to restructure employee performance reviews. Instead of viewing employee performance as a review, approach it as a personalized career coaching session. By knowing exact skill gaps and needs, you can match employees’ career interests and big-picture business goals with career pathing data. This data can help outline how your employees can advance to the next level or chart a new path through reskilling. When employees can see their potential future clearly laid out, they will feel more motivated and can pace their own reskilling through microlearning sessions.
  4. Prioritize soft skills. While you may uncover hard skills needs like coding or programming in your mapping, soft skills can’t be forgotten. Even as technology like AI performs more rote tasks and automation is incorporated into everyday workloads, there will still be an increasing need for soft skills among your workforce as hybrid and remote models of working continue to grow in popularity.
  5. Document the snowball effect of microlearning. With a unified view of organizational data, everyone in your company can see the measurable impact of microlearning programs. For example, the ability to see employees’ progression through microlearning can be directly tied to results such as productivity, revenue generation and customer satisfaction. Documenting the snowball effect of microlearning into real-world outcomes helps secure leadership support for microlearning programs and guide employees in their reskilling paths.

Chart a New Path for Employees

If there’s one thing The Great Resignation has shown us, it’s that workers want organizations to demonstrate they care. Higher wages and work-life balance are — and should be — at the forefront of the conversation.

But there’s also an opportunity to show workers you care by investing in their futures. By taking the steps to implement a microlearning model, you can ensure your company and workforce is ready no matter what skills are needed to succeed tomorrow.