Upskilling and Reskilling Talent in the Age of AI

Two factors have changed things in recent times. The first is that we are coming out of three years of COVID, during which there has been significant turmoil and changes in the workforce. The second is the advent of generative artificial intelligence, which burst onto the scene massively just a year ago with the arrival of Chat GPT.

In this article, we will explore together the concepts of upskilling and reskilling, and how these practices can help you thrive in this era of technological transformation.

First, I will start by broadly defining the difference between Artificial Intelligence and Generative Artificial Intelligence. Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to computer systems that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence; it has been around for years, with algorithms in social media, Netflix, Siri, Alexa, chatbots, and other solutions. On the other hand, Generative Artificial Intelligence (Generative AI) is a subfield of AI that focuses on creating original content, such as text, images, and music, imitating human creativity. Some examples include chat GPT, Google’s Bard, Dall-E, Midjourney, and many others that have proliferated in recent months.

The International Data Corporation (IDC) reports that 38% of CEOs and executives in Latin America plan to invest in generative AI in the remaining part of 2023. Likewise, it is stated that generative AI in business processes and operations will increase productivity by 18% in the coming years.

The impact of generative AI alone could automate nearly 10% of tasks in the U.S. economy. This affects all spectrums of jobs. It is much more concentrated in lower-wage jobs, those earning less than $38,000 annually. According to the latest report from the consulting firm McKinsey, those with this annual salary have a 14 times greater chance of losing their job or needing to transition to another occupation than those with higher salaries, for example, above $58,000.

Upskilling: Cultivating Success in Your Career

“Upskilling” is a term that refers to the process of acquiring new skills or improving existing skills of employees to better prepare them for the challenges and changing demands in the workplace. Here are some elements I have gathered from working with various clients in Latin America:

Identifying Skill Needs: Start by assessing your organization’s skill needs. This is a crucial step and will help you understand which skills are essential for your company in the era of Generative AI.

Offering Personalized Training: Once you have identified these needs, it is essential to offer relevant and personalized training. Use AI technology to tailor training to the individual needs of your employees. This will increase the effectiveness of the upskilling process and ensure that your employees acquire the necessary skills effectively. One solution we recently implemented for a client is a bot that combines the company’s training information and courses with Chat GPT. This bot allows employees to access relevant information for their development 24/7. For example, a user can interact with the bot by asking, “How to provide effective feedback to my team while incorporating the company’s values?” In response, our solution is trained to combine the company’s values and principles with the feedback style the company wants its leaders to use, providing an answer that helps the user better prepare for that feedback.

Promoting a Culture of Continuous Learning: Organizational culture plays a vital role in the success of upskilling. Encourage your employees to embrace continuous learning and celebrate their achievements. Recognize the effort and commitment of those seeking to improve their skills. Create an environment where training is seen as an investment in the company’s future. The growth mindset described by Carol Dweck in her book “Mindset” will be a fundamental part of the company’s DNA.

However, it is crucial to understand that simply making a variety of online learning content available, as offered by platforms like LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, or Udemy, is no longer sufficient. This is where generative AI can be especially relevant. Implement AI-based course tracking and recommendation systems that not only offer a wide range of learning resources but also interact proactively with each employee.

With a simple prompt or instruction, AI can ask individual employees questions to understand their career goals and specific interests. With this information, it can provide highly personalized course recommendations that align with each individual’s professional aspirations. Additionally, AI can track learning progress and provide regular reminders and updates, ensuring that skills development is consistent and effective.

In summary, generative AI not only allows for a vast amount of learning content but also facilitates a more interactive and personalized approach to upskilling, leading employees toward more effective and focused professional development.

Reskilling: Adaptation for Success

Personally, the past year has been a profound period of reskilling for me. With a fundamentally soft skills-oriented mindset, I have delved deeply into the technical space of generative AI. This has allowed me to expand the scope of my solutions and help my clients in ways I never imagined. “Reskilling” refers to the process of acquiring new skills or retraining employees in skills different from those they currently possess. This is done to adapt to changes in the industry, technology, or labor demands, especially in an environment where automation and technological evolution are transforming job roles. Reskilling enables individuals and organizations to prepare for new job opportunities and stay relevant in a constantly changing job market. Here are some paths you can chart in your company:

a) Assessing Emerging Opportunities: Identifying emerging opportunities is essential for successful reskilling. Stay informed about industry trends and opportunities arising due to Generative AI. This will allow you to redirect your staff toward areas of growth and demand.

b) Facilitating Transition and Support: We know that the reskilling process can be challenging, but it is essential for long-term success. Provide the necessary support to your employees during the transition. This may include mentoring programs, access to online learning resources, and dedicated time for acquiring new skills. Investing in your staff’s development will benefit your company in the future. Currently, we have developed a “Virtual Mentor” to provide real-time feedback to call center executives about improvement opportunities in each of their prospect calls. After closing a call, the virtual mentor solicits feedback and can provide insights about the customer’s emotions, products offered or that could have been offered, and the effectiveness and politeness of the interaction. This solution is configured with the company’s performance manual and sales skills to make the virtual mentor’s recommendations increasingly accurate. This not only supports existing employees but also accelerates the adaptation curve for newcomers.

Fostering an Adaptation Mindset: An adaptation mindset is key in reskilling. Encourage your employees to see changes as opportunities rather than threats. Foster curiosity and a willingness to learn new things. This will not only benefit your company but also create more resilient and committed employees.

To wrap up, I’d like to share three lessons and myths I’ve observed being debunked in companies willing to stay ahead:

Lesson 1: Technology adoption is inevitable. Instead of fearing technology, embracing it and harnessing its power is essential for business growth.

Lesson 2: Personalization is the key to success. Personalizing training and development is crucial to maximize effectiveness and impact. I’ve learned that AI can play a fundamental role in tailoring training to individual employee needs, leading to more positive outcomes.

Lesson 3: A culture of learning is a key differentiator. Finally, I’ve observed that companies that promote a culture of continuous learning stand out in a world driven by Generative AI. A culture that values and encourages the constant acquisition of skills is essential for adaptation and innovation.

Upskilling and reskilling are essential practices for companies in the era of Generative AI. You can embrace these practices effectively, ensuring a successful future in a technology-driven world. Flexibility, personalization, and the promotion of a culture of learning are the pillars of this transformation. The future is bright for those who prepare today!

Written by:

Carlos Fernandez @cafedelexito


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