Emerging technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI), are changing the nature of work and opening the door to greater employee productivity. Business functions like accounting and finance are feeling this wave of change acutely: technological advancements are evolving many positions rapidly, leading to a demand for new skills — and the need for employers to consider upskilling employees for the future of work. 
Upskilling is an opportunity to make the best use of the talented professionals in your organization by equipping them with the skills they need to handle more strategic and complicated work for the business. Compared to a process like reskilling (learning skills in preparation for moving into an entirely new role), upskilling is a longer-term tactic that involves continuous learning and supporting each staff member’s ongoing professional growth and career progression. Advanced technology tools are already helping to relieve many workers of the burden of routine and time-consuming tasks so there is no time to waste in developing an action plan for upskilling your team members. In a recent Robert Half Canada survey, 92 per cent of Canadian hiring managers find it challenging to find skilled talent. Of that group, 52 per cent noted finding talent with required skills as a top issue for why. This is good news for employees: there is motivation for employers to invest in upskilling teams. See below for some tips for how to upskill your employees, as well as some suggestions of methods you might employ to secure the future of work in Canada.
We’re beginning to see the implementation of transformative technologies into the workplace. So, it’s not too late for anyone to build new skill sets and gain an understanding of emerging tech. If anything, now is the best time to identify what exact skill gaps there are to fill them. Following are some examples of the technologies that professionals in departments from finance to marketing will soon be working with, if they aren’t already: Robotic process automation (RPA) tools AI software that adds a “human” element to tasks such as risk assessment or fraud detection Machine learning (ML) or self-editing software Natural language processing (NLP) programs that translate documents and speech into data Also, don’t forget about technologies that your team may already be working with that they could deepen their expertise in, like big data and advanced analytics. Many business functions already use analytical tools like predictive analytics or are likely to adopt them soon.
So, now that you recognize the urgency of preparing your team for the future of work, and the types of technologies they may need to understand (at least, at a high level), where do you start with upskilling them? The following approaches can be effective, as well as budget- and schedule-friendly: 1. Virtual training. Offer hands-on training via an online platform that workers can access remotely on their own time. 2. Microlearning. Upskilling team members doesn’t have to mean months-long courses and new certifications. It can be done gradually through microlearning. This could look like learning-as-you-go through a job or task. 3. Mentoring. Pair up employees in mentoring arrangements or offer job shadowing opportunities. Career development programs are a great benefit to offer for recruiting. It allows job seekers to envision a long-term career. 4. P2P learning. Peer-to-peer (P2P) learning is informal, and takes many forms, including employee-led workshops and team projects. 5. Providing financial aid. If you know your team members will eventually require certification or in-depth study of a new subject, consider offering tuition reimbursement or assistance. This is another perk that job seekers take into consideration when applying for roles.
Many employers see soft skills as the most valuable skills in the future of work in Canada. After all, machines can’t replicate everything — especially uniquely human qualities like the ability to show empathy. With the rise in technology and automation in the workplace, soft skills become that much more emphasized and important to companies. Future workplaces are likely to be highly collaborative, with many businesses continuing to expand their use of hybrid and remote teams. That means excellent communication skills will be even more important than they are today. So, when upskilling staff, make sure to connect them with professional development options that will help them build and master abilities such as written and verbal communication, emotional intelligence, and leadership. Upskilling your employees is just as important to your company’s long-term competitiveness as is investing in new technologies. Upskilling can also enhance staff retention, if you do it well. Don’t make your employees come to you first. Approach them and explain the digital transformation your organization is embarking on — or plans to pursue soon — and the role they can play in it. Proactively encouraging your team to consider professional development around new technologies shows you’re invested in their success and support their efforts to future-proof their careers. No one can predict the future of work in Canada but there are helpful tools out there that can help inform hiring decisions for employers and job seekers. One of them is the Robert Half Canada Salary Guide that includes market outlook trends to keep an eye out for. Need help with finding the right talent? Connect with a Robert Half Canada talent solutions professional today.