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Curves and Priorities – What’s Ahead for Workforce Development?

Curves and Priorities – What’s Ahead for Workforce Development?

Our #WednesdayswithMDBInsight post this week features Trudy Parsons, EVP exploring workforce development considerations for the remainder of 2020 and beyond.

As we continue to invest in our efforts to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 spread, it becomes more and more evident that its impact is far reaching and not going to be a quick bounce back for businesses and their workforce. How do we best support local employers and the local labour force to adapt to the  new way of working, skills acquisition, remote work, and developing knowledge and practices to maintain efficiencies and work safely?

Chief Learning Officer recently noted this, saying “many organizations are transitioning workplace practices and strategic initiatives, pivoting to respond to external events. To optimize performance at the individual and team level and succeed in this time of transition, people at every level of the organization need the proper tools at their disposal. One of those critical tools is a coaching culture that gets people throughout the organization the answers/assistance/support they need, when they need it, to get desired results”.

It is vital that our workforce planning include attention to collaboration, knowledge transfer, and engagement to help ensure workers, including those working remotely, are effectively supported and connected to each other. This should include a focus on agility and resilience as well as job-specific skills that may need to be acquired as workplaces shift operations and protocols to reflect current realities. Of course, this is consistent with our pre-pandemic attention to upskilling and reskilling as key elements in workforce development efforts aimed to address gaps in talent supply and demand.

Along with emerging priorities relevant to our post-pandemic workforce, investments in professional development, team learning, and individual skills development remain vitally important to a resilient and responsive workforce. Where local talent gaps exist, workforce planning in 2020 and beyond will require strategic attention to the learning curve as well as the importance of investing in retention efforts to ensure workers stay connected and supported in their roles. It won’t be enough to simply fill vacancies – strategic workforce planning will require that employers are able to tap into a workforce that is ready and flexible.

Employers’ needs have shifted, resulting in learning and development joining productivity among the most highly ranked assets for new hires. Anticipating further shifts to come, recruitment efforts will seek to find employees whose ability to pivot and develop are best suited to corporate adaptability expectations. For local workforce development professionals, this highlights the need to scrutinize training opportunities, ongoing development offerings, and innovative engagement practices that can support local talent and employers alike. For employers, this emphasizes the importance of investing in employees. In a report released by HSBC, Navigator: Made for the Future, more than 52% of respondents indicated an increased investment in skills and training. For 64% of those, that investment will increase by at least 5%, and additionally, 43% indicated an increased investment in employee wellbeing. This is good news, and it will be interesting to monitor how the 2020 pandemic may impact this investment. It has perhaps never been more important for employers to recognize the necessity of this investment, as businesses strive to adapt, innovate, and thrive in the world emerging around us.

Employee wellbeing will need wellness strategies and employee programming that mitigates the prolonged stress that many will experience as we move forward. These are certainly important considerations for talent attraction and retention efforts as well as the overall resilience of our national workforce. Our workforce development sector is positioned to monitor and respond to these needs as virtual workplaces become more commonplace and the learning-related challenges of physical distancing are identified. Partnerships with post-secondary education, training providers, career practitioners, industry associations and other key stakeholders will no doubt be an important element in these efforts.

To learn more about Trudy and the other members of our team, go to 

TrudyOur Wednesdays with MDB Insight posts feature the thinkers and doers on our team sharing ideas and talking about what’s important to us as professionals. We have very diverse backgrounds and a range of interests to share with you. We hope you’re enjoying these posts and that you will join the conversation with us and let us know what’s on your mind mid-week.

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